This book caught my interest because it’s a real-life kinda story that any parent – mother or father – could find themselves in. But while the story got off to a good start, it kinda lost me because the main character, Jennifer, was not very likable and the spoiled brat, Emma, was just so ungrateful and mean. I mean, her mother jumped on a plane and flew across the country to help her, and she acts cold and withdrawn? Wow.
I tried to like the character Jennifer but that just didn’t happen. I guess Jennifer running to swallow pills after receiving her daughter’s frantic call should have been my first clue that she was not a character worth my time. And, later, she acts all weak and needy even as she goes deeper into her daughter’s situation and realizes the full scope of what is going on. If she’s not drinking like there’s no tomorrow, she’s feeling sorry for herself and beating herself up over what has happened. There were MANY times I wanted to scream at her “This is not about YOU!” because she took everything so personally and even snapped at her daughter with cruel words when her daughter personally attacked her. She may apologize for it later, but a child will never, ever forget cruel words their parents have thrown at them and those words can’t be taken back. The fact that she did such a thing shows she was acting very immature and refused to try to see this situation from her daughter’s point of view. It also didn’t help that she was running around Spain spending money and dolling herself up to get mens’ attention or to flirt with a private investigator while the media is having a field day painting her daughter as a promiscuous spoiled American.
It also got tiring how Jennifer kept flashing back to when her daughter was younger and remembering certain things she did or things that happened. She kept comparing the “old Emma” to the “present Emma” and that was another mistake because she refused to see that her daughter was NOT the same person she thought she knew. Also, her daughter is 20 – an adult and not a child or a teenager. Given that Jennifer never really made her daughter take responsibility for her mistakes or owe up to things she did, it’s no surprise that her daughter grows up to be the person that she turns out to be. “Oh, Mommy will fix everything. I can lie all I want to. I can point fingers and throw blame around. Mommy thinks I am innocent and can do no wrong.” This was really irritating. I understand Jennifer wanting her daughter to have a perfect life and all of the privileges the rich people think they deserve, but if a parent does not allow their child to learn a lesson or mature, that child will grow up thinking he/she can get away with anything. Even murder.
And yet it seems that her daughter, Emma, has inherited her mother’s acting genes. She really does a good job playing the victim. And what’s interesting is how she acts like her mother by avoiding tough questions, glossing over mistakes and playing the drama queen card when cornered about what happened. Her tears were so fake, and it’s too bad her mother didn’t see through any of her act.
Her father, Mark, on the other hand, DID see how she was playing everyone. Oh, I liked the character Mark. He was definitely a great character! I was always encouraged when there was a scene with Mark because he’s so smart and sees the situation more objectively. Mark can clearly see through all the drama and BS. He knows when someone’s lying to him. I was certainly cheering him on when he tried to explain to his broken wife about what was really happening or how he snapped at Emma, “Don’t roll your eyes at me!” It was because of the character Mark that I continued to read this novel.
I also continued to read this book because I wanted to find out what happened. The ending was a little confusing, though. It’s like the author was not really sure on how to end her story and left the whole thing up to the reader’s interpretation. Despite the unlikable characters and the mediocre writing, The Perfect Mother by Nina Darton was an interesting story.
When an American exchange student is accused of murder, her mother will stop at nothing to save her.
A midnight phone call shatters Jennifer Lewis’s carefully orchestrated life. Her daughter, Emma, who’s studying abroad in Spain, has been arrested after the brutal murder of another student. Jennifer rushes to her side, certain the arrest is a terrible mistake and determined to do whatever is necessary to bring Emma home. But as she begins to investigate the crime, she starts to wonder whether she ever really knew her daughter. The police charge Emma, and the press leaps on the story, exaggerating every sordid detail. One by one, Emma’s defense team, her father, and finally even Jennifer begin to have doubts.
A novel of harrowing emotional suspense, The Perfect Mother probes the dark side of parenthood and the complicated bond between mothers and daughters.