By Ekta R. Garg
April 5, 2018
Release date: April 10, 2018
Rated: Bypass it / 2 stars
A woman reunites with the infant daughter she gave up years earlier only to go through the pain of losing her in a murder. Worse, her husband is accused of the crime, and she must decide who to believe and who to condemn. Author Lisa Scottoline rushes through the essential points of a thriller and spends too much time on salacious details in her latest book After Anna.
It’s been years, but Maggie Ippolitti still thinks about the postpartum psychosis she experienced after giving birth to her daughter, Anna. Although Maggie never hurt Anna, she relinquished custody to her ex-husband and French national, Florian. The creator of an app that made millions, Florian sold his business in the States and returned to France with the baby. By enrolling their daughter in expensive boarding schools, he made sure Maggie had minimal contact with her.
It seems like a healthy dose of karma, then, when Maggie gets a call one day from Anna herself. Now 17 years old, Anna has come back to attend school in Maine. She wants to reconnect with Maggie, and Maggie couldn’t be more thrilled. She learns that Florian has died in an accident, and she is the only real family Anna has left.
Maggie drives from her home in Philadelphia to meet Anna, and the two seem to click from the start. Anna shares how much she hates her boarding school and asks to move in with Maggie, saying she wants and needs a mother. All of a sudden, Maggie feels like she’s getting a second chance to right the wrongs of all those years ago when her postpartum psychosis dictated her actions.
Her new husband, Dr. Noah Alderman, is instantly supportive, and 24 hours after meeting her for the first time Maggie brings Anna home. All seems to go well, but not long after Anna moves in the mood of the house becomes tense. Maggie and Noah seem to fight about everything now, and Anna is at the heart of the fights.
Anna’s accusations that Noah trying to molest her shock Maggie; she asks Noah to leave home for a while. Then Anna is murdered, and Noah is arrested for the crime and put on trial. Within days of the verdict Maggie gets news that changes everything once again, and she will have to decide who to believe and who might be lying.
Author Lisa Scottoline spends most of the book on Noah’s murder trial, building her story in sections that alternate between Noah and Maggie. The Maggie portions of the novel move forward in time from when she gets the first call from Anna to when she gets the news of Anna’s death. The Noah portions move backward from the day of his sentencing to the start of the trial. The tactic would lead readers to believe that the crux of the story, the “big reveal”, comes in the middle.
Instead, when readers reach that point, the story takes a wild turn in another direction. Because the majority of the novel focuses on the trial and the sensationalism that comes with a stepfather accused of molestation, readers will feel rushed through the “real” section of the book. Resolution comes too fast and too conveniently to satisfy anyone.
Maggie, too, comes across as an underdeveloped character. When she brings Anna home, she’s so enamored with her daughter that she ignores basic warning signs that something is not right. In fact, Maggie comes across as a timid, naïve person who can’t think for herself. Yet when the major plot twist occurs, suddenly she turns into a resourceful woman full of ideas and gumption to deal with unbelievable circumstances. This abrupt personality change is hard to believe and poorly executed.
Marketing materials would lead readers to believe this is Noah’s story, but it really belongs to Maggie. The sections about Noah during the trial are still somewhat believable and interesting, but his life after the trial takes the story in a direction that feels, again, rushed and not authentic at all. In the end readers will feel cheated out of a solid story.
I recommend readers Bypass After Anna.