Ruth Hartland is the director of a trauma unit and haunted by the fact that her beautiful, difficult, fragile son Tom, a boy who never "fit in," disappeared a year and a half earlier. When she meets a new patient, Dan—unstable and traumatized—who looks exactly like her missing son, Ruth's past and complicated feelings cloud her professional judgement.
... taut, intelligent psychological thriller that will reassure just about every anxious mom who reads it that it’s okay to mess up a little with your kids ... Thomas plots her twists and turns so ingeniously (with a slippery scattering of red herrings) that even veteran suspense readers will be floored. For all its narrative inventiveness, however, the greatest appeal of A Good Enough Mother is its sharp rendering of the “active listening” that goes on in Ruth’s therapy sessions and supervisory meetings with colleagues. These conversations typically unfold haltingly over several pages, and when psychological breakthroughs occur, they’re every bit as startling as the thriller revelations ... Thomas joins the ranks of first-rate masters of misdirection who delight in artfully distracting us readers from the terrible truths planted right before our eyes.
Clinical psychologist Thomas’ debut is a compelling, ingenious novel about grief, love, the healing process, and what it means to mother. Realistic characters and a dynamic family relationship will have readers mourning with Ruth along her journey. The whole book is absolutely engrossing, but with the final unexpected twist, Thomas brings it home with a boom.
...[a] taut debut thriller, peopled...with characters unusually alive in their psychological complexities ... Part psychological study and part psychological thriller ... Thomas’s prose is clear and spare, without unnecessary embellishment. The book does have flaws, though. Some characters are more vessel than human, there for Thomas to explore various psychoanalytic theories. Sometimes, too, the novel feels dangerously close to a therapy lesson—not what we’re here for. Certain parallels between Dan and Ruth’s stories are also forced. Still, it’s a gripping debut that makes you wish more clinical psychologists would become novelists.