• My Daughter's Mistake

  • An Utterly Gripping and Unforgettable Tear-Jerker
  • By: Kate Hewitt
  • Narrated by: Stephanie Cannon
  • Length: 10 hrs and 43 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (54 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

I look at my daughter. My darling girl. I remember her tiny hand in mine, her first smile. I recall her tears when she’d tumble over, healed instantly with a Band-Aid and a little kiss. I have to keep her safe. Even if it means someone else gets hurt....

In the pretty, privileged college town of Milford, New Hampshire, everyone is friendly, and everything is safe. And on this cold autumn day, as red and yellow leaves begin to fall from the trees, and everyone wraps up for the first time, it would be easy to believe nothing bad could ever happen here.

Until a screech of tires is heard, a thud, a child’s scream. The crash that sees Jenna’s six-year-old daughter, Amy Rose, being hit by a car driven by 17-year-old Maddie.

Maddie’s mother, Ellen, a college professor with a warm, approachable reputation, insists it must have been an accident. Her daughter is always safe on the road - and she’s vulnerable herself.

But as Amy Rose lies unconscious in hospital, the town begins to take sides. With Ellen, who just wants to defend her daughter. Or with Jenna, a single mother with a past, whose child hovers between life and death...

The truth is that both mothers have secrets they’re trying to keep. And with Amy Rose’s life hanging in the balance, one of them will stop at nothing to protect the person she loves - her daughter.

Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Jojo Moyes, and Diane Chamberlain.

©2021 Kate Hewitt (P)2021 Bookouture, an imprint of Storyfire Ltd.

What listeners say about My Daughter's Mistake

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Starts slow — but don’t give up!! Excellent.

My husband and I listened to this together. We almost stopped because Ellen was such a privileged helicopter mom. So glad we stayed with it. The story was amazing. Lots of twists and turns. The characters became so real.

The narrator was so good. We could picture each character and the emotions they were feeling.

This book would make a great book club discussion.

1 person found this helpful

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Surprising twists

She has a Jodi Picoult feel. I wanted to keep listening to find out what happens next.

1 person found this helpful

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An Open Secret

I have rarely been so infuriated by a book… and I have read every Laura Dave book out there. The writing in this was better (somewhat), but it suffered from similar flaws. I’ll address those in a moment.

My Daughter’s Secret shows us a typical New England (NH) college town through women from opposite sides of the track – Jenna (townie) and Ellen (professor). Jenna is a single mother with a rough, local background raising her six-year-old alone and working three jobs. Ellen is a successful professor originally from out of town, who married a local and has two children – 17 and 12. Their worlds collide when Ellen’s daughter’s car strikes and seriously injures Jenna’s six-year-old.

The tropes in this book are so typical. Ellen deals with the troubles of the nouveau riche (by small town standards), parenting in a way that gives her children freedom and independence to become who they want to be (because her children, entitled as they are, can be anything). Her daughter struggles with serious self-harm and anorexia as well as self-esteem issues, and from the jump it’s clear she’ll do anything to be cool and attract the coolest guy. Their son is a loner and mainly neglected by his parents’ constant preoccupation with his troubled sister. Lip service is paid to Ellen’s difficulties balancing her career and motherhood, though this isn’t much played out. What is shown is Ellen’s complete incompetence at both.

Jenna, meanwhile, deals with everything you might see if you searched ‘townie’ in the dictionary. Alcoholic, now-dead father, whingy and disabled mother, brother with addiction struggles, and constant financial woes. She is bitter and constantly angry – and she states as such about two dozen times in her first two chapters.

The men in this book – though it purports to be female-centric – are the rational, heroic figures (literally and figuratively, save one). You are left sympathetic for Jenna’s baby daddy, who comes in on a white horse and saves her in more ways than one, while she is left contemplating how she actually caused him to be deadbeat for the first six years of their child’s life. Ellen’s husband plays far less of a centric role but, when he appears, is the one who clearly understands both town structure and parenting (ironic, since his wife is the sociology professor with a family focus). Their son is much more sympathetic than their daughter, while the rest of the town mainly fills the ‘gossipy, nosy’ stereotype of small towns in every medium.

Ok. Let’s talk specific flaws… and there will be spoilers ahead.

The writing is repetitive. Not quite so bad as Dave’s, but you could condense this by about 1/3 and all you will have removed are the echoing metaphors and circuitous navel-gazing. It suffers from poor editing, in my opinion. I found myself having to repeat sections after my attention badly wandered… only to be more than frustrated as it turned out I could have skipped that ½ hour and lost nothing of the plot or character development.

The characters are IRRITATING, and make choices so DUMB they are only narrative in motive. This is a trend recently, especially with small-town books (it’s like everyone saw Manchester By the Sea and decided they would attempt to recreate this). don’t get be wrong – I enjoy books often where the characters are relatable, lovable or hateable because of their obvious flaws. But rarely have I wanted to shout at so many over quite so many pages. That’s not art – it’s infuriating. What do I mean? Well, for one, Ellen and her husband’s inexplicable failure to make their daughter tell the truth. OR – at the very least – demand to see her phone and go through it. You want your teenager to have some privacy? Fine. But your daughter just put a little girl in a coma and she’s openly lying to both you and the police about it. There is NO WORLD where my mother would not have taken my phone, grounded me until I told the truth, and overall been MUCH harsher than Maddie’s parents are with her. It’s unfathomable. Maddie herself I just want to shake – self-centred, spoilt, lying and obnoxious are her main character traits. Ellen is clearly worried about her daughter in multiple ways – and this rings true. But she fails to do anything proactive to better any aspect of the situation, from her eating disorder to her possibly criminal lies. Instead, she basically tries to talk to Maddie – gets shut down – and sighs in defeat, moving on. It will make you want to shake her. Couple this with the incredibly insensitive moments – like turning up next day in the hospital room to feel out Jenna’s position on the accident, while her daughter is in a coma; confronting and getting nasty with Jenna in the grocery, again when her daughter is in a coma; failing, at any point, to recognise (as her husband does) that Maddie is at fault for this situation, and needs to deal with that; failing to thank Sam at the end of the book… God, there are so many moments when I hate this woman. We can sympathise with her love for her daughter, and her terror at the situation, but there are SO MANY TIMES when she could step up and parent and not care that she’s the bad guy – and she doesn’t. When she finally snaps (one time, way too late) at Maddie, and the girl overreacts and runs out, Ellen blames the ‘tough love’. She’s not wrong… but it’s not because she finally acted like a parent that her child panicked – it’s that she failed to do so for seventeen years of this girl’s life.

Ultimately, what irritates me most about Ellen and Maddie’s storyline is that is so obviously contrived for the thrill of the mystery and novel. Real life – ANY mother would have demanded that phone, especially after ‘inadvertently’ seeing an incriminating text. Moreover, the cops would have dumped that data AT ONCE and, when they did, they would have known not only that she wasn’t on the phone but also all the texting she had done since. They wouldn’t have seen texts after the date of the data dump but… come on. There were texts the day of the collision for sure. Neither of these things happen (beyond a vague statement by the cops that they know she wasn’t on the phone), because the story needed this not to happen.

Jenna I have less to complain about. She’s the victim in this situation… though she’s not totally blameless either. You don’t leave your six year old unattended for ten minutes outside – you just don’t. Her anger and self-pity is understandable, but irritating. Then it turns on a dime that makes no sense narratively speaking… and the best explanation for this is that the reappearance of Harrison has righted her life. Saved by a man – despite her streak of fierce independence. But her mother sucks, her brother can’t help himself, and her lot is pitiable, despite her faults. And she SHOULD have sued.

Let’s talk for a second about legal inaccuracies, because I’m a lawyer and I can’t help myself. First – criminal proceedings. We talked about the phone above. The timeline of the investigation is also wonky. Accident reconstruction occurs at the scene – they would have known that day what the damage to the car, curb, blood spatter and brake tracks meant. The phone dump would have taken a couple of days – it wouldn’t have been the second ‘clue’. The footage – that would have been requested same day too – definitely not weeks later. This is because most stores and businesses with exterior cameras have them looped to retape every 14 to 30 days depending on the system – and they have to proactively preserve footage, which they don’t do unless they have reason to and/or have been ordered to do so. The cops would have immediately located businesses who might have helpful camera footage and preserved it – that day or the next. Traffic cameras would have been preserved with the accident reconstruction team. Also – assuming Nathan was taller than Maddie (and it’s mentioned that he’s a hunky, handsome lacrosse player while she is described as waiflike), they would have known from examination of the seat of the car that it was unlikely she was driving that day.

Second – a note on the civil proceedings. All through the first half of this book, there are multiple mentions of whether or not Jenna will sue. 1) OF COURSE she should have sued. Her daughter was struck by a car and put into a coma, and in NH (as the book does mention) it’s never the pedestrian’s fault… this is a great lawsuit (not, as is stated, a ‘maybe’ case), and Amy Rose is going to have massive medical and emotional expenses. SUE, WOMAN, SUE! 2) the ‘fear’ that she would do so is irrational and stupid. First, all people – especially professionals like Ellen and her husband – understand that a claim and/or lawsuit nearly always results from a collision with injuries. That’s why you have motor vehicle insurance. 3) also, ‘fear’ of lawsuit is stupid because there’s no exposure to the parents’ personal assets. For one thing, that nonsense that insurance will cover ‘up to ten thousand’ is NOT TRUE and it irritates me to no end that this is presented in the book as such. In New Hampshire (and most states), you are required to carry coverage at a minimum of 25/50, which means that Maddie was insured for at least $25,000 of injuries to Amy Rose caused by her negligence. Very likely it was more – as most people carry more than the minimum if they can afford it, as it provides protection against someone seeking personal assets in massive damage cases (like this one). This is a three-driver family with assets, and Maddie was likely insured for AT LEAST $250,000, if not more, and may have also had available umbrella coverage through her parents for $1 million or more. Even if her insurance coverage maxed out, while her parents could have been named in a lawsuit under the family car doctrine to implicate any insurance coverage, they can’t be liable on a personal assets level for Maddie’s negligence, and she doesn’t have assets of her own. It’s highly unlikely her parents would have been civilly exposed. 4) She gets two years to bring this suit… and I hope, especially now that Nathan is involved (and I’d bet his coverage is massive), that she did bring a claim.

Final thing – predictability. If you’re reading this for the character development… perhaps you don’t care about this bit (though you’re probably also annoyed). But the plot/mystery of this book was SUPER predictable from the jump. The second Nathan’s name was mentioned, I turned to my partner (who had overhead that portion, as I played it aloud while making dinner) and said – ‘you watch, that kid was the driver’. I suppose the final twist was meant to be a shocker – but honestly that felt shoehorned in off a subplot that was underdeveloped most of the story (Sam) and the culmination of a character arc I had little sympathy for (Maddie). Did I expect her to jump/fall off the bridge? No. But the second we learnt Sam and Jenna were on the bank, I knew he’d save her, and I knew he’d die in the effort. Why? Because this was not a well-forecast or foreshadowed twist, which was why out of the blue in his drug-haze-breakdown, we suddenly had all these deep confessions from Sam about what he wanted from life and his purpose. Girl falls from sky seconds later, and he gets his white knight moment that we are latter led (by Jenna) to think was the culmination of this whole story. It wasn’t… but she needed some exciting way to end things.

Overall, it was ok as a filler read. But I don’t recommend.

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Loved It

Excellent writing. Hated some of the characters and hope there are not people really this shallow. That comes from great writing..feeling something about the characters. Enjoyed the story and performance.

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loved

such a great transformation of inner spirit and resilience such a great easy listen.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 01-24-22

loved it kept me listening

Well written kept me listening
it good to here two side of the story

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Fionne Jones
  • 11-04-21

Gripping

Loved the way each chapter almost ended on a cliffhanger. It was gripping and I thoroughly recommend it.

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  • Carolyn
  • 01-21-22

struggled to get into this book

Struggled to get into this book although I found it very believable and sad