Monday, October 4, 2010

Book Review: Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten

Saving Max 
Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten
Publisher: Mira
Publish Date: September 28, 2010
Paperback, 384 pages
General Fiction, Suspense, Thriller

My Review:
Why I read this: I was asked by the publicist if I would like to read it and I really like the titles put out by Mira Books.  I read the description and I knew I was hooked and had to read this one.

How is the novel driven:  Action and character, since this is a suspense/thriller novel, action is the dominant driving force, but character development is key as well.

My thoughts: I have read mixed reviews so I wasn't sure what I was going to think about this one before I started.  But as I started reading this one and as I finished I realized I'm on the gushing side of this one. 

Saving Max hooked me from the first page which takes place in the present and then the book starts and goes back to the point in time where the prologue occurred and then the events after.  It's an intriguing start and when the event that occurs in the prologue finally occurs in the timeline of the book - I found I was still really shocked.

As the book continues, the suspense ratchets up.  I went through so many emotions and so many things that I thought was happening only for the author to keep proving me wrong.  Then there is a final aha moment where I figured it out, but it doesn't end there, I was kept on the edge of my seat right up until the end.

The suspense is very tightly written and it is something that will keep the suspense lover intrigued through the book.  I liked the mother of an autistic child (Max has Asperger's) angle and how that mother had a high-stress job as well as being a single-mother yet she still did the best she could for her child.  The book is well-written, the characters are very intriguing.  There is some romance, some family, lots of suspense and it is just a great book.  I think this is one I'll be recommending for awhile. 

Danielle is a character I think most moms will relate to, she is simply trying to balance a career with a personal life and then add a special needs child on top of that.  But she loves him like every mother loves her child no matter what the problems are and she simply wants the best for him, and she never stops wanting the best for him and will sacrifice herself and take risks to make sure he is taken care of.  I think of her as an admirable character and I really like how she is developed through the book.

When I read Heather Gudenkauf's The Weight of Silence for review last year - it was her first book and I felt like it was one of those iffy things, will I like it or won't I, but again it was a Mira book and I love this Harlequin Imprint.  I ended up loving The Weight of Silence and that is how I feel about Saving Max as well.  Antoinette van Heugten is an author worth giving that first chance, and after you read her I'm sure you will want to read more from her and as soon as possible (hint, hint Mira books and Antoinette!)

My Rating: 4.75/5.0

About the Book:
Max Parkman—autistic and whip-smart, emotionally fragile and aggressive—is perfect in his mother's eyes. Until he's accused of murder.

Attorney Danielle Parkman knows her teenage son Max's behavior has been getting worse—using drugs and lashing out. But she can't accept the diagnosis she receives at a top-notch adolescent psychiatric facility that her son is deeply disturbed. Dangerous.

Until she finds Max, unconscious and bloodied, beside a patient who has been brutally stabbed to death.
Trapped in a world of doubt and fear, barred from contacting Max, Danielle clings to the belief that her son is innocent. But has she, too, lost touch with reality? Is her son really a killer?

With the justice system bearing down on them, Danielle steels herself to discover the truth, no matter what it is. She'll do whatever it takes to find the killer and to save her son from being destroyed by a system that's all too eager to convict him.

About the Author:
Author, former international lawyer and mother, Antoinette van Heugten knows first hand the challenges and struggles of parenting a child with Asperger's syndrome.  Her new thriller, Saving Max (Mira Books/Harlequin, October 2010, $13.95), follows mother and lawyer, Danielle Parkman as she admits her autistic son, Max to a psychiatric hospital for increasingly violent behavior.  When Max is accused of murdering another patient, Danielle races to solve the case and uses her legal prowess to prove her son's innocence.  Danielle stands by the son she has always struggled to protect -- even when no one else believes in him.

A member of variou autism support organizations, van Heugten has experience helping parents whose children have been diagnosed with the developmental disorder. Although fictional, Saving Max parallels parts of van Heugten's own relationship with her autistic sons, and the daily struggles of defending and advocating for them at a time when autism was not widely understood.

Her Website

FTC Information: I received this book from Phenix and Phenix Literary Publicists for review.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.


justpeachy36 said...

I just finished this one and I'll have to say... It was a great book, filled with a lot of suspense and mystery, but also a very real portrait of how some people, even with high functioning autism are viewed... Aspberger's I think is very difficult because it is focused on social anxieties, which is hard for people who don't even have the disease...

Great book!

Great review!

Julie said...

As a single mother of a son with an autistic disorder (PDD/NOS initially, but looks as though it is Aspberger's instead), even the first review I read of this book resonated with me. I have to make certain it is on my GoodReads to-buy list for my Christmas book box!

Julie @ Knitting and Sundries

Portugal said...

Saving Max will hook readers, especially the parents of a child on the Autism Spectrum. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the mother and her son arrive in Iowa and never slows down with several incredible realistic twists until the final courtroom denouement. Readers will understand how far Danielle will go to protect Max, but Antoinette Van Heugten's medical-legal thriller is his story as he struggles with his relationships with others.

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