There’s nothing better than a good thriller—the excitement, the mystery, and of course the unexpected twists. But more often than I’d like, the promises on the inside flap fall flat, causing me to close the book with a disappointed sigh rather than an excited gasp.
I think I’ve figured out why some thrillers fly high, while many others crash and burn. The secret lies in character development. When the emphasis is on the plot rather than the people, the book feels superficial, like a sapling that would blow over in a stiff breeze, but when the characters are real, complicated people, the story grows roots, anchoring itself firmly in the reader’s heart and mind.
A terrific thriller that keeps you guessing right up to the final page, Her Daughter’s Mother also offers so much more. Lana Stone and her partner, Tyler, have been trying to conceive for several years. When Lana finally becomes pregnant through an egg donor, she is ecstatic despite the fact that Tyler walked out on the relationship a few days earlier. The more she thinks about Katya, her egg donor, the more obsessed she becomes. When the two women happen to run into each other on the subway, they develop a fast friendship. Katya doesn’t know who Lana is, but she feels an unexplained connection to her. After Katya suddenly goes missing, the story takes off and doesn’t slow down until the stunning conclusion.
The shifting perspectives from Lana to Katya to Tyler allow the reader to see the story from all sides of the mystery. Just when you think you’ve figured out what’s going on, the perspective shifts and everything you thought you knew goes out the window. You never know who’s telling the truth, which characters you can trust and which ones you can’t. Hearing the story from three viewpoints also allows Petrova to explore the emotional repercussions of fertility treatment from different angles of this complicated issue. What is it like to carry a baby that’s not genetically related to you? How do you shoulder the guilt of being related to your baby when your partner isn’t? How does it feel to know you’ve helped create a baby whom you don’t even know?
Daniela Petrova is a supremely impressive person. When she immigrated from Bulgaria at age 22, she didn’t speak any English and a little more than 20 years later, she has written a page-turning novel in her second language. In complete awe of her talent and tenacity, I can’t wait to read whatever she writes next.