In a thought-provoking storytelling debut, part-time Aspenite Amy Bourret has taken the age-old ethics-versus-emotions battle, embroiled it in a modern web of legal implications, and packaged it in Mothers & Other Liars (St. Martin’s Press, August).
Bourret’s heroine, 19-year-old Ruby Leander, wasn’t planning on becoming a mother—until she discovered a baby girl abandoned in a rest-stop trash can. Her life changed drastically when she rescued the infant and moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, taking her motherhood cues wherever she could get them—even by trailing a mother of five around the local Wal-Mart.
Nine years later, Ruby and her daughter, Lark, are the quintessential mother-daughter team, À la Gilmore Girls. Happy and expecting another child, Ruby, by all accounts, has it all—until she sees a baby photo of her daughter in a tabloid. Lark’s biological family, robbed of their baby so many years earlier, is still looking for her. Having kept the secret locked away, Ruby must figure out how to explain to her daughter why she hid the truth. A complicated, heartrending struggle ensues as Ruby is forced to decipher a complex and unforgiving legal system to fight for a child who was never rightfully hers.
With straightforward prose and short, page-turning chapters, Bourret transitions smoothly from present to past and back again, and she explores the legal ramifications of Ruby’s actions with a precision that stems from her background as a lawyer. The story takes a page from Jodi Picoult’s popular novels, and though it’s missing that Picoult-ian topical development, the characters and insightful narrative leave us looking forward to Bourret’s next crack at fiction.