Pub. Date: August 15, 2017
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, St. Martin’s Press!)
Summary: Marti Trailor—social worker on hold, mother of three, wife of a successful obstetrician, daughter of a Congressman—is ready to go back to work. She’s thrilled when the perfect opportunity falls in her lap. The catch? The job is at her husband’s hospital and he seems not to share her enthusiasm. Undeterred, she takes the position counseling vulnerable young women as they prepare to give birth.
Marti quickly begins to feel like she is making a difference in the lives of her clients. Soon, though, she finds herself caught up in the dark side of the medical center—with its long hours, overworked doctors and entrenched practices. When she witnesses something she can’t unsee, Marti, who has always done her best to keep a low-profile, finds herself thrust under a dangerous spotlight with all of Richmond, Virginia watching.
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense, Mystery
Life as a doctor’s wife is lonely, especially now that Elliot has started taking on more work, heavier rotations, a new role. It’s not unheard of for Marti to go days without seeing her husband and it’s definitely beginning to cause a rift in their marriage. So when she’s presented the opportunity to not only jump back into work, but take a position at the hospital where Elliot works, Marti hardly hesitates.
If being a doctor’s wife is an underappreciated role, it’s nothing compared to that of a social worker and Marti sees it all: newly-pregnant teens, women simply down on their luck and unable to provide for a baby, women angry at the world for burdening them with an infant, a severely mentally handicapped woman who winds up pregnant. A birth should be cause for celebration – unfortunately, one night there’s a horrific tragedy, dubbed a terrible mistake, and suddenly Marti is thrust into the spotlight.
Best Intentions jumps back and forth, telling the story leading up to what Marti witnessed and her current life under arrest and awaiting trial. While reading I couldn’t help but think of Rena Olsen’s The Girl Before – not for similiar content (The Girl Before deals with human trafficking), but because both books feature that past/present narrative I love so much; in this case, the present storyline in both novels feature the women being questioned about terrible crimes.
The crime in Best Intentions is murder, namely the death of a newborn after a terrible and unforgivable mistake instantly left her brain dead and in a vegetative state upon birth. There’s a lot of moral and ethical talk in this novel: would the baby be better off dead? She will never breathe on her own, there’s no brain activity whatsoever. The mother is practically a child herself. The subject matter definitely isn’t easy, but it’s extremely thought-provoking and I enjoyed it immensely.
There’s a LOT of drama within the book’s pages – infidelities, nasty frenemy-type relationships with other doctors’ wives, discussion of the medical field itself (the extremely long hours doctors are expected to work, doctors far too tired to function yet tasked with delicate surgeries and operations, behind-the-scenes talk of things I would have never thought about like fudging numbers to make it look like young doctors are only – ha – working 90 hours when they’re really putting in 100 or more a week), but the book never felt weighed down. In fact, it was such an intense ride I tore right through it!
When Marti’s trial arrives, the chapters read like scenes straight out of Law & Order and I loved it. There was a HUGE mic drop moment where I nearly shrieked it was that good. I’m sure this will change now that the book has been released, but looking through the reviews for Best Intentions on GoodReads, there are NO 1- or 2-star reviews and that is extremely impressive.
Best Intentions is a roller coaster of a novel and such a fun, wildly intense ride. I love it when books make me think and there were some seriously thought-provoking ethical dilemmas here. This was such an emotional, compelling read that I tore through in a single sitting and have no problem recommending! I’m VERY excited to see what Erika does next!