Review of “Mother May I” by Joshilyn Jackson

Bree, 38, grew up poor in rural Georgia, but managed to reinvent herself enough to become the wife of successful attorney Robert “Trey” Cabbat. She and her husband live in the wealthy suburb of Decatur, Georgia and have three children, the youngest of whom, Robert, is only ten weeks old.

While Bree was thoroughly immersed in watching a school show rehearsal in which her daughter had a leading role, Bree’s son, near her side in his car seat, was stolen away from her. A note was left In place of his seat, telling her to go home for further instructions if she ever wanted to see her son again. Above all, she was not to contact the police or even tell her husband, who was away on business at the time.

After following the rest of the instructions she was given, her old friend Marshall – a former policeman – inadvertently became aware of what was happening, and offered to help. Together they tried to find out who did this and why, embarking on a tense race against time to save Robert, if indeed he was still actually alive.

Although it would spoil the plot to reveal any of what they discovered, one can at least say that the issues unearthed by Jackson are not only topical and realistic, but her treatment of them is much more nuanced than how they are usually covered by the media. For these reasons it would be an excellent choice for book clubs.

Like Jackson’s other female protagonists, Bree is fiercely protective of her children, and passionately loyal to her friends and family. This book also echoes Jackson’s previous entry in the “domestic suspense” genre, Never Have I Ever: A Novel in that a woman who thinks she has everything she has dreamed of finds that her safe and protected world is upended by secrets from the past.

Evaluation: Jackson is an excellent author, writing intelligently about concerns of women, importance of families, and contemporary issues. In this book, all of this unfolds on a roller coaster ride of suspense.

Rating: 4/5

Published by William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins, 2021

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5 Responses to Review of “Mother May I” by Joshilyn Jackson

  1. Lloyd Russell says:

    I’ve never read Jackson. Have you read others? Is she good?


  2. Jeanne says:

    Yikes. I have no stomach for kidnapped children books. For me they’re like some people feel about books in which the dog dies–if I were to read one, I’d have to have a spoiler about whether the child is returned.

  3. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Joshilyn Jackson’s books but haven’t gotten around to reading any of them yet. This sounds like a great one!

  4. Hahahha, I’m like Jeanne, I would need to know ahead of time if the child gets returned in the end. Luckily we have the technology for that! I will just read the end when I pick it up at the library!

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