Jess is a picture-perfect stay at home mother; she is pretty, thin, and has three beautiful children, including her beautiful baby Betsey. She is married to Ed, a successful businessman who works long days and nights to sustain his family and help his wife stay home. Jess’ world is flipped upside down when she finds herself being charged with negligent parenting after bringing Betsey into the ER. To make matters worse, the charges have been filed by Jess’ friend and ER doctor, Liz, who she befriended in a mother-baby group with their first children.
The story is told from the competing perspectives of Jess and Liz. Liz is a hard-working mother who feels terrible for reporting Jess. However, Betsey’s injuries appear serious; it seems as though she sustained a head injury, an injury that resulted in Betsey seizing and remaining hospitalized. Jess’ story of how Betsey got injured is inconsistent, making everyone around her wonder if she committed an unforgivable crime.
Did the taxing nature of motherhood cause Jess to hurt her child? Or is someone else responsible for Betsey’s serious injury?
Perhaps the guilty party is Ed, who might be having an affair on the side with Jess’ friend, Charlotte. Or maybe it is one of Jess’ sons, who are somewhat neglected due to the arrival of their newborn sister, Betsey. Or maybe it is Jess herself, who has been suffering from delusions and anxiety since she had Betsey. Liz also seems to have some skeletons in her closet and is working with doctors who are notoriously difficult to please.
This book is a good character study on the challenges and difficulties of being a parent. I appreciated the time the author put into developing the plot and characters. There were also lots of twists and turns that were unexpected that kept me engaged and interested in the book.
Thank you to Atria/Emily Bestler Books, NetGalley, and the author, Sarah Vaughan, for an advanced reader copy of Little Disasters!