Saving Meghan

Author: D.J. Palmer

Published By: St. Martin's Press

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


               I recently received the opportunity to review a medical thriller, something different than what I usually read.  Sure, I’m into reading thrillers, but this one caught my interest and had a basis in the medical world, something I would rarely select.  So, to expand my reading interests, I decided to check out Saving Meghan by D.J. Palmer.

               Becky Gerard had a difficult upbringing.  Despite that, she managed to become a successful real estate agent and married a construction guru in Carl Gerard.  The loss of their son to SIDS devastated them enough to start over, moving from California to the East Coast to get away from the painful memories.  And everything was working out well.  They had a daughter and, though Becky worried incessantly, Meghan was a well-rounded child, athletic, intelligent and otherwise very healthy…until she wasn’t.

               By the age of fifteen, the once healthy, athletic and happy teenager had become a shadow of herself.  Lacking in energy, reflexes slowed, unable to concentrate for long periods of time, Meghan has been in and out of hospitals with no explanation as to what is happening to them until they meet Dr. Zachary Taylor.  Dr. Taylor diagnoses something called mitochondrial disease, a rare illness that attacks the mitochondria in DNA.  Great, a diagnosis, right?  Even Carl, who has been at odds with his wife over all of the trips to the hospital and the extra panicky attitude toward Meghan exhibited by his wife, has to admit that it is finally good to have a name for what is happening.

               Despite the inability to confirm the disease due to Meghan’s fear of needles, Meghan begins treatment for mito.  But when she begins to fall ill and exhibits symptoms that have nothing to do with mito, a trip to a gastrointestinal doctor offers up another diagnosis: Munchausen syndrome by proxy.  Could it be that Becky Gerard is faking Meghan’s illness or causing Meghan to believe she is ill because of her own issues with the loss of her son and those brought up by the impending death of her mother?

               Though I did get a little annoyed with the constant allusion to secrets by each of the characters in the book, I have to say that I did find Saving Meghan to be an entertaining read.  D.J. Palmer’s use of the third person for Becky and Zach, the first person for Meghan and then writing outside the box for certain chapters was interesting.  One minute, we were peering inside Becky’s head, listening to her thoughts and observations, the next we were in Zach’s.  Meghan told us exactly what was on her mind most of the time, but sometimes, the reader felt as if they were watching all three characters from a camera in the room.  It was a tad unusual, but no less interesting.

               I must warn you: you are going to get very angry while reading this book.  Some will direct their anger at Becky, certain that she is creating or contributing to Meghan’s illness.  Some will be angry with Carl for his seeming lack of belief.  Some will be angry at Meghan for keeping secrets detrimental to what is occurring in this story.  And, if I’m not mistaken, all will be angry at the GI doctor for the tricky way she manages to set the ball rolling against the Gerards with her Munchausen claim.

               Being rather good at figuring out the clues in this genre, I had the mystery solved long before the end of the book, fingering the bad guy almost immediately, though I did note that some of the details of my theory were off.  That being said, there was a level of suspense and surprise to the very end (even for me – I surely didn’t expect some of the stuff that happened at the end). 

I would definitely recommend Saving Meghan for fans of the mystery/thriller genre.  The writing was captivating, the characters easily relatable, the storyline believable and the suspense was definitely attention grabbing.


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