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Mother Knows Best


Mother Knows Best

In MOTHER KNOWS BEST, author Kira Peikoff puts a disturbing spin on the classic saying and asks readers to consider not only what it means to be a mother, but what it means to be human --- and how far we can push science to its limits when creating humans. Told from three shocking and compulsively readable points of view, this novel is equal parts gripping thriller, thought-provoking science fiction and emotionally taut family drama.

Claire Abrams wants nothing more than to be a mother. Like many women, not only does she feel her biological clock ticking, she constantly worries that her family will be incomplete until she and her husband, Ethan, can have a baby. But one thing sets Claire apart: she has a genetic mutation that she can pass on to any offspring --- a fact she knows all too well, given that she lost her first child, Colton, to her genes when he was only eight. Now, three years later, she is ready to give up --- until she learns of Robert Nash, a controversial genetic scientist who believes he can isolate the risky parts of her eggs and combine them with the healthy parts of another woman's. There is only one catch: any resulting child will, genetically, have two mothers and one father.

"MOTHER KNOWS BEST is a fast-paced, intriguing novel with terrific, believable characters...and will make for an enjoyable evening or two for readers of all genres..."

Even worse for Claire, her husband is morally and ethically opposed to genetic experiments on humans, believing all mutations to be a slight against the miracle of life. So when Claire finally meets Dr. Nash and his cunning, brilliant assistant, Jillian Hendricks, she keeps her choices a secret, believing everything will work out if she can just get pregnant. Together, she, Dr. Nash and Jillian steam ahead full force, resulting in the first-ever fetus created from one father and two mothers. But her decision, of course, has disastrous and devastating consequences --- for her family, the law and the future of genetic science.

Flash forward a decade later: Miracle child Abigail knows she is loved by her parents, but she cannot help notice their idiosyncrasies and whispered anxieties. None of them have a smartphone, her mother almost never leaves the house, and they live basically off the grid --- save for one outing to the city each year, when they celebrate the life of her deceased brother. Frustrated by her parents' secrecy, Abigail is delighted when she does a DNA test and uploads her results online, only to learn that she has several distant cousins, including one who is desperate to meet her.

With the past knocking at her door, Claire realizes that the jig is up. The controversial procedure she had done to create Abigail has kept her prisoner in her own home, but now another woman is involved: Abigail's other mother. Desperate to protect her daughter and wild with grief, Claire will stop at nothing to keep her daughter safe --- but then again, neither will her other mother, a woman who has lost years of her life to Abigail's creation and is ready to get back what she feels she deserves.

Alternating timelines and voices, Peikoff guides us through not only the procedure of Abigail's conception, but also the resulting media explosion, Claire's grief, Abigail's confusion and, of course, Jillian's fury. The scientific explanations are riveting and just believable enough, but never get bogged down in academic jargon, making for a fun but poignant exploration of the science of birth and genetics. Peikoff keeps her pacing tight and guides readers through the book at a breakneck speed --- all while debating such serious and controversial ideas as nature vs. nurture, the rights of humans to procreate, and how we can ensure that our children will be healthy without delving too far into the uncanny valley.

MOTHER KNOWS BEST is a fast-paced, intriguing novel with terrific, believable characters. Though it may be light on the science at times, it is never light on the suspense and will make for an enjoyable evening or two for readers of all genres --- especially during spooky season.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on October 4, 2019

Mother Knows Best
by Kira Peikoff