A renowned fertility doctor and a brilliant researcher skirt the law to attempt a groundbreaking feat of genetic engineering.
Claire and Ethan Abrams were devastated when they lost their 8-year-old son, Colton, to mitochondrial disease, and Claire’s grief took her to some very dark places. Three years after his death, Ethan convinced Claire to try in vitro fertilization, but Claire is hesitant since it was her genetics that caused Colton’s condition. Enter Dr. Robert Nash. Claire has heard rumors of a breakthrough that replaces damaged mitochondrial DNA in an embryo, resulting in a (presumably) healthy child, but testing the procedure on a human would be illegal because it would result in a baby with three genetic parents. This doesn’t stop Claire, and she sets up a meeting with Dr. Nash, who reluctantly consents to use her as his test subject, with a donation of healthy mitochondrial DNA from Jillian Hendricks, a cunning up-and-coming scientist. Claire is thrilled to get pregnant, but her joy is short lived when Ethan finds out what they’ve done and notifies the authorities, sending Claire and Nash on the run while leaving Jillian to pay the price. But that was then. Now Abigail, Claire's daughter, is in fifth grade, and Robert and Claire, who have since fallen in love, are living under assumed names, terrified that their secret will come out. After an incident on an outing with Abby, their quiet lives take an alarming turn. Claire keeps seeing a child that looks just like Colton, someone tries to break into their isolated home, and the inquisitive Abby, who has been researching her own genetic ties for a school project, is about to find how special she really is. Peikoff (Living Proof, 2012, etc.) deftly juggles past and present and multiple voices in short, punchy chapters that create a sense of urgency while exploring grief, motherhood, the bonds of family, and the complicated implications of genetic modification with a sure hand. Readers should also expect a few nifty twists along the way.
An engaging and timely thriller that offers lots of food for thought.