Review: The Good Son by Jacquelyn Mitchard

 

Title: The Good Son

Author: Jacquelyn Mitchard

Published: 19th January 2022, HQ Fiction

Status: Read January 2021 courtesy Harlequin Australia/Netgalley

+++++++

My Thoughts:

 

“I was picking my son up at the prison gates when I spotted the mother of the girl he had murdered.”

 

Nearly three years after being convicted for beating his girlfriend, Belinda McCormack, to death while high on a cocktail of drugs, 20 year old Stefan Christiansen is released from prison. Despite everything, his mother, university professor Thea, is determined to support Stefan and encourage him to rebuild his life. She knows it won’t be easy, though Stefan remembers nothing of the crime he confessed to he is tormented by remorse and self-loathing, and the family is subject to sustained harassment, not only from supporters of a campaign spearheaded by Belinda’s devastated mother, Jill, but also a hooded figure and an anonymous caller.

Unfolding from Thea’s perspective, Jacqueline Mitchard presents a provocative narrative that explores the themes of guilt, redemption and unconditional love in The Good Son.

Thea is an sympathetic character, contemplating myself and my ‘good son’ in such a situation is unnerving. I thought Thea’s inner conflict was well articulated as she struggled to reconcile her love for her son with the crime he committed. While I didn’t always agree with her actions, I felt her character behaved consistently. I liked that Mitchard explored the stigma Thea faced as the mother of a murderer, though I wondered if she went quite far enough.

In the main I felt Mitchard’s portrayal of Stefan’s character was believable, his mercurial attitude in the weeks after his release seemed genuine and appropriate to his age. His struggles to rejoin society were thoughtfully represented, raising issues I’d given little thought to. I found myself torn between sympathy for, and a kind of impatience with, Stefan, a dynamic which I think was skilfully exploited by the author to illustrate the maxim that each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.

While I think the premise of the story is powerful, the execution was quite uneven. The pacing was an issue for me, the middle third dragged, and it definitely affected the suspense related to the identity and motivations of the family’s stalker. I’m conflicted with regards to the ending too. I think the novel would have been stronger had Mitchard chosen another, less melodramatic and arguably more authentic, path.

Though not without its flaws, I did find The Good Son to be a thought-provoking read, and I do believe it would be a rewarding choice for a book club, as it explores issues sure to stimulate a lively discussion.

+++++++

Available from Harlequin Australia

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Emma
    Jan 28, 2022 @ 04:37:00

    I have been wanting to get a copy of this book based on the blurb. Yours is the first review I’ve read and now I am not so sure. One to ponder.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Anstice Brown
    Jan 28, 2022 @ 05:30:33

    This sounds really interesting and intense. It must be a very difficult thing to deal with as a parent. Can you ever stop loving your child, even if they do something terrible? It’s an interesting question to explore.

    Like

    Reply

  3. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out

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