A mother’s worst nightmare, a chance at redemption, and a deadly secret that haunts a family across the generations.
There’s only room for one mother in this family.
Claire Abram’s dreams become a nightmare when she passed on a genetic mutation that killed her little boy. Now she wants a second chance to be a mother, and finds it in Robert Nash, a maverick fertility doctor who works under the radar with Jillian Hendricks, a cunning young scientist bent on making her mark – and seducing her boss.
Claire, Robert and Jillian work together on the world’s first baby with three genetic parents–an unprecedented feat that could eliminate inherited disease. But when word of their illegal experiment leaks to the wrong person, Robert escapes into hiding with the now-pregnant Claire leaving Jillian to serve out a prison sentence that destroys her future.
Ten years later, a spunky girl named Abigail begins to understand that all is not right with the reclusive man and woman she knows as her parents. But the family’s problems are only just beginning. Jillian, hardened by a decade of jealousy and loss, has returned–and nothing will stop her from reuniting with the man and daughter who should have been hers.
Past, present and future converge in this mesmerising psychological thriller from the critically acclaimed author Kira Peikoff.
This compelling page-turner jumps straight in with the action and tension not missing a beat before the reader is drawn into the strange, mysterious and reclusive world of Claire, Michael and Abigail Burke. Today is their annual outing into the city to commemorate Claire’s late son Colton’s birthday. It’s the only time they venture into the city, and one of the few times Claire will leave the house, for fear of being recognised after a decade-old scandal saw Claire thrust into the spotlight. All she cares about is protecting her daughter, even though ten-year-old Abby has no idea about the true circumstances surrounding her birth, or that her parents are in hiding and in fear of discovery from not only the law, but a woman who is determined to have her revenge.
But they weren’t counting on a school project that would lead to Abby asking questions they aren’t prepared to answer, or her secretly looking for answers when she is sure her parents are lying to her about something. She has no idea that she’s the world’s first child of three parents, illegally created to avoid inheriting Claire’s mitochondrial DNA that carries the disease that killed her first child. What will happen if she learns the truth? And can her parents keep her safe from the third parent out for vengeance?
What a spectacular book! Full of tension it had me reading with bated breath in anticipation of what would happen next. I loved the use of dual timelines told in parallel and the choice to have the story narrated by Claire, Jillian and Abigail. Giving a voice to three very different characters increased the atmosphere and helped the reader bond to what each of them is going through and their motivations for actions that otherwise might have seemed to not make any sense.
Claire is a Mama Bear. She’ll do anything to protect her child. She’s been through the agony of losing a child after watching them suffer from illness and went to extraordinary lengths to protect her next child suffering the same fate. She then commits to a life in hiding so that her daughter doesn’t become a freak show and can live a normal life. As a mother I always understood her motivations, even if I didn’t agree with them.
Abby doesn’t know how she was created so all she sees is an agoraphobic, anxious, panicky, over-protective mum who won’t go to her games or let her have a smartphone. She can tell she’s being lied to but understandably wants to know what they’re hiding from her. I worried for Abby, for how she’d handle the truth, especially as it was possible she’d not find out in a calm way with her parents explaining things to her. She’s only ten so I didn’t blame Claire and Michael for not having told her yet, although I did think it might have been wise to do so when they learned of the school project.
Jillian was a great villain and was so much fun to read. She’s highly intelligent, ambitious, manipulative, delusional and certifiably insane. She is one of those people you’re very glad are a work of fiction and that you love to hate. Her obsession with Dr Nash and venom towards Claire were both scary and it was no wonder Claire was terrified of her tracking them down. I loved the scenes with Jillian in part three and four most of all as it’s when we see her at her most crazy.
While this is at its heart a story about family it is also a story about a controversial topic. While I can say that I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable with the idea of three parents, I do understand the desire to remove the chance of a child possibly inheriting a disease that causes immense suffering and death. As explored in the book this isn’t a simple issue, but as someone with a non-fatal illness that causes pain daily that is now thought to be hereditary, I don’t know if I’d have chosen to have a child if I had known. I would certainly have jumped at the chance to remove that risk if it had been available. Taking into account how Claire’s first child suffered before succumbing to his illness makes me completely understand everything she did, even if I am uncomfortable with the idea of three parents.
This fast-paced book was full of twists, some I predicted, others that took me by surprise. But all of them were revealed in a way that brought the storylines together perfectly as the tension built to a crescendo. And that conclusion! Wow! My jaw was on the floor and I couldn’t read fast enough. Mother Knows Best is a thought-provoking, compelling, sharp and electrifying thriller that I highly recommend.
Thank you to NetGalley, Crooked Lane Books and Kira Peikoff for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Publication Date: September 10th
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kira Peikoff is a graduate of New York University with a degree in journalism. She also holds a Master of Science degree in bioethics from Columbia University. Her articles have been published in a variety of major media outlets, including The New York Times.
Since 2017 she has been the Editor-in-Chief of leapsmag, a digital publication that cover innovation and ethics in the life sciences for a mainstream audience. Peikoff lives in New Jersey with her husband, son and the world’s cutest dog.