Despite the fact I don’t know the author, Elisabeth Hyde (even her 3 previous novels: Crazy as Chocolate, Monoosook Valley and Her Native Colors), I grabbed a copy from Tesco (cost 3.73 pounds) and immediately let myself discover the story of this catchy title and cover lay-out of the book.
The book tells us the story of the middle class family of Megan Thompson, the 19 year old daughter of Diana and Frank. As a typical teenager with personality, she is enjoying life to the fullest – college, boys, sex, drugs, popularity, etc. Her parents are well known professionals in the neighborhood: Diana as the Director for Reproductive Choice, a very successful surgeon and offering her services for women who want their few weeks-old babies aborted; and Frank who is workaholic and dedicated district attorney in his town with on-going investigation relating to illegal cyber sites. The family is not different to others – having domestic problems: raising kids, careers, money, etc. Megan is in the middle of the family crisis especially when her mother died – murdered inside their house. The sudden death brought implications to her father's work, her mother’s profession, her former boyfriend, Bill and significantly to herself. As the investigation progresses, the family becomes the ‘talk of the town’ and everyone speculates that Frank is the prime suspect! Aside from Frank, Detective Huck Berlin (with his partner, Ernie) who happens to be handling the case also identified possible suspects, including Reverend Steven O’Connell, one of the supporters of the Lifeblood Coalition – a group of people against Diana’s profession, and the ‘meth’ lab gang that supplies elicit drugs to Diana as Bill’s story. To some extent, the case also affected Huck’s personal life which brought to a sudden break-up with his girlfriend. Is it a happy family ending? Well, it is a typical family story of “Without a Trace” TV series in Channel 4.
The book covers real- to-life family problems as being faced by parents, especially the mothers. It tells us how the mother coped with her husband (saving the relationship after the death of her young son) and raising her beautiful daughter, without jeopardizing her career. Parents will always protect their children, no matter what the consequences are, as long as the family will be happy together. This brings back to my attention to Richard Templar book, The Rules of Life about ‘partnership and family rules’ such as: “Check you both have the same shared goals”, “Treat your partner better than your best friend”, “Never be too busy for loved one”, “There are no bad children”, and “Give your kids responsibilities”.
Well, Im just lucky that even though I came from a big family of 6 brothers and 3 sisters, my parents (especially my Mum as a ‘fulltime’ mother) was/were able to brought us as responsible individuals. I am still single so I don’t have hands-on experience in raising children, but I was able to help my parents in raising my younger siblings, until now even Im away from home.
Without any doubt, being a parent is one of the most difficult and challenging tasks to be accomplished. Some succeeded, but others failed! Again, that is the essence of living… move on and do not dwell on the past and failures… stand up and try again and ‘re-push the button’ for new beginning – a new life for being a better person!
On the other hand, technically, I was not impressed the way the story was written. I feel like that Im only reading a story adapted from a TV series like as I mentioned earlier, “Without a Trace”. There is “no suspense” at all, considering that this deals with a crime – a murder of a well known medical practitioner. It did not give a good impression to me despite the fact that story tackles some controversial issues in the world (abortion and drugs). I detected some loopholes or inconsistencies in the organization of the book itself such as using Part 1, Part 2, etc. with the month headings, and some initial chapters within that particular Part did not really occur on that indicated period. I feel that there are important events that need to be written; unfortunately the author did it “hanging” which the readers tend to guess or assume it.
My personal judgment over the book is that Im comparing this novel with the works of Mary Higgins Clark who happens to be the best female novelist (family drama/suspense/thriller/crime in America. Nevertheless, I give the full credit to Ms Hyde for raising these issues of drugs and porno cyber sites for parents to remind their young/teenage children to get away from it; and most importantly reminding us (especially the young adults) to be responsible human beings to face the consequences for being reckless of not using "contraceptives" for birth control or unexpected pregnancies!