Author: Susi Fox
Published: April 2nd 2018
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Crime, Psychological, Thriller
Rating: 5 stars
You wake up alone after an emergency caesarean, desperate to see your child. And when you are shown the small infant in the nursery, a terrible thought takes root: this baby is not your baby.
No one believes you. Not the nurses, your father or even your own husband. They say you’re confused and delusional. Dangerous.
But you’re a doctor – you know how easily mistakes can be made. It’s up to you to find your real child, your miracle baby, before it’s too late.
With everyone against you, is it safe to trust your instincts? Or are memories from your past clouding your judgement? This can’t all be in your head . . . can it?
Victorian based GP turned writer Susi Fox has made her presence known on the Australian publishing scene with her debut novel, Mine. With the main crux of the novel revolving around a possible stolen a baby and one new mother’s fight to reclaim her baby, Mine is one emotional based tale. I am going to say straight up this one of the best psychological fiction based novels I have read for this year and I do not think Mine will be leaving my side for quite some time yet. It is one of those stomach churning, anxiety ridden novels that plays havoc with your mind and it is one new release that should not be missed.
Sasha Moloney has longed for her own child to complete her family with her husband Mark. After a number of miscarriages and almost losing her marriage in the process, Sasha is finally pregnant. When she is involved in an accident at 35 weeks pregnant, Sasha is taken to the nearest hospital for an emergency caesarean and her birth plan thrown out of the window. As she was unconscious for the caesarean section, when Sasha awakes after her operation, she find her room empty, both her husband and new baby are missing. Alarm bells ring loudly and panic sets in. When she finally gains access to her baby in the nursery, a shocking realisation falls over Sasha, the baby in the crib is not hers. When Sasha raises this concern, she is met by opposition and suspicion from all. With her husband, her own father and all medical staff refusing to believe Sasha, she is soon labelled as mentally unstable. But Sasha is convinced that this is medical mistake. As a pathologist Sasha has seen awful mistakes made in this hospital. With the past catching up with her, the seeds of doubt ingrained in the medical professionals that surround her and without her family to back her up, Sasha must carry on no matter what. It is the fight of Sasha’s life as she works to claim her baby.
Mine is an amazing debut novel, exploring tenuous and emotionally fraught territory. Mine is a story like no other, I found it highly original. Susi Fox has concocted a tale that has definitely left a big emotional stain on my mind. I am just glad it has been well over five years since my own last pregnancy and traumatic birth, as this one does come with a trigger warning. If you have experienced a traumatic birth, premature labour, suffered from post natal depression, mental illness or have suffered from miscarriages and fertility issues this one may be a little hard to swallow. However, the approach the author of this novel, Susi Fox takes is one of great emotional insight and credibility, especially in the medical based scenes.
The prologue of Mine is very powerful. So powerful that it sucked me into a kind of vortex and I stayed in this emotional wind tunnel for the entire length of this novel. Although previous reviewers have commented on the pace of this book being quite slow for its length, I found it to be steady and all consuming. It revs up a notch in the first and final sections in the novel, but overall readers will be kept fully engaged in this novel. I liked the structural approach to Mine. It is told in relatively short present time frame (seven days) and flips back and forth to the past, providing flashbacks of Mark and Sasha’s past lives. I lapped up this drip feed style approach and it served to draw me further into the events of this novel. Alternating the perspectives of Mark and Sasha gives the reader a good insight into what makes these characters tick. It also added a sense of confusion to the tale as I was never quite sure who I could trust, who was telling the truth and what was a delusion. Fox has pure skill in this area of her storytelling abilities, working to tantalise, twist and warp her reader’s perceptions on many occasions.
As I mentioned in my introduction, Susi Fox is a medical practitioner and as the bulk of this book is set in a hospital and even the lead, Sasha is a medical professional herself, it adds plenty of weight to this involving tale. Fox presents the reader with an extremely well informed narrative, where she explores a range of issues related to mental health, pregnancy, birth and care of new mothers and their infants. It is balanced with the correct level of insight, psychological attention and emotion.
Where Susi Fox shines in this novel is in her characterisation. I soon developed a strong connection to Sasha, I could sympathise with her unexpected birth and the awful situation she finds herself in. This really is every new mother’s worst nightmare. I found myself swapping and changing between casting Sasha as an unreliable narrator, a mentally unstable woman and a victim of a terrible mistake that needed to be rectified, sooner rather than later. With Mark, Sasha’s husband, I found myself lacking a sense of empathy for him and I found I could not place any trust in this man. I liked the exploration of Mark’s character, particularly the focus on family memories, which was carefully inserted into this novel. It does allow the reader to view Mark in a slightly different light. There are a great cast of additional characters that add much substance to this often overwhelming tale. From the medical staff, family members and fellow new mothers, the inclusion of these players helps the novel tick over.
My overall experience with Mine was filled with intensity, doubt, shades of injustice, frustration and psychological terror. By the time I reached the close of the book, I felt like I had one hundred percent lived and breathed this frantic tale for the two days I spent with this book. My heart skipped a beat a few times and with all the fragments Susi Fox delivers about the situations and the characters, I felt like I had been through quite an ordeal. The ending, well, that hasn’t quite hit me yet and I’m not sure how I feel about it! I will leave it up to the audience to decide.
Chilling but beautifully composed, Mine takes my pick for the best psychological drama for 2018. It’s going to be hard to top this one! It would be a good one for mothers groups or book clubs to discuss. I’m very keen to see what Susi Fox has to offer in the future and I know I will be following Susi’s career very closely from now on.
Mine by Susi Fox is published on April 2nd 2018 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Mine, Susi Fox visit here.
*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Mine is book #30 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge