Before I Let You Go (Kelly Rimmer, Hachette)
Successful physician Lexie receives a frantic call in the middle of the night—her younger sister Annie is addicted to heroin and heavily pregnant. Lexie rushes Annie to hospital, but the question is: will the baby survive, and if it does, will Annie be granted custody of her own child? The baby is likely to be born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, which means it will go into drug withdrawal after birth. Annie may not only lose custody of her baby, but also face prosecution for chemical endangerment. Most of the story is set in the hospital, as lawyers and child protection services get involved in the case. While the pace could be quicker in these sections, it does start moving at a more satisfying clip in the final act, as the action moves away from the hospital and into Lexie’s home. A subplot about the sisters’ childhood experiences in a religious sect adds an interesting backstory, and it’s a shame this part of the story isn’t explored in greater depth. The medical and legal details are interesting, but they come at the expense of well-developed characters, and some of the dialogue doesn’t ring true. It’s the themes that take centre stage here, and the story is ripe for book club discussion and would suit readers of family dramas and contemporary women’s fiction.
Melinda Allan is a librarian and freelance reviewer