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282 pages, Hardcover
First published August 15, 2017
I'm going to rename this book The Best Surprise of this Summer. Oh my God, why did it stay this long on my NetGalley shelf??? (Probably because I had too many to read, and still do... :p)
Marti Trailor has a great life. Wife of an obstetrician, mother of three, and newly back on the job market as a social worker. Marti is not only the kind of woman you look and think “She has it all”, she is funny, kind, and trying to do her best. You can feel it form her actions, her thoughts, it's written all over her. No, she is not perfect, and the appearances are not always to be believed, we all know that. But Marti does her best with what she has.
Now, why was I on her side from the first page? Why did I read this book in one sitting? Why was it impossible for me to tear myself away from the story? Because the author brilliantly uses the dual past/present narration in the voice of Marti, offering us two sides of the same woman. A before, and an after. Only you have no idea what was the event breaking her life in two parts, and what led her to where she is now.
There's something fabulously enticing in the writing, Erika Raskin talks to all women through her main character and plays with the idea the worst can happen to the best people, just because. Isn't this scary? Truth be told, Best Intentions is one of the most terrifying stories I have read. There is no blood, per se (now you're wondering), there is no serial killers, cockroaches, apocalypse. No. Just a woman trying to help. Helping turns out to be her downfall.
"Are all people who take medication for anxiety murderers?"
We all want to help, we give a hand when a friend needs it, we lend our lawnmower, we buy a sandwich for the homeless guy at the corner of the street. I like to think of the best in each human being. But what if by trying to save someone, you drive yourself to hell?
The past slowly unfolds, revealing hints and bits that add up to create a giant explosion, making me shake my head in disbelief, turning me into an angry woman so wishing to jump into the pages to help another woman in need. I devoured those parts by looking closely at each little piece of information, knowing something was about to happen but hoping it actually wouldn't! I can't explain why I cared so much for Marti. Maybe because I dare think there are people who care enough to go as far as she does to make things better for others. I admired Marti and when the world came crashing down, in hours, page after page, my heart break and I felt helpless and so tense I thought I was in a nightmare I was gonna wake up from!
The plot is so taut that there is no escape, especially when things are also personal. Because Marti's husband is, like all doctors, always busy, always putting more hours, always away. This part of domestic issues captivated me as I felt this was something I knew about but it was a totally different experience to live it along with Marti, who had always been in the shadow of her husband. Until now. The author made things so real I was absolutely immersed in this tailspin and trying to make sense of everything. The characterization is amazingly well-crafted so there's always a doubt, always a little niggle at the back of your mind, always a little something to say “It's not right.” And like all people wearing their heart on their sleeve and putting their everything into what they do, Marti can't take it. Except she has everything to lose.
After twelve years of marriage, what was said was a lot less important than how it was said.
The last part was definitely my favorite. I can't say why so you'll have to believe me when I say this is a must-read. Because on top of the past/present narration, the thick plot, the helpless innocent being accused, there's a final act that brings everything together in an explosive way. A denouement the former law student in me loved to see unfold, an ending that won't release the tension until the very last drops of hope has been drained from your body.
If you are looking for one of the best stories of the summer, look no further! Best Intentions reminds us we are not safe from seeing our lives turned upside down just because we want to do the right thing. Erika Ruskin puts her main character into a position we all could find ourselves in, nailing a merciless and intense plot that leaves you wondering what YOU would do!
This review is my thank you to St Martin's Press for providing me with a copy of this book via NetGalley.