Mother May I
By: Joshilyn Jackson
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 04/06/2021
My Rating: 5 Stars
"A master of domestic suspense." —Entertainment Weekly
The New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Never Have I Ever builds on her success with this addictive novel of domestic suspense in which a mother must decide how far she is willing to go to protect her child and the life she loves—a chilling and thoughtful tale of power, privilege, lies, revenge, and the choices we make, ones that transform our lives in unforeseen ways.
Revenge doesn’t wait for permission.
Growing up poor in rural Georgia, Bree Cabbat was warned by her single mother that the world was a dark and scary place. Bree rejected her mother’s fearful outlook, and life has proved her right. Having married into a family with wealth, power, and connections, Bree now has all a woman could ever dream of: a loving lawyer husband, two talented teenage daughters, a new baby boy, a gorgeous home, and every opportunity in the world.
Until the day she awakens and sees a witch peering into her bedroom window—an old gray-haired woman dressed all in black who vanishes as quickly as she appears. It must be a play of the early morning light or the remnant of a waking dream, Bree tells herself, shaking off the bad feeling that overcomes her.
Later that day though, she spies the old woman again, in the parking lot of her daughters’ private school . . . just minutes before Bree’s infant son, asleep in his car seat only a few feet away, vanishes. It happened so quickly—Bree looked away only for a second. There is a note left in his place, warning her that she is being is being watched; if she wants her baby back, she must not call the police or deviate in any way from the instructions that will follow.
The mysterious woman makes contact, and Bree learns she, too, is a mother. Why would another mother do this? What does she want? And why has she targeted Bree? Of course Bree will pay anything, do anything. It’s her child.
To get her baby back, Bree must complete one small—but critical—task. It seems harmless enough, but her action comes with a devastating price, making her complicit in a tangled web of tragedy and shocking secrets that could destroy everything she loves. It is the beginning of an odyssey that will lead Bree to dangerous places, explosive confrontations, and chilling truths.
Bree will do whatever it takes to protect her family—but what if the cost tears their world apart?
"Fan favorite Joshilyn Jackson is back with the suspenseful (seriously!) story of Bree, who grew up poor but defiantly hopeful. After marrying into money, Bree now has everything she could've dreamed of. Until the day she sees an old, gray-haired woman—a witch?—haunting her. Then her baby boy vanishes in the blink of an eye, leading Bree down a tangled path with devastating consequences. After all, what wouldn't a mother do for her child?"
-- Country Living on Mother May I
“Suspense readers will enjoy plot twists and motivations that hit close to home . . . The novel’s depth lies in exploring the role of a mother to protect and teach her children . . . Fans of Mary Kubica . . . will appreciate the mixture of suspense with complex characters.”
-- Booklist on Mother May I
"Joshilyn Jackson does it again with this explosive, white-knuckle read about a mother who will stop at nothing to protect her family. Terrifying, timely and thought-provoking, I couldn't tear my eyes away from Mother May I." — Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of The Other Mrs.
"Chilling, thought-provoking, and hauntingly written, Mother May I kept me on the edge of my seat with its breathless race against time. Joshilyn Jackson’s latest riveting thriller starts with a bang and doesn’t let up, asking how well you truly know the people around you—and how far you’re willing to go for the ones you love. A true page-turner that will stick with me for a long time."
-- Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl from Widow Hills, on Mother May I
“All the things we love about Joshilyn Jackson come together with panache in Mother May I: subtle yet scalding insights on the nature of privilege, compelling, vibrant characters, and the wily plot and breakneck pace of a thriller. Mother May I sets a new standard for the genre: it’s razor-sharp, merciless, and masterful.”
-- Rose Carlyle, #1 internationally bestselling author of The Girl in the Mirror, on Mother May I
"If Joshilyn Jackson has not yet been deemed the Queen of the Twist, I would like to award her that title. I picked up Mother May I before bed, wholly unprepared for how immediately drawn in I would be. I stayed up way too late and then did not put it down the entire next day. Rarely do I say something is “unputdownable,” but I have no reservations about saying so in this case. Such a fantastic psychological mystery — I was enthralled until the very end!”
-- Shane Mullen of Left Bank Books for Buzzfeed News, on Mother May I
"The tension is skillfully built . . . a thriller with a sharp #MeToo edge." — Kirkus Reviews
"An addictive domestic suspense, Jackson’s latest asks how far a mother will go to protect her child."
-- Parade on Mother May I
"The New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Never Have I Ever builds on her success with this addictive novel of domestic suspense in which a mother must decide how far she is willing to go to protect her child and the life she loves—a chilling and thoughtful tale of power, privilege, lies, revenge, and the choices we make, ones that transform our lives in unforeseen ways."
-- The Nerd Daily on Mother May I
"Gripping . . . The dark secret at the novel's heart rings all too true. Jackson knows how to ratchet up the suspense." — Publishers Weekly
"Psychologically rich. Compulsive, fast-paced, character-driven!"
I was literally consumed with this book! Could not put it down. It is heart-pounding and intense. MOTHER MAY I is like nothing you will ever read and hands-down this is Joshilyn Jackson's best book yet!😍 Move this to the top of your 2021 list! I think I had dreams about the witch!
Razor-sharp with that creepy vibe, talented storyteller, Joshilyn Jackson takes us into the life of Bree Cabbat. She grew up poor in rural Georgia but now she is married to a successful attorney, Trey with two teenage daughters and a new baby boy.
Living in Decatur (Atlanta), she has it all. (She was the second wife). She was not born from money and from the wrong side of the tracks. But the grandparents loved the children.
At the opening of the book, Brett keeps seeing a witch with a pointy witch hat. She thinks first she is being ridiculous and maybe it is postpartum nightmares. After all, she had been raised on Grimms' fairy tales by a mother who saw the world as carnivorous.
So she pushed the thoughts away, until. . .Robert, her precious baby boy was taken by the witch.
How could this be happening?
Then she sees a single sheet of white paper folded in half with a handwritten note: "If you want to see your baby again. GO HOME. Tell no one. Do not call the police. Do not call your husband. Be at your house by 5:`5 pm. Or he's gone for good."
She thinks the woman wants money, but when she arrives home, there is a prescription bottle and the old woman tells her what she must do if she wants her son back. She lays out the rules. How will she pull this off?
The old woman was a mother herself and says she cares about her daughter? So why does she want to take her son?
She must go to a cocktail party at the Botanical Gardens that night. She must follow the instructions. The woman says she has to set things right for her daughter. What does this have to do with Spencer and why does she need to drug him.?
She does not tell anyone and follows the instructions, however, something horrible happens. She pleads with the old woman that she grew up poor in the South and uses her stories about Goodwill and being poor to relate and create a bond with her. (after all, she loves the theatre) She can convince this woman she understands. She must get her son back.
However, things do not go as planned. Now the stakes are higher. There are more people involved. She is a puppet and this old witch is calling the shots.
Later as the danger gets near, Bree soon realizes how she met Trey (trying to be something she was not). Did she really know Trey? What was he capable of before he met her. The sins of the father's past now come back to haunt this family. Who is Lexie Pine and what does she has to do with this old woman?
Now there is another family involved with devastating results. The plot thickens. Will they be able to figure out the clues before it is too late.
Who will Bree turn to for help? As the tension builds, the old woman wants a meeting at an old abandoned amusement park in the north Georgia mountains in Dahlonega called FUNTIME. There is a carousel. She sets the ground rules and it is showtime. How will the showdown end?
Someone wants revenge and some people must pay. What will she do to get her son back?
This is one INTENSE psychological thriller, and my heart did not stop pounding for hours after I finished this book. Masterfully crafted, vivid descriptions, there are more turns than you can imagine.
A tour de force!
Fans of Jennifer Hillier's Wonderland and Little Secrets will enjoy this one. If you could not get enough of MOTHER MAY I, I highly recommend Jennifer Weiner's upcoming May 2021 book THAT SUMMER. (you will see the #Metoo connection). These two books are tops!
Gripping from the first page to the explosive ending, Joshilyn has turned to the dark side for sure. Thriller fans you are going to devour this one! A perfect cover.
On a side note:
I formerly lived in Midtown/Buckhead and had a home in the North Georgia mountains and could envision this story unfolding. I spend a lot of time in Dahlonega, GA where the guy I dated resided. Always fun to read a book set in familiar spots.
This is movie-worthy and would love to see this on the wide-screen. Explosive.
PS I loved Marshall!
A special thank you to William Morrow and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy.
About the Author
photo credit: Wes Browning
New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson’s newest book, Never Have I Ever, is available now wherever books are sold. You can check out her previous eight novels and other work here. Joshilyn’s books have been translated into a dozen languages, have won SIBA’s Novel of the Year award, have three times been #1 Book Sense Pick, have twice won Georgia Author of the Year awards, have three times been shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction, and have been a finalist for the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction.
A former actor, Jackson reads the audio versions of both her own novels and the books of other writers; her work in this field has been nominated for the Audie Award, was selected by AudioFile Magazine for their best of the year list, won three Earphones awards, made the 2012 Audible All-Star list for highest listener ranks/reviews, and garnered three Listen Up awards from Publisher’s Weekly.
She serves on the board of Reforming Arts, a nonprofit that runs education-in-prison and reentry programs. Reforming Arts fosters the development of critical and creative thinking skills, encouraging students to build livable lives both during and post-incarceration. Through this organization, Joshilyn has taught creative writing, composition, and literature inside Georgia’s maximum security facility for women.
Joshilyn learned to scuba-dive in order to write Never Have I Ever, and now she and her husband Scott are both avid divers. They live in Decatur, Georgia with their two kids, two entitled cats, and a modestly-sized dog. Website