Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Saving Madeline---Review

by Julie Coulter Bellon

*If you make a comment, you will be entered into a drawing to own this newly released book. Good luck!

Saving Madeline, a new novel by Rachel Ann Nunes is a book you can discuss with your friends and family long after you’ve finished the story. She brings forth so many moral and ethical issues, it really makes you think. Of course, it is also a book that will keep you turning pages to see what the characters decide to do in the end.

She starts out with a defense attorney, Caitlyn McLoughlin, defending an accused rapist. She knows her client is guilty, and instead of upholding her oath as a defense attorney, she instead practically gift-wraps a conviction for the prosecution. Frankly, I was put off by that because, with our judicial system, even the guilty deserve a fair trial. Caitlyn feels jaded, however, because of her job and the guilty men she’s helped go free and as she watches the victim’s family, she doesn’t want to see this man get out to hurt another young woman. So, professionally, she’s done something that could possibly get her disbarred, but personally, she’s done something so she can live with herself. It begs the question: What would you do?

Nunes also brings out the question of, if you are a parent, is there anything you wouldn’t do to protect your child? What if it included doing something illegal?

Parker Hathaway is a law-abiding citizen, but knows his daughter is in danger and he wants to protect her. The only problem is he doesn’t have custody. He is conflicted, but goes ahead with his plan anyway, knowing he would risk everything for his little girl. Things don’t go as planned, and Parker ends up in an overloaded system where officers and social workers aren’t inclined to give second chances to anyone. Would you risk jail time for any of your children?

Caitlyn McLoughlin is assigned to Parker Hathaway’s case and she can’t decide if she believes Parker or not, but agrees to defend him anyway. She becomes wrapped up in his life and the lines between attorney and client are blurred. But is Parker manipulating her and the system? There doesn’t seem to be much evidence to back up his claims of danger to the child, but Caitlyn digs deeper and what she finds requires her to put everything on the line. Does she have the courage to do what needs to be done?

Nunes provides a realistic glance into a world where right and wrong aren’t easily determined and choices are never black and white. There were some parts that had me shaking my head, others where I was nodding in agreement, but I loved that the characters were flawed and realistic and that they didn’t have any easy answers either. I think Nunes does an amazing job writing the emotion and it packs a punch. Be prepared to ride a roller coaster with the ups and downs of a book that I can say had me thinking about it for days after I finished it.

Saving Madeline
by Rachel Ann Nunes
Published by Shadow Mountain
Visit Rachel at her website


At 9/03/2009 1:42 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

This sounds like a fascinating book! Thanks for the review, Julie.

At 9/04/2009 10:15 AM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

This looks very interesting!!

At 9/04/2009 1:13 PM, Blogger Lisa And Randy said...

I'm looking forward to reading this book. It sounds like a terrific book, and so relevant in today's world.

At 9/04/2009 1:45 PM, Blogger Char said...

I'm excited to read this. It sounds very intriguing.

At 9/04/2009 1:57 PM, Blogger MelWhett said...

I love Rachel Nunes. I can't wait to read her book.

At 9/04/2009 2:27 PM, Blogger Polly85 said...

Rachel, I can't wait to read this! I love novels that involve the 'law'. You're amazing!! (:

At 9/04/2009 2:54 PM, Blogger Janet Kay Jensen said...

I've read and reviewed the book also at my blog:

I agree with Julie's point about defense attorneys and what their responsibilities are.

I felt that in the book there is an assumption that if you are a defense attorney all of your clients are guilty and should be punished accordingly. Not so.

The job of the defense attorney is to build a strong case for their client, who, in our system, is "presumed innocent until proven guilty" and therefore to force the prosecution (the state) to prove the person's guilt. That is what the system requires. Of course the system is flawed, as Rachel illustrates so clearly in her book.

Caitlin is willing to step over the line to see that her client is convicted. Ethically, she has put herself in jeopardy, and if her actions are discovered, her client could go free. Morally, we all want to see him behind bars. This engages the reader and forces us to think about moral and ethical issues.

Yet I can see Caitlin's dilemma clearly: she doesn't want to see her client go free on a technicality, or be convicted for a lesser crime, because he is truly a danger to society. That conflict was handled very well. The reader is forced to wonder "in her place, what would I do?"

Another issue for me was sexual harassment in the workplace. Caitlin doesn't report it because she knows her harasser has information that could lead to the loss of her job and possibly being disbarred. I felt that Caitlin is too strong of a character to just let the harassment go unreported. It does come out later, and there are witnesses to confirm her charges. but I'd like to think she'd act immediately when the harassment occurs. In terms of the plot, withholding the charges does give her something to use against her harasser at a critical time.

Rachel deals with conflict, gray areas and ethical issues very well and really forces the reader to think about them.

I liked her strong characters, and especially the younger sister, who is disabled. Caitlin is totally responsible for her. The love and devotion she shows for her sister is very touching, and the love she receives back from her sister is a great comfort in her life. Acceptance of disabilities is a strong theme in the book and is handled very well.

Drug abuse and the protection of childrem who are exposed to its dangers is handled very well also.

Of course there is a romantic element, and Caitlin has conflicts and confusion in this area, too, as she is very cautious about dating, yet longs for marriage with a solid and trustworthy partner.

Rachel weaves all of this seamlessly into her plot. This is a thought-provoking book.

This sounds like a second review, as I've already poste one on my blog, and I guess it is. That's because the book does make you think about the issues long after you have read the last page.

At 9/04/2009 4:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its nice to read a story that does not reflect a 'black and white" issue perspective and that under a given set of circumstances we all have pause to consider our course of action?
Even strong people might not react to sexual harassment right away preferring to take a "don't get mad-get even" strategy to their antagonist-all in all sounds like a good read to support a lively dinner table discussion to an otherwise mundane menu given the economic times!

At 9/04/2009 6:49 PM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

I love books that make me think. I'll be sure to check it out.

At 9/04/2009 9:48 PM, Blogger Laurie LC Lewis said...

Rachel Ann Nunes' "Saving Madeline" adds another gritty, complex page-turner to the LDS market. Great news for all of us... readers and authors!

At 9/04/2009 11:52 PM, Blogger Primarymary said...

I am looking forward to reading this book, it looks really good.

At 9/07/2009 7:11 PM, Blogger Sue said...

This sounds like a great book. I love all of Racheals work.

At 9/11/2009 9:22 AM, Blogger D'ann said...

i'm looking forward to reading this book, thanks for the revies!

At 9/15/2009 3:12 PM, Blogger Nichole Giles said...

I was lucky enough to read this book and will be reviewing it on my blog Wednesday, Sept. 16th.

I also love that Nunes has written flawed characters, who have to make hard decisions in a gray world. The story hit home for me in more than one way. It's a great book, and I highly recommend it!

Nice review.



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