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A Good Enough Mother

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The most dangerous lies are the ones we tell ourselves.

'Taut, absorbing and psychologically astute, in A Good Enough Mother Bev Thomas combines all the tension of a thriller with the emotional resonance of a powerful family drama.' (Paula Hawkins, bestselling author of The Girl on the Train)

Dr Ruth Hartland rises to difficult tasks. She is the director of a highly respected trauma therapy unit. She is confident, capable and excellent at her job. Today she is preoccupied by her son Tom's disappearance.

So when a new patient arrives at the unit - a young man who looks shockingly like Tom - she is floored.

As a therapist, Ruth knows exactly what she should do in the best interests of her client, but as a mother she makes a very different choice - a decision that will have profound consequences.

A gripping and deeply intelligent psychological thriller for fans of Apple Tree Yard and Lullaby


First published March 7, 2019

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About the author

Bev Thomas

6 books105 followers
Bev Thomas was a clinical psychologist in the NHS for many years. She currently works as an organizational consultant in mental health and other services. She lives in London with her family.

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5 stars
689 (17%)
4 stars
1,405 (35%)
3 stars
1,398 (34%)
2 stars
405 (10%)
1 star
105 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 600 reviews
October 30, 2020
5 stars!

Ruth is a successful psychotherapist who specializes in trauma patients. She is the director of a well known and highly respected therapy centre. This story provides an intimate look into her work life with her patients and staff as well as her personal life with the tragic loss of her son who is missing. Ruth is confident, hard working and determined at the office but holds much pain and suffering for her family life inside her heart. Lines begin to get blurred when she takes on a new patient who resembles her missing son.

I loved this book! It was such a unique, raw and honest storyline with endearing and vulnerable characters. I thought it was so very well written - it had me hanging on every word. The pace and flow were perfect - I was invested and curious right to the very end.

Ruth was an extremely intriguing character. The book explores motherhood so deeply. There were several sentences and paragraphs that held such power that I found myself pausing to appreciate what I just read. There are several heavy topics covered within these pages — childhood trauma, suicide, depression, loss of a child, self harm, ending of a marriage — a lot to think about and contemplate.

This book was a pleasant surprise that I highly recommend! Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my review copy!
Profile Image for Matt.
3,731 reviews12.8k followers
March 27, 2019
First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Bev Thomas, and Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

The title and premise of this novel caught my eye from the outset, as Bev Thomas pulls on the heartstrings of the reader while offering up a mysterious tale of love and loss. Ruth Hartland is a psychotherapist at a highly specialised facility in London, handling severe cases of trauma. Her professional life is full of accolades, both those that adorn the walls and the high regard in which she is held by those around her. However, there is something deeper and darker that she shares with no one; the disappearance of her son, Tom. Ruth has waited two years for something, but there is no news, not even a notice that he may be dead or hiding away from her. Ruth’s marriage is being held together by a thread and her daughter has made herself scarce. Could the bubbly exterior soon falter as Ruth’s inner self is riddled with trauma of its own? When Ruth agrees to take on a new patient, she is soon left with a sobering realisation that Dan is so very much like her disappeared Tom. Can Ruth keep her professional boundaries high enough to be able to help him without sucking Dan into her own drama, replacing the missing Tom with his new-found presence? Much will be revealed in this piece that pushes the limits of a mother’s love with a need to come to terms with loss in a therapeutic manner. Likely of interest to those who like a deeper and more emotional mystery, though I struggled throughout to make sense of much.

One should never judge a book by its cover. While this is used primarily about criticising a book deserving of one’s time, I seek to offer up that not all books that seem to be ‘unputdownable’ are just that. I struggled from the outset with Bev Thomas’ novel and never felt that I truly found my way. Meandering throughout, I picked up only the barest of literary crumbs in order to formulate some semblance of order with this book. Ruth Hartland proved to be the struggling protagonist who wants nothing more than to appear placid while she tears apart her insides, seeking something to right her way. Be it the loss of her son, alienation of her other family, or that she cannot practice what she preaches, Ruth is the epitome of hypocrite and it shows from the reader’s omnipotent perspective as they read. Others who grace the pages of the book prove to be interesting secondary characters, pushing the narrative to its limits while offering the story some flavour, though I still found it somewhat difficult to navigate. Perhaps it was the style of writing or that I could not connect to the characters from early on, but I struggled repeatedly to find my groove in this book. Thomas has no issue stringing together ideas and placing them in a seemingly cohesive manner, but I found myself floundering to make sense of the story, the nuances found within the narrative, and could not affix myself to any of the characters. I struggled to care throughout, making this read all the more tiresome. While I see others found nothing but praise for the piece, I suppose I could have missed out on what many others found. Alternatively, Thomas may just have failed to hook me in my efforts to ride a wave of sensational books. Either way, it’s a toss up for the curious reader.

Kudos, Madam Thomas, for seemingly winning many others over with this piece. I suppose there have to be those outside the trend to balance things.

Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...
Profile Image for Erin.
2,961 reviews485 followers
April 27, 2019
Thanks to Netgalley for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review

Well, this was not exactly what I was expecting. Domestic drama more than suspense, I felt the novel's plot moved very slowly. Realistic in the sense that the novel explores the cracks in the health system; the central storyline of the protagonist's(Dr. Ruth Hartland)missing son, Tom never really hooked me.

Many of the chapters give the backstory of Ruth's life with her much loved son. As the story is told completely from Ruth's perspective, it happens very quickly that Ruth is in denial and a bit resentful of how others see her relationship as being that of a hoverer.I came away feeling more than just a little sorry for Tom's twin sister, Carolyn and his father, David.

As I previously mentioned, most of the story is centered on Ruth's work as a traumatic care counselor. She makes many mistakes along the way and two particular patients cause Ruth to act very unprofessional. I just couldn't help cringing! Also the last 20% of the novel was a bit of a letdown.

Others appear to have enjoyed The Good Mother , but it failed to captivate me.

Goodreads Review published 25/04/19
Profile Image for Janel.
511 reviews90 followers
July 30, 2021
Sometimes novels are categorised as psychological thrillers but the psychological element is weak; that is not the case with A Good Enough Mother! The psychological pull of this novel was so intense, I flew through it in no time at all. Not only did it thrill my mind, but the psychology on display within the novel was gripping. Seeing elements of Ruth’s work with clients in the trauma unit, but also seeing how her son’s disappearance affected her work with her clients was expertly done. When I finished this novel, my first thought was the author must be in the field of psychology, to have written so intelligently, so realistically, on the subject. And it was so, Thomas was a clinical psychologist for many years, and now works as an organisational consultant in mental health. You could go so far as to say this book is written by an expert, it certainly read expertly.

Ruth Hartland was a very well-developed and complex character, one who was laid bare to us in this novel. Thomas took this novel to dark places, but kept it realistic, this novel really does read as Ruth’s story. But, it also does a fantastic job of exploring human emotions and the need for containment. In its most simplistic form: containment is a patient projecting their unmanageable feelings onto a therapist, who in turn reflects them back to the patient but in a way which these feelings become more manageable and tolerable for the patient. And if you’re familiar with Bion’s work about the good enough mother, then you’ll know why this was novel was perfectly titled.

When a novel draws out the mental health nurse in me, it gets bonus points – A Good Enough Mother gets all the stars. Please don’t think you have to have trauma/mental health experience to enjoy this novel, because that’s not the case at all; I just wanted to highlight the intelligence of this novel.

A psychological drama which expertly explored the relationship between a therapist and her patients, and how vulnerable both can be in this relationship. The tension, the thrills, the uncertainty, the emotion, the power of loss, perfectly paced, this novel had it all! But most of all, this novel was human, no tricks or gimmicks, instead a well-written, literary piece of fiction that will keep your mind engaged from beginning to end.

*My thanks to the publisher (Faber & Faber) for providing me with a copy of this title*
Profile Image for Ova - Excuse My Reading.
474 reviews362 followers
April 8, 2019
This is a fine book- I especially loved the way the patient and therapist sections were explored. Immense research and thought seems to have poured in. The story is OK. However there were somethings that I really couldn't help to get irritated. Don't want to write spoilers, but ..

It's a good book, and I like it, but I didn't love it. 3-3.5 stars

Thanks to Faber& Faber for a copy of the book
Profile Image for Gemma.
822 reviews64 followers
March 30, 2019
I struggled to finish this.
I found there was alot of time hopping and didn't really feel it got going till past the 70% mark.
The ending felt obvious from alot earlier in the book.
Unfortunately I didn't find the characters particularly likeable or relatable either.
Overall rather disappointing.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for 8stitches 9lives.
2,793 reviews1,627 followers
April 4, 2019
A Good Enough Mother is described by one retailer as a psychological thriller and another as general fiction, but I think the most accurate genre for it to be placed in is that of domestic drama. It broaches many prevalent issues and due to that would make a fitting book club read fuelling many debates about mental health, motherhood, emotional attachment/bonds, trauma, grief, love, loss and heartbreak. What really set this book apart, though, was the sensitivity and realism with which these issues were explored and that makes perfect sense given the author is a clinical psychologist with twenty-five years’ experience of working with patients in the NHS.

At its heart, this is an exploration of the complex dynamic between a patient and a therapist, and an examination of the responsibilities and limitations of motherhood. This is a powerful, thought-provoking and emotionally resonant family drama with dark and unsettling connotations and a unique, engaging cast of characters. The writing is exceptional creating a rich reading experience and the fact it is written with such profound intelligence and deftness of touch makes it a gripping and accomplished debut novel. I hope to read more from Ms Thomas in the future.

Many thanks to Faber & Faber for an ARC.
Profile Image for Aga Durka.
199 reviews60 followers
April 23, 2019
A heart-wrenching, psychological family drama with a twist.
Mother’s worst nightmare, a missing child, is what Ruth Hartland faces while still performing her very difficult job of being a therapist. While Ruth thinks she has a good grip on separating her personal family drama from her professional life, we soon find out that this is not the case. Things quickly spiral out of control when a new patient shows up, and his uncanny resemblance to Ruth’s missing son awakens emotions that soon drive Ruth to making some very poor choices in her life.

Bev Thomas does an excellent job at describing emotions and she introduces a lot of though-provoking situations in her book. Thanks to the author’s skills of writing such a powerful novel, I was able to develop strong connection with Ruth, and I felt her despair and anguish on a very personal level. Yes, I was angry with Ruth at times for making some very poor choices, but in the end, if in her shoes, would I have acted differently? Mother’s love for her child is unconditional and so extremely soul engulfing, that it becomes blinding at times which can drives a person to some extreme actions and choices.

The reader gets a very unique insight into the complex therapist-patient dynamics and the author does a wonderful job of introducing the reader into mental health issues that some people suffer from. The reader gets a front row experience of how mental health issues can affect not only a patient but also people surrounding him/her. The consequences when the patient is not treated adequately or given enough time and thought to, can be paralyzing and life alerting for many. Also, this book further validates the fact that mental health issues are real struggles for many and are as significant in treatment and importance as any other disease.

Thank you Edelweiss, Pamela Dorman Books, and the author, Bev Thomas, for giving me an opportunity to read this thought-provoking book in exchange for my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Patricija || book.duo.
535 reviews364 followers
September 18, 2020

Kad ir kas nutiktų, motina neturi išsirinkti favorito. Ar ne tokios žaidimo taisyklės, ne tokia mantra? Galime rinktis favoritus visur ir visada, tačiau tėvų numylėtiniai – griežčiausias tabu. Nes mylėti reikia vienodai. Džiaugtis pasiekimais vienodai. Linkėti geriausio vienodai. Stengtis. Stumtelėti į priekį, kai reikia. Vienodai. Bet kas, jei vaikai vienodi tik iš pirmo žvilgsnio? Vienodo amžiaus, 9 mėnesius praleidę kartu, pasmerkti kartu leisti ir visą vaikystę. Koja kojon. Lyginami net tuomet, kai panašūs tik išvaizda. Lyginami visų – net tų, kurie artimiausi. Kaip elgtis motinai, kuri žino, kad jie abu iš tavęs, abu tavo, tačiau vienas tavo truputį labiau? Gal todėl, kad pagimdžius pirmąjį, antras norėjo tavyje pasilikti kiek ilgiau? Lyg norėdamas pabūti vienas. Nors kartą. O gal tiesiog norėdamas dar pabūti su tavimi? Jis tavęs įsikibęs truputį stipriau. Jam tavęs reikia labiau. Jį norisi palaikyti ilgiau. Ne tik glėbyje. Palaikyti jo ranką, vedant į mokyklą. Palaikyti priešais tuos, kuriuos norėtum, kad vadintų draugais. Ir tuos, kuriuos vadina priešais. Palaikyti hobius. Pasirinkimus. Ką daryti, jei gali rinktis – arba vienam vaikų būti puikia motina, arba abiems būti tik pakankamai gera?

Nors viršelis skelbia, kad tai – trileris, visa jo linija, užuominos į paslaptis, supančias pagrindinės veikėjos psichoterapeutės klientus, man pasirodė kaip silpniausia ir nereikalingiausia siužeto dalis. Nes dievaži, visa kita mane papirko. Autorė, pati ilgai dirbusi psichoterapeutės darbą, šį tobulai perteikia žodžiais. Niekas neatrodo ištraukta iš Google ir filmų apie psichiatrines, čia nėra pritemptų psichoterapinių klišių, štampuojamų kiekvieno, kuris psichoterapeuto darbą jaučiasi perpratęs per pirmojo Google paieškos puslapio tyrimą. Pagrindinės veikėjos ir jos sūnaus Tomo, paslaptingomis aplinkybėmis dingusio ir nesurasto santykis, man vietomis netgi priminė „Mums reikia pasikalbėti apie Keviną“ – gylio, skausmo ir sluoksnių toli gražu ne tiek, bet ir užmojai kitokie. Vis dėlto, B.Thomas tobulai perteikia motinos beviltiškumą – bandant būti pakankamai gera žmogumi, pakankamai gera žmona, mama, terapeute. Kiekviena jos diena suskirstyta penkiasdešimties minučių skausmo, svetimos kančios ir sielvarto dalimis, kuomet ji kitų problemas sprendžia tam, kad galėtų pamiršti savąsias. Tarpuose Ruta lygina ir lyginasi: save su kitomis mamomis, žmonomis, kitais terapeutais. Savo klientus – tarpusavyje. Savo vaikus – vieną su kitu. O lyginimosi varžybų beveik niekada negalima laimėti. Tik ne tada, kai esi tik pakankamai geras.

Jei knyga nebūtų bandoma įsprausti į šiuolaikinio trilerio populiarumo formulę, ji būtų buvusi dar puikesnė, nei yra dabar. Be užuominų į pacientų paslaptis, be visiškai nereikalingų bėdų iš šalies, nepaliekančių pakankamai vietos autorei įsigilinti į tas, į kurias sugeba nerti kur kas giliau ir skausmingiau, nei įprasti trilerių autoriai, pervesdama skaitytoją, o tuo pat metu ir Rutą per visus 5 gedulo etapus – neigimą, pyktį, derybas, liūdesį ir susitaikymą. Trilerio siužetinė linija, rodos, net sumenkina autorės įdirbį ir talentą, palikdama knygą murkdytis tuose pačiuose vandenyse, kuriuose plaukioja panašaus plauko istorijos, kurtos kur kas menkesnio talento autorių. Vis dėlto, galvodama apie tai, jog tai – tik Bev Thomas debiutas, jau nekantrauju paskaityti daugiau. Ypač nujausdama, kad šis trilerių tvenkinys autorės talentui yra gerokai per mažas.
Profile Image for Brooke — brooklynnnnereads.
1,005 reviews247 followers
November 3, 2019
3.5 stars

Before I get into this review, I have to mention some trigger warnings involved with this novel. Although I find typically that thrillers often have graphic content, I feel like its still appropriate that I include warnings in my reviews. With that being said some of the content contained in this novel requiring warning are mentions/scenes of: rape, abuse (physical and emotional), suicide attempts, depression, anxiety, and death.

Now, onto the review.

This psychological thriller was a fast-paced read that gripped me from start to finish, holding my attention until I finished it within one day.

The story was suspenseful, thrilling, and included multiple parallel stories going on at the same time (such as the story of Dan and the story of Tom). Along with that, case studies were mentioned from Ruth's job that was also material that required thought and was difficult to wrap my head around (in a good way).

Compared to the rest of the story though, I do have to mention that I thought the ending was kind of lacklustre. One of the storylines ended interestingly but I felt the other storyline was boring considering it was the movement that kept the majority of the story going.

Overall though, I think it was a psychological thriller worth reading (especially in the atmospheric Autumn/Winter months). It's obvious that the author has had a career in mental health and that knowledge brought more to the novel making the novel seem more realistic.

***Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review***
Profile Image for Julie (JuJu).
618 reviews193 followers
May 14, 2019
My thoughts:
This debut psychological family drama is about guilt and grief and how both affect individuals and their relationships.

Ruth is a therapist in a trauma unit. She’s chosen not to share her complex and complicated family secrets with her coworkers. So she keeps her obsession with learning the truth private.

From the moment Ruth took on Dan as a patient, I knew there would be a devastating outcome. What I didn’t know was all the shocks and twists that would happen along the way.

Ruth is a character that I found interesting and intelligent, likable and relatable...but at the same time she was foolish, hypocritical, had no boundaries, poor judgement and made poor decisions! Not the qualities you want in a therapist. But she’s been successful for 25 years.

When she starts counseling Dan, she can’t seem to follow the rules even though she knows she’s crossing professional boundaries. She pays the ultimate price when her world is turned upside down. I found the entire story captivating until the ending. There were a few too many unanswered questions and a couple of things that bordered on unbelievable (for me, anyway). If the ending had been wrapped up better, I definitely would have rated this higher!

That being said, I did stay up until 3 am to finish it! 😛 It was well-written and gripping—especially for a debut—and I would read another book by this author!

My Rating: 3.5...rounding down to to 3 ⭐️’s
Published: April 30th 2019 by Pamela Dorman Books
Pages: 384

Recommend: Yes. I might be a little too critical of the ending.

Thank you to Edelweiss / Pamela Dorman Books and Bev Thomas for this digital ARC in exchange for my honest review!

”If it was anyone else, any other member of my team, I’d tell them they shouldn’t be at work.”

Book Blurb:
A riveting page-turner that lets us inside the secret world of therapist and patient, where boundaries get crossed, and events spiral out of control. . .

Ruth Hartland is a psychotherapist with years of experience. But professional skill is no guard against private grief. The mother of grown twins, she is haunted by the fact that her beautiful, difficult, fragile son Tom, a boy who never "fit in," disappeared a year and a half earlier. She cannot give up hope of finding him, but feels she is living a kind of half-life, waiting for him to return.

Enter a new patient, Dan--unstable and traumatized--who looks exactly like her missing son. She is determined to help him, but soon, her own complicated feelings, about how she has failed her own boy, cloud her professional judgement. And before long, the unthinkable becomes a shattering reality....

An utterly compelling drama with a timebomb at its core, A Good Enough Mother is a brilliant, beautiful story of mothering, and how to let go of the ones we love when we must.
Profile Image for Natasha Niezgoda.
567 reviews222 followers
May 2, 2019
Prepare for an emotional rollercoaster! 3.75 stars ⭐️for this one!

Synopsis: Ruth is a psychotherapist 👩🏼‍⚕️and Dan is a new patient of hers. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but Dan bears a striking familiarity to Ruth’s adult son, Tom, who has gone missing. Still struggling with that grief, she begins to feel an emotional tie to Dan and this causes Ruth’s judgment to fail her. As the story progresses, Ruth crosses professional boundaries she’s advised others to never cross and her relationship with Dan spirals into an unhealthy place! 🙅🏼‍♀️

This is my first Bev Thomas read and holy crap it was an emotional rollercoaster! 🤯 I would definitely classify this as a psychological family drama (not a thriller as it appears on here).

The story heavily focused on Ruth, which on one hand led to an extremely rounded character, but also left me begging for some brevity from other characters. Also, I think some characters that were neglected (Hayley) and whose presence became fluff after a while.

I will say Thomas introduces some great topics like hypocrisy, grief, denial, resentment, and alienation in an organic way. As you continue through the story, you see how Ruth encounters each of these phases and struggles to overcome them. The hypocrisy freaked me out a bit because she is a therapist and what occurred was grossly inappropriate (kinda like The Silent Patient).

I would recommend this to someone familiar with family drama plotlines. You need to be in it for the ride to get the most out of it.

A huge thank you to Viking Books for my advanced copy!
Profile Image for Dale Harcombe.
Author 14 books298 followers
September 16, 2019
As the director of a trauma therapy unit, Dr Ruth Hartland is used to seeing patients with their share of issues. But Ruth has her own issues which centre around her son Tom’s disappearance. After two years, Ruth still has no idea if Tom is still alive or what has happened to him. When a new patient, Dan Griffin, who looks a lot like Tom, arrives at the trauma therapy unit it is unsettling to say the least. Ruth knows she should be objective and pass this patient over to someone else. But she chooses not to. That decision and others she makes lead to events that she could not have foreseen.
While the premise of this novel sounded interesting I struggled from the outset with Ruth. Partly it was the way she treated her daughter Carolyn, Tom’s twin. Partly because of her attitude and the sequence of bizarre decisions she makes. I found her an unsympathetic character who thought she knew so much about how to deal with issues in other people’s lives but couldn’t see the blinding obvious in her own family. But then I suppose in that respect she is not a lot different to many of us?
Despite that lack of sympathy I was engaged enough to keep reading, although I would not call this a page turner of suspense. A lot of time is spent filling in events from the past and that tends to slow the pace down. While I didn’t find it gripping, it was readable, though it ever compelled me to keep reading and was easy enough to put down. Largely these could be because of the reasons given above. So an interesting enough read but not stunning. Still, I am sure there will be others who will really enjoy it. So maybe give it a go and see what you think.
Profile Image for Olga Kowalska (WielkiBuk).
1,412 reviews2,307 followers
October 9, 2019
Bev Thomas jest psychologiem klinicznym i ma 25 lat praktyki w leczeniu najcięższej traumy, tak jak bohaterka jej dreszczowca psychologicznego – „Terapeutka”.

Obojętność. Obojętność rodzica względem swojego dziecka i konsekwencje tej obojętności. Wyparcie. Wyparcie czegoś, co nam wydaje się oczywiste, a dla kogoś stanowi granicę nie do przekroczenia. Coś o czym lepiej nie myśleć za wiele, nawet udawać, że nie miało miejsca. Oto główne motywy, które przewijają się w „Terapeutce”, a które zdają się być kluczem do zrozumienia całości. Trudno nie współczuć głównej bohaterce, ale im głębiej zanurzamy się w jej historię, im więcej wiemy o niej i jej rodzinie, tym intensywniej dostrzegamy wszystkie zaniedbania, wszystkie braki, wszystko to, kim ona sama nigdy nie chciała się stać.

Aż strach pomyśleć kogo nasza autorka musiała spotkać na swojej drodze, że obmyśliła tak bezlitosną i tak smutną opowieść. Z jakimi przypadkami musiała zmierzyć się jako psycholog i ilu podobnych pacjentów przewinęło się przez jej gabinet. Aż ciarki przechodzą na samą myśl! „Terapeutka” to thriller, w którym przekraczamy kolejne granice rozpaczy i tęsknoty, przenikamy myśli bohaterki aż sami zaczynamy myśleć jak ona, tracimy grunt pod nogami, a wtedy… nadchodzi wreszcie finał, który podcina nogi. Po prostu bierze z zaskoczenia, bo sami jako czytelnicy wypieraliśmy to, co nadchodziło jako nieuniknione.

„Terapeutka” to porządnie napisany, spójny i zwarty dreszczowiec psychologiczny – mocna powieść gatunkowa, która nie zawiedzie miłośników takich historii.
Profile Image for Nikola.
124 reviews
April 2, 2019
You can also find this review on my book blog.

A Good Enough Mother is Faber’s lead debut which comes out on 4th April. When I got the blog tour invite I jumped right in because after reading that synopsis I couldn’t resist! It ticks all the boxes when it comes to a book for me.

What’s it about? A Good Enough Mother follows Dr. Ruth Hartland who is a director in a well-known trauma unit. Ruth’s job consists of seeing different patients and helping them through their traumas and she’s quite a good therapist. Our main character Ruth has a few issues of her own – her son Tom disappeared without a word and that is something that haunts her daily [understandably so]. On one particular day Ruth is assigned a new case, a boy called Dan Griffin who resembles her son a lot. This is where the line between professional and personal intertwine. Ruth, who has years of experience in her practice knows what is to be done in these scenarios but something in her is stopping her from doing the right thing. She cannot get the likeness out of her head and so she begins treating him. Was that the right choice or the greatest mistake? Well, you have to read the book to find out..

Whenever I come across a book where our main character is a therapist or someone in the field of mental health I immediately add it to my TBR because I can’t resist those books. I love finding out about human psyche and what influences most of our behaviour. The author of this book, Bev Thomas, was a clinical psychologist who worked for the NHS and who’s now a consultant when it comes to mental health. I love how her knowledge as well as many years of practice influenced the book and she even mentioned Winnicotts theory of ‘Good Enough Parent/Mother’ which I wasn’t familiar with before. The characters in the book were well crafted and Ruth’s character had a lot of flaws which made her relatable. Now, when it comes to Ruth’s decisions I wanted to yell at her a few times but I have to take into account that she has went through hell with Tom’s disappearance and that’s something very very stressful and can cloud someone’s judgement. I did find issues with a few of her decisions that I couldn’t credit to her trauma and I seriously wanted to shout ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOOOING!!? NOO!’. The book is very readable and it has a nice pace so you can actually fly through it and experience a lot of emotions. Did I feel for Dan? No, I didn’t. I just didn’t like him as a character although I understood Ruth’s ‘pull’ towards him. This book doesn’t jump straight into the action so if you’re someone who wants a fast-paced read you won’t find it here [although the end is wild]. It’s a slow burner which I enjoyed and I especially loved finding out about Ruth’s job and what she did. Although I didn’t like Ruth’s decisions I enjoyed this book a lot and the last few pages were quite hopeful which was a bonus for me.

A Good Enough Mother is an interesting look into a life of a therapist who while battlng her own demons tries her best to help her patients and a good study of what happens when personal and professional lives mix.

I would like to thank the publisher Faber & Faber for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions written here are my own and weren’t influenced by the fact that I got this book from the publisher.
Profile Image for Joanne Robertson.
1,358 reviews553 followers
April 9, 2019
I had a sample of this book and as soon as I reached the end I knew that it was just my sort of read. I needed to discover more about Dr Ruth Hartland and why she felt such a strong connection to her newest patient. I was expecting a run of the mill psychological thriller but what I got was so much deeper-a very thought provoking character exploration of a mother coping with some difficult dilemmas. Sometimes I actually had to put the book down because as a mother it disturbed me just how raw and honest it was in its unraveling of a woman caught between motherhood and her professional role as the blurring of the edges between them caused the inevitable to occur.

It actually shocked me just how much of a connection I felt to Ruth. Her actions weren’t necessarily ones that I approved of but I have learnt that you can’t judge another mother until you have walked in her shoes and even then the heel height may vary greatly! Her joy at the birth of her twins almost immediately became a dilemma for her due to the difficulty in giving birth to her second twin. I actually felt completely breathless as the author described those minutes between the easy arrival of her daughter Caroline and her son Tom. Her insightful narrative made the hairs on my arms tingle with its authenticity and took me by surprise, making me look at my own birthing experience with different eyes. And that candour continued with her desperate attempts to make sure that her son had the same childhood experiences as his sister. There’s no handbook for being a parent and everything we do is supposedly to give our children the best start in life and become the best adult they can be but having twins DOES differ because you are trying to deal with two personalities who have different needs. Is it right to put the needs of one child before the other? My mum always says to me “the squeaky wheel always gets the oil” and I could see that happening during the twins childhood and just hoped that in adulthood the balance would be redressed with no lasting damage. But as we all know (even without a degree in psychology!) that is rarely the case.

Ruth was a mother grieving for her missing son and although she thinks she does, she was unable to separate those feelings from the professional ones towards her patients. The scenes that took place at her trauma clinic were very uncomfortable at times as we are introduced to both staff and patients, witnessing interactions that sometimes felt far too personal in their veracity as they were played out for us “flies on the wall”.

A Good Enough Mother is a beautifully crafted book with a compelling and emotionally consuming narrative. I loved its unusual candour in its study of motherhood, grief and mental health issues especially those involving attachment disorders which are unfortunately very familiar in our young people nowadays. It’s a stunning book that far outweighed the one that I was expecting with its depth and integrity and it left me pondering its themes and characters long after I had finished reading it.

Highly recommended by me!
Profile Image for Lisa.
295 reviews141 followers
May 2, 2019
3.5 stars

A Good Enough Mother was at times suspenseful, hair raising, grief-filled and hopeful. I enjoyed learning about the patient/therapist relationships and thinking about the parenting approaches some of the characters in the story thought were “good enough”. I enjoyed this book but the one thing that bothered me was I felt like I was kept at an arms length from the main character, Ruth. I felt like I truly didn’t get to know her and she felt distant to me. Hard to explain but I wish I could’ve felt closer to her and the trials she had to endure.
Thanks to Goodreads and Pamela Dorman Books/Viking for the giveaway and sending me the book to review!
Profile Image for H.A. Leuschel.
Author 5 books252 followers
June 12, 2019
What a fantastic page-turner where the main protagonist had me completely spellbound and the underlying theme about the complexities of motherhood and the intricacies of psychotherapy reeling with emotion.
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,430 reviews997 followers
March 12, 2019
A really excellent psychological drama about a mother who's son is missing so allows her own grief to intrude on her work as a trauma counsellor- with devastating consequences.

Full review for the tour.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
3,612 reviews2,580 followers
December 26, 2019
Reminded me a fair bit of The Woman in the Window in that both protagonists are psychotherapists dealing with trauma from their past. Here Dr Ruth Hartland is still hoping to hear word of her son, Tom, who attempted suicide as a teenager and has now been missing for over a year. When a new patient who looks a lot like Tom starts coming for appointments, she ignores her gut feeling that she should pass him on to another practitioner. This is only the start of her poor professional choices, which lead to a totally unexpected tragedy. Thomas has a background in clinical psychology, so the details about theories (like Winnicott’s ‘good enough mother’) are convincing. This was a really quick and gripping read. I rarely pick up a psychological thriller, but it was worthwhile.
Profile Image for Anne.
2,097 reviews1,035 followers
April 4, 2019
A Good Enough Mother is a relatively short novel at just over 300 pages and I absolutely devoured it. It's a gripping, compelling and breath taking look at the therapist/patient relationship, and also a study in motherhood. Just what is a 'good enough Mother'?
Is it good enough to ensure that your child is fed and clothed, or must a mother protect and defend their child? Is 'good enough' actually enough?

Ruth Hartland is the Director of a London trauma clinic. She's very experienced and highly respected. She works with people who have experienced the most terrible tragedies, who are paralysed by their trauma. She works with them to overcome their issues; she's gentle and compassionate.

However, Ruth's own family is in turmoil. She's the mother of twins; Tom and Carolyn. Tom has been missing for over two years; vanished with no warning. He's taken no passport or credit cards, his bank account remains untouched and his disappearance has shattered their small family group. Ruth has not shared any of this with her colleagues. She's continued to work; to see clients and to run the clinic, and not one of her fellow workers have the faintest idea of what she's dealing with.

When Dan Griffin attends the clinic for his first appointment, Ruth is shocked. Dan is so like Tom; from his appearance to his mannerisms and despite her professionalism and her years of experience, she crosses boundaries with Dan that can only end in tragedy.

A Good Enough Mother drained me. There were times when I had to put it down, walk away and do something else, just so that I could absorb what I'd read, and deal with how it made me feel. Bev Thomas certainly draws on her own experiences as a clinical psychologist in her writing. Her descriptions of anguish and despair are immaculately composed, and at times are so raw that it's like a knife to the heart.

The reader is not just witness to the unfolding drama of Ruth and Dan's relationship, we are also told about other patients at the clinic and whilst these are only fleeting characters, each one of them are so totally relevant to the plot.
This is also a brutally honest look into Ruth's own family relationships, as the author takes the reader back to when Tom and Carolyn were young. We feel Carolyn's emotions as she sees her brother take up most of their mother's energy, we feel Ruth's husband's anger and frustration as he and Ruth disagree on how to deal with Tom's many issues. We see the family gradually break down, slowly and desperately.

A Good Enough Mother is a remarkable novel, and I expect it to be in my top books of the year. It is intelligent, ambitious and incredibly disturbing. It is also brilliantly written, completely human and so intense.

Utterly riveting and very very highly recommended from me.
Profile Image for Tamara.
388 reviews12 followers
May 8, 2019
When I think of the definition of boring, I will think of A Good Enough Mother. Perhaps it is not my type of book. Usually l like books that have a story. This one seems to be overly detailed without much to the story.
April 28, 2019
Emotionally resonant domestic drama with a psychotherapist losing her professional objectivity.

Fascinating, thought-provoking and often harrowing reading, Bev Thomas’s debut is a domestic drama with a difference in that not only is protagonist, Ruth Harland, a respected psychologist of twenty-five-years standing and the director of the NHS trauma unit she heads up, but she is labouring under the all-consuming weight of maternal grief. Her son, Tom, disappeared from family life over a year and a half previously at the age of seventeen, a situation that she has only disclosed to her supervisor, Robert, fearing the judgement and mawkish sympathy of her colleagues. Followed by the breakdown of her marriage and a disintegrating relationship with Tom’s twin sister, Carolyn, Ruth fills the void with an onerous workload in order to avoid confronting her personal situation.

When a fast-tracked referral of a twenty-two-year-old male who has experienced a vicious sexual assault and is displaying classic PTSD symptoms lands on her desk she is unprepared for his striking resemblance to her own son, Tom. The connection between a ruffled Ruth and unstable and distressed, Dan Griffin, is instantaneous and in her capacity as an experienced psychologist Ruth is determined to do what it takes to give him the support she fears she failed to provide Tom with. But with Dan’s patient records delayed and his inability to address certain events in his life, Ruth is groping in the dark and feels conflicted about her fierce resolve to help Dan over and above fellow patients. Even before the first session is out Ruth is, unbeknownst to her colleagues, struggling to maintain clear sight of the boundaries in her therapeutic relationship with Dan and already out of her depth.

It is clear from the outset that Ruth is telling the story in hindsight and for a novel that certainly isn’t an out and out thriller, the ominous foreshadowing and potential for danger makes for razor-sharp suspense and a sense of horrible inevitability from the off. Although the pace is steady throughout and therefore might disappoint readers seeking a pulse-pounding thriller, it is necessary because the narrative is two-fold. Ruth’s therapeutic work with Dan is shown side by side along with her home life and is set against the evolution from infanthood to adolescence of her twins, Tom and Carolyn, as their personalities formed and paths diverged. Not only is Ruth’s enormous guilt at failing Tom chronicled but also her belated recognition of her divisive parenting of Carolyn, the social butterfly and high-achiever of the pair, as she corralled and harangued her largely because she was everything Tom wasn’t. The title refers to the psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott’s theory of 1953 and seems to advocate ‘imperfect parenting’ and this proves fascinating to compare against Ruth’s own personal approach with Carolyn and Tom. The difference in what she practices and what she preaches is telling, with Ruth’s own attempt to paper over the cracks and shelter Tom from the necessary frustrations and difficulties of growing up seemingly the very antithesis of Winnicott’s influential theory.

At times Ruth’s admirable honesty makes for painful reading as her errors of professional judgement mount up despite her innate knowledge that she cannot maintain objectivity or contain her patients emotions and that she is bringing her own issues and guilt to the table. Her own unprocessed grief and regrets as she charts the significant moments of Tom and Carolyn’s childhood and adolescence leaves her painfully exposed and unsupported. As a protagonist I was compelled by her honesty as she inflicts further wounds by rehashing her poor judgement in handling Tom’s loneliness and later, patient Dan’s search for a mother-figure. She is a genuinely nuanced character and even seems to recognise her own need to mother everyone and take on an onerous workload as a distraction from her own family breakdown. It is also noticeable how her own relationship with her alcoholic mother works as a template for her controlling and smothering of Tom as she replicated some of the most striking aspects of her own childhood.

As each incremental transgression across the invisible line between therapist and client erodes the boundaries of Ruth’s professional relationship with Dan and makes it harder to step back, Ruth’s own personal life and mental health further muddies the waters of their involvement. But what does Dan want from her and crucially, is she in a position to support him by offering containment and objectivity? What Bev Thomas makes clear is how it is the therapists role to ‘contain’ the emotions of the patient and to give them a safe and secure space to explore their unresolved emotions and for its astute psychological insight alone this book is a fantastic read. To have combined such a perceptive look at today’s mental health crisis and the aims and responsibility of a therapist with a moving and engrossing storyline is an immense achievement.
Profile Image for Augustė | knygarankoje.
64 reviews25 followers
December 4, 2020
„𝑷𝒂𝒗𝒐𝒋𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒊𝒂𝒖𝒔𝒊𝒂 - 𝒎𝒆𝒍𝒖𝒐𝒕𝒊 𝒔𝒂𝒖 𝒑𝒂č𝒊𝒂𝒎.“

Ši knyga mano #tbr sąraše tupėjo ilgą ilgą laiką, nuo pat tos akimirkos, kai išvydo dienos šviesą ir pasirodė bookstagram’e. Nesu tikra, kas taip stipriai mane prie jos traukė, tačiau psichologinės knygos ir trileriai – mano mėgstamiausi knygų žanrai, o čia kaip tik psichologinis trileris, du viename! Per daug į anotaciją nesigilinau, tačiau perskaičiusi ją žinojau, kad knyga man turi patikti, tad nė neabejojau, jog gavus progą griebsiuosi skaitymo. Štai ir knyga mano rankoje – perskaityta, išanalizuota ir įvertinta.

”Pakankamai gera motina” – tai psichologinis trileris, pasakojantis dvi istorijų linijas: Rut Hatarland, patyrusios psichoterapeutės, Traumų centro direktorės, kasdienybę darbe, darbo su pacientais eigą ir jos asmeniniame gyvenime ištikusią nelaimę – sūnaus Tomo dingimą. Abi pasakojimų temos pinasi tarpusavyje ir leidžia pažvelgti į Rut tiek kaip ir į savo darbo profesionalę, tiek kaip ir į pažeistą, vaiko netekusią motiną, neprarandančią vilties, jog sūnus pas ją sugrįš.

Darbe Rut priskiriamas naujas pacientas – Denas Grifinas. Bet kuriam kitam žmogui jis atrodytų it paprastas vaikinas, besilankantis Traumų centre. Deną kamuoja potrauminio streso sindromas, pykčio priepuoliai ir kiti nemalonūs jausmai po patirto užpuolimo. Tačiau jis nepaprastas Rut. Vaikinas moteriai primena jos dingusį sūnų Tomą. Jei į tokią situaciją būtų pakliuvęs Rut bendradarbis, ši tuoj pat patartų jam perduoti pacientą kitam specialistui, mat tokie jausmai gali pakenkti nešališkam darbui. Tačiau pati ji Deno konsultuoti neatsisako. Nepajėgia atsispirti pagundai ir norui įsikabinti į menkiausias detales ir dalykus, primenančius jai Tomą. Rut nepastebi, kaip greitai visas padėties valdymas išslysta jai iš rankų.

Knyga man patiko. Esu skaičiusi kūrinių panašiu siužetu ir jie man taip pat patiko, tad numaniau, kad šis taip pat neturėtų nuvilti. Į istoriją greitai įsitraukiau, man patiko autorės rašymo stilius, o tai, jog pagrindinė veikėja – psichoterapeutė, dar padidino mano susidomėjimą, mat pati labai domiuosi psichologija bei su ja susijusiomis profesijomis.

Tiesa, buvo momentas, kai pastebėjau, jog knyga jau įpusėjusi, ir savęs paklausiau ”O tai ką aš čia perskaičiau?”. Rodės, kad dar nieko reikšmingo ar šokiruojančio nebuvo įvykę, o norėjosi. Tad gal tik tai man kliuvo – veiksmo trūkumas, nes antrojoje pusėje ir knygai einant į pabaigą, kai pagaliau išsivystė visas įvykis, skaityti buvo daug lengviau ir įdomiau. O nelauktai įsiveržęs nutikimas ir netikėta linkme pasisukęs Rut likimas pabaigoje mane visiškai pritrenkė! Tikrai, net užsidengusi burną skaičiau tuos žodžius, buvo apėmusi tokia įtampa ir nuostaba, kad tai, tikriausiai, atsipirko už ankstesnį knygos lėtą tempą.

Bev Thomas ”Pakankamai gera motina” man pasirodė kiek lėtas, tačiau gerai išvystytas, palaikantis skaitytojo susidomėjimą psichologinis trileris, puikiai tinkantis vis šaltesniems žiemos vakarams. Visų pirma, viršelis visiškai mano skonio, labai patrauklus, estetiškas, akiai gražus, tad tai taip pat nemenkas pliusas. O pačioje knygoje man, asmeniškai, labiausiai patiko skaityti apie Rut Hartland darbą psichoterapeute. Buvo be galo įdomu sekti veikėjos mintis ir žodžius jai konsultuojant, besikalbant su pacientais. Iš tiesų knygoje atradau gal ne visada malonių, bet sau artimų dalykų, kurie privertė į knygą įsijausti, su ja dar labiau suartėti. Manau, kad skaitant galima net atrasti kelias naudingas pamokas. Kokias? Rekomenduoju Bev Thomas psichologinį trilerį ”Pakankamai gera motina” perskaityti ir išsiaiškinti pačiam. Tai puiki knyga trilerių mėgėjams bei psichologija besidomintiems žmonėms.
Profile Image for Galadrielė.
295 reviews146 followers
July 7, 2020
Sutapimas, jog šią knygą perskaičiau po Rasos "16 gydančių istorijų". Tai savotiškas pratęsimas to, ką galime aptikti minėtoje knygoje.

"Pakankamai gera motina" - debiutinis autorės romanas. Autorės, kuri ilgus metus dirbo klinikine psichologe. Kūrinys, paremtas jos profesine patirtimi, o aš jį apibūdinčiau kaip "psichologijos teorija, įvilkta į grožinės literatūros rūbą". Bet jokiu būdu ne sausa teorija, kiekvienas menkas veiksmas aprašomas, paaiškinamas ir įvedamas į siužetą kaip profesionalo komentaras, interpretavimas ar tiesiog patarimas. Ne veltui pagrindinė veikėja - daugelį metų praktikos turinti psichoterapeutė, Traumų centro direktorė, kuri "puikiai įvaldžiusi meną klausytis ir padėti kitiems atsiverti". Tai labiau psichologinis romanas, nei trileris. Jo čia nedaug, bet kiek jo yra - stipru. Veiksmas lėtas, veikėjai stiprūs ir skirtingi, psichologinės problemos ir situacijos labai realios.

Dažnas su panašiais patyrimais ir šia profesija nesusidūręs žmogus įsivaizduoja, jog psichologai/psichoterapeutai gyvena tobulus gyvenimas, jie sugeba puikiai susidoroti su užklumpančiomis problemomis, moka tvardytis ir į viską žvelgti šaltu, analitiniu bei kritišku žvilgsniu, geba tvarkytis su baisiausiomis situacijomis ir idealiai rūpintis šeiminiais (emociniais) reikalais. Ši istorija atskleidžia, jog viskas gyvenime kur kas sudėtingiau. Ir pasitaiko taip, kad net patiems psichologams reikia psichologo, kuris būtų vedliu tiek asmeniniame, tiek profesiniame gyvenime.

Kita istorijos pusė siejasi su knygos pavadinimu. Pakankamai gera motina. Ar užtenka būti pakankamai gera, kokios ypatybės įeina į šias "pareigas", kur yra riba tarp pakankamai geros ir geros motinos? Išties sukelia nemažai apmąstymų. O aš galiu pasidžiaugti, jog tai pirmas motinystės tematikos kūrinys, kuris paliko tikrai gerą įspūdį. Nors labai giliai į širdį neįsirėžė ir antrą kartą neskaityčiau, bet savo patirtį vertinu teigiamai. 
Profile Image for Maureen DeLuca.
1,038 reviews32 followers
February 20, 2021
I'm giving this 3 stars because I feel bad giving it 2. It was painfully slow in parts- too slow, and then after that I just didn't care. I know. It has to be me- I'm having trouble finding books I like. So , on to the next !
Profile Image for Klaudia_p.
496 reviews81 followers
September 25, 2022
Jaka durna fabuła, a do tego nudna. Chyba nie ma gorszego połączenia.
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