A Mother Would Know by Amber Garza
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Valerie, a mother of two adult children, widow and former lead vocalist in a band, lives alone in her large Victorian home with her chocolate lab, Bowie. Valerie has led a busy life and is finally settling into a more quiet lifestyle.
Unfortunately, she’s also noticed some disturbing changes recently with her memory. Having lost her own mother to the horrible disease of Alzheimer’s, Valerie is very aware of the signs and symptoms. She is fearful she may be experiencing an early-onset of the disease.
Her daughter, Kendra, expresses concerns as well when Valerie seems to be forgetting plans they had made, like babysitting her grandson. Kendra attempts to help her mom with vitamins and diet suggestions.
She’s still concerned about Valerie living on her own though, with the way things seem to be progressing. Luckily, Valerie’s son, Hudson, a bit down on his luck after a recent break-up, is able to come and stay with her.
Hudson has grown distant since a traumatizing incident in high school, but Valerie loves her son very much and is anxious for a chance to reconnect with him. He’s a grown man now, surely they can finally put the past behind them.
Kendra and Hudson definitely still have a contentious relationship though, so when the entire family is together things can get tense. After a time though, they all start to settle into a bit of a routine. It’s nice.
That is until a young woman up the street is murdered in her home. For some reason, Valerie has images in her mind of Hudson being out on the night of the murder, seeing him come in late. Is she imagining this, or are these memories?
She starts to think Hudson is acting suspiciously. Could he have had something to do with this young woman’s death? How well does she even know her son?
I found A Mother Would Know highly-entertaining and addicting, much like Garza’s earlier works. I was actually late to work on the day I finished this because I needed to know the truth. I could not put it down.
Garza’s writing style is very fluid and easy to get into. I found this story to be so compelling and I had a million different theories along the way. It was so much fun trying to figure it out.
The narrative is a nice blend of Valerie’s present-perspective mixed with her remembrances of the past. A lot of the events in her current life make her reminisce on the past, both bad and good.
I think this made a lot of sense considering Valerie’s fears regarding her memory. A lot of the time, I felt like being in her head thinking about the past was kind of like an exercise for her, trying to figure out how much she still recalled and whether or not it was true.
We also get an additional, more mysterious, perspective that helps to build the tension of the story, as well as contributing to the final reveal.
I really enjoyed Valerie as a character. I know that she may not be for everyone, but I found her to be realistic and relatable. I genuinely liked her.
Valerie was in a band, a fairly successful one, and when her kids were young, she spent a lot of her time out of the home, particularly at night performing. Therefore, her husband, was the primary caregiver for the kids.
There’s a lot of unresolved issues within their family because of that and I liked learning about those things and watching them all try to navigate those sensitive waters as adults.
Additionally, I enjoyed the drama of their neighborhood. They live in a fairly high-income neighborhood, where everyone knows everyone’s business and there’s frequently someone watching and talking about what they see.
I am always down for neighborhood drama, so I felt like this was a fun backdrop from the story. Valerie and her family have a lot of history in this neighborhood too and definitely some enemies.
The mystery was compelling and I loved being along for the ride with Valerie. She was willing to do anything to figure out whether her son was innocent or not. The tension got pretty high, with a startling conclusion.
Overall, I had a lot of fun reading this one and will absolutely pick up anything else Garza writes.
Thank you to the publisher, MIRA, for providing me with a copy to read and review.
I have enjoyed all of Garza’s books so far and am super excited to see what she comes up with next!