The Perfect Child by Lucinda Berry is a psychological suspense thriller. With well-established careers as a nurse and an orthopaedic surgeon, Hannah and her husband Mark have spent the last few years trying to have a baby. After problems trying to conceive and failed pregnancies and with Hannah having reached her 40th birthday, time is running out. Not wanting to let go of their dream to have a family Mark is excited to explore international adoption, however, Hannah’s heart holds out for a baby that she will carry.
Their plans and lives are changed with the arrival of malnourished, abused and feral six-year-old Janie in the ER.
Mark is assigned as Janie’s surgeon to repair the horrendous results of years of abuse on her tiny body. The two connect instantly and Mark can’t stop thinking about the little girl. Determined to give Janie the best chances and recovery he offers up his and Hannah’s services as foster parents.
With trepidation, Hannah agrees and the couple opens their hearts and home to the little girl. However, Hannah soon discovers that Janie is not what she seems, manipulation and disturbing behaviour push Hannah closer to the edge and threatens to destroy her marriage.
While the content is disturbing this was such a fun book to read. It kept me engrossed and turning the pages. The book tackles some difficult subjects like child abuse and failed pregnancies but I think it’s done well and are true drivers in the story and I do not feel like they are there for shock value.
I recommend this book to readers who like dark thrillers.
Excerpt from The Perfect Child by Lucinda Berry
“I knew something serious had happened, but I didn’t have any idea what it was or who was involved.” I glanced down at my phone for the third time, willing it to vibrate. It wasn’t like I was under arrest. I could leave anytime I wanted, but there was no way to leave without looking like I was hiding something.
“What did you think when you found out it was the Bauer family?”
I swallowed past the emotions pushing their way up my throat. “I hoped that it would finally provide them with some answers. They’re like family to me.”
He glanced down at the open file spread out before him. “It says here that you were the original social worker assigned to the case?”
I nodded, then quickly remembered I was being recorded. “Yes.”
“What was that like?”
How could I describe what the last two years had been like? It was the most complicated case of my career and had ended with the worst possible outcome. I’d doubted myself at so many different points, wondering if I’d made the right decisions for everyone involved—what if I’d been wrong? What if I was partially responsible for all this? I took a deep breath, trying to clear my thoughts.
“You couldn’t have asked for a better home for Janie. I’ve been in children’s services for over twenty years, and there are plenty of bad foster homes. A lot of foster parents just do it for the money, so they run their families like businesses, but the Bauers were one of the good ones. All they wanted to do was help.” My eyes welled with tears, and I couldn’t hold them back, even though I tried. I wiped them away quickly, embarrassed to look so soft in front of him. “I’m sorry. This is all just happening so fast.”