CATCH YOUR BREATH by Jessica Auerbach


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 Auerbach (Sleep, Baby, Sleep, 1994, etc.) turns a current tabloid and talk-show preoccupation into a slow-starting but ultimately gripping tale of a mother who, accused of child abuse, is forced to confront not only the judicial but the medical system as well. Rosie Sloan, a doctor's daughter, and her estranged husband Quinn, a policeman, never come into full focus as they trade clichÇs, emote, and gradually begin to understand what is going on. Rosie, who dropped out of her pre-med studies to marry Quinn (thus bitterly disappointing her father), learned enough medicine so that she can sometimes ask the right question. She doesn't do so here, though, until it's almost too late. When Jason, her two-year-old son, starts having asthma-like attacks, Rosie rushes him to the ER, where the attending physician suggests she consult Dr. Greg Linder, a specialist in childhood asthma. Linder is very caring, and asks Rosie to have coffee with him so that he can go over Jason's treatment in detail. Coffee is followed by lunch, and Rosie thinks she's falling in love. Meanwhile, however, Jason doesn't improve. Then there's a surprise call from a social worker, responding to a charge of child abuse. Even Quinn finds Rosie suspicious. At the hearing, she is not only accused of suffering from Munchausen's syndrome by proxy--``inducing illness in a child in order to gain attention for herself''--but the SIDS death of her first baby is brought up. Jason is put in foster care, contact with him forbidden, and Rosie must undergo psychiatric evaluation. With Quinn's help, though, she begins to fight back, does some sleuthing of her own, and, asking the right medical questions at last, saves both herself and Jason in a page-turning conclusion. Fast-paced action and finely tuned tension turn a potentially tiresome tearjerker into a meaty domestic thriller. (Literary Guild alternate selection)

Pub Date: July 2nd, 1996
ISBN: 0-399-14166-9
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1996