Sunday, September 26, 2010

Saving Max

by Antoinette van Heugten
Mira 375 pages
978-0-7783-2963-3
Submitted by Phoenix and Phoenix
Rating 4.5

Have you ever wondered how far you would go to save your child?
Danielle Parkman is an up-and-coming litigator in a New York law firm which expects much from her. She is also a single mother of Max, a teenager with Aspergers Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. Max has recently become more physically violent and Danielle has caught him using drugs. What has prompted the emergency appointment with Max's psychiatrist is the journal Danielle has found under his bed with detailed suicide plans. The psychiatrist recommends that Danielle commit Max to Maitland, an internationally renowned hospital.

Shortly after Max has been admitted he begins to exhibit psychotic and violent behavior. His treatment team holds a meeting with Danielle to tell her of Max's diagnosis. The diagnosis is grave and Danielle doesn't believe it; this is not the Max she's ever known. So she sets about to prove the diagnosis wrong. Then a few days later Danielle finds Max huddled in the corner of another boy's room. The boy is dead and Max is covered in blood and clutching the murder weapon.

Danielle, barred from her son and charged with a few felonies, sets out with the help of her attorney and his private investigator to prove that her son is innocent. She adds another few felonies to her record as she slips her ankle bracelet and travels across the country to gather evidence against the person she is convinced is the real murderer.

This is an enjoyable book, a good read. The plot is deftly executed. The action begins on page 1 and never flags. The resolution is in doubt right up until the last few pages. The characters ring true except possibly parts of Danielle's defense attorney but not other parts, so I'll let you readers make that call. It is my opinion that the thriller genre loses something due to the obligatory romance. I usually find these to be extraneous and a gnat you want to slap. Mercifully, this one is quickly relegated to the back burner so we can get on with the story. The thriller parts as well as the courtroom parts are believable and well drawn. I read for hours at a time to know how it would end. You will too.

I look forward to more from this promising author. I give this a 4.5 on a scale of 5.

Antoinette van Heugten, author of Saving Max, is certainly qualified to write this story. She has two autistic boys, one of which has been hospitalized, and Ms. van Heugten also had problems accepting her son's diagnosis. She too was an attorney. For an interview with the author click on this link http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/interviews/article/44014-a-parent-s-worst-nightmare-pw-talks-with-antoinette-van-heugten.html

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