What if you were accused of neglecting or harming your child?
What if the Disease of the Week suddenly jumped off the lifestyle pages and entered your life?
What if your family were subjected to a trauma that left your marriage rocky and your spouse’s love severely tested?
What if secrets in your family history suddenly forced you to make decisions you’d never even considered?
What if your distant past became public in a very negative, defamatory, even racist manner?
In More than it Hurts You, Darin Strauss takes these questions and weaves a plot that traps its characters in tangled nets that will twist and shape their lives forever.
Josh and Dori Goldin rush their baby, Zach, to the ER after Dori sees blood in his vomit. Dori, a phlebotomist who speaks Hospital Language like a native, notices an omission in the testing. Bringing this to the attention of the doctors in pediatrics has an unwanted result; the doctors over test in an apparent effort to overcome their earlier mistake. When Dori and Jack object to the invasive procedures on their eight-month-old, an all-out battle begins that escalates into a war that none of the participants could have imagined. It’s not a spoiler to let you know that a court case, Child Protective Services, and Munchhausen’s by Proxy are just a few of the many twisted and knotted threads of this tapestry. Surprises await the reader at around each corner of the hospital corridors, at each turn of the page.
The story is outrageous, yet believable. I’ve had contact with CPS in my work as an elementary teacher. The social workers in this field are caring yet overworked professionals. They do their best with the tools they’re given. But an accusation, true or false, proven or unproven, can shatter a family’s emotional balance for years, if not for life.
Strauss tells the story through the character’s emotions more than through their actions. Their inner traits, the manner in which they approach emergencies, their skills (or lack thereof) with personal interactions, all contribute to bringing the reader deeply into the sticky web of a complex story. With this character focus, however, comes the potential for confusion. A few character names are too similar, making it essential to interrupt the flow to stop and think, “Who is this?” before continuing on. Darlene vs. Dori in particular lead to confusion where clarity would be more valuable. But don’t let this small glitch stop you from reading More than it Hurts You by Darin Strauss. Strauss knows his characters well, and by the time you finish the book, you’ll know them, too.
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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free of charge in order to read it and write this review. After my family of readers finishes it, I will share my copy.