Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten

I will confess that I was initially drawn to Saving Max because my son’s name is Max. I noticed the name over at NetGalley and decided it was worth a read.

Here is publisher’s synopsis:

Max Parkman—autistic and whip-smart, emotionally fragile and aggressive—is perfect in his mother’s eyes. Until he’s accused of murder.

Attorney Danielle Parkman knows her teenage son Max’s behavior has been getting worse—using drugs and lashing out. But she can’t accept the diagnosis she receives at a top-notch adolescent psychiatric facility that her son is deeply disturbed. Dangerous.

Until she finds Max, unconscious and bloodied, beside a patient who has been brutally stabbed to death.

Trapped in a world of doubt and fear, barred from contacting Max, Danielle clings to the belief that her son is innocent. But has she, too, lost touch with reality? Is her son really a killer?

With the justice system bearing down on them, Danielle steels herself to discover the truth, no matter what it is. She’ll do whatever it takes to find the killer and to save her son from being destroyed by a system that’s all too eager to convict him.

I was initially frustrated. The lead character, Max’s mom Danielle, wasn’t a very sympathetic character to me. She seemed pushy and impatient and grating in many ways. This, and the fact that I was reading it in short spurts most of the time, made the story languish.

But once you get to the bloody scene in the hospital things begin to pick up and there are a number of twists and turns that keep you guessing. And of course, Danielle is vindicated to some degree (I won’t spoil it any more than that).

In the end I found it a story where the “hook” is greater than the prose – the creative storyline better than the writing that describes it. Once the story picked up some steam it was entertaining for the most part – I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened – but it left you kind flat at the end.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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