Is “suburban murder” a trope? Because, if so, it’s one that I’m a fan of. Something about the picture perfect ideal of suburban life interrupted by the harshness of murder just hits in a way that keeps me coming back for more. So imagine my delight when I received an eARC of The New Mother by Nora Murphy!
Natalie is a new mother and she loves her son Oliver more than anything - but he also exhausts her past the point of exhaustion. Lonely, tired, and stuck in a new home that doesn’t feel like home yet while her husband returns to his busy work life, Natalie realizes that being a mom is not all she imagined it would be. Along comes her neighbor Paul, the stay-at-home dad that provides a calming presence for Oliver, allowing her to feel like she can take a little bit of time for herself. But Paul’s motives are not quite innocent as they seem and Natalie is too overwhelmed to see otherwise.
It has been a few years since my daughter was a newborn, but this book and Natalie’s experience sent me right back to those sleepless first few weeks. Natalie’s story unabashedly tells the experience that some new mothers feel but are ashamed to admit. The feeling of not being “good enough” or being judged as a “bad mother” is overwhelming and, on top of all of that, you have to actually keep a whole other human alive. This story allows new mothers to feel seen in their isolation and provides warning signs for postpartum conditions that can go unnoticed if you don’t know what to look for. It is also a great reminder to their partners to pay close attention and do more than just a cursory check in. It really does take a village and this book does a good job of reminding us of that.
The story is told primarily through Natalie's first person POV, but there are some bits told in other characters' third person POV, which feels like it increases the tension, anxiety, and suspense you feel as the story unfolds. It’s like that moment in a movie where you can see where the killer is hiding and ready to attack someone and you want to yell at the screen telling them to turn around. You want to yell at Natalie to run away, but she doesn’t have all the same information that you have and it’s deliciously frustrating.
Once I started reading this book, I could hardly put it down. It was incredibly relatable and anxiety-inducing and I found myself thinking about what was going to happen next even in moments I had to step away from reading. A page-turning thriller that doesn’t really keep you guessing but does keep the suspense and anxiety dialed up right through to the very end.
The New Mother by Nora Murphy hits shelves on May 30, 2023 and you can preorder your copy here.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well!