Review by Deb Czajkowski
Nine years ago, just three years into her marriage to Elliot, Marti Trailor chose to leave her career as a social worker to be a stay-at-home mom to their newborn, Nina, and then to Simon and Poppy. The daughter of a Virginia congressman, Marti understood the demands that would be placed on her husband ─both innately and by himself─ as he strove for excellent in medical school, fellowship, and now as an obstetrician, and she gladly sacrificed her love of social work to support her husband’s schooling and career as well as their three small children.
Then, at a hospital soiree, Marti meets Win Phillips, the head of the New Moms program, a recent addition to the hospital’s OB team, and he’s eager to hire a savvy social worker to help him turn this grant experiment into a solid, successful service to new women and to the hospital. Within minutes of their meeting, Win offers Marti the job. And Marti accepts!
But Elliot is not pleased. He argues that Marti should remain at home with their children. Marti counters that all of their children will be in school. Elliot claims that two Trailors at the same hospital will be too confusing. Marti offers to use her maiden name. Seriously, Elliot, that’s the best you’ve got? Well then. Marti’s social work career is once again off and running, and Marti couldn’t be happier with her decision. Until….
Until an act of kindness puts Marti in the wrong place at the right time, and Marti sees something that will change her life forever.
Think about 9/11: The guy who overslept. The mom who changed her blouse after the baby spit up on it. The woman who stopped for a muffin ─or the one who didn’t stop. Circumstances. Wrong place, right time. Right place, wrong time. One act can alter one’s life forever.
In Erika Raskin’s Best Intentions, the author builds a compelling story, the story of a doctor’s wife, a mother of three, who loves her job of helping new mothers. Yet life happens; tragedies happen. Marti truly does have the best of intentions when she agrees, out of kindness, to an unusual ─ and one could argue unconventional─ alignment. She could certainly not have foreseen how this simple act would lead to her being arrested and now on trial for a catastrophic event that changed the lives of all involved.
Raskin cleverly starts her novel with a brief but effective peak at Marti and her attorney preparing for trial. Then she takes the reader back in time, back to the beginning: before Marti meets Win, before she joins his team, before she has the slightest clue how her daily, singular acts ─all of that plus what she witnessed on that one fateful night─ will together add up to a charge of murder. As Raskin carefully brings Marti’s story forward, she intersperses tidbits of the murder investigation, eventually bringing them together in the present, where Marti’s journey plays out to the end.
What is that end? Well, you need to start at the beginning, Marti’s beginning. A story that could be any social worker’s story, any teacher’s, any doctor’s, any person’s. Life is as fascinating as it can be bewildering. We all want a happy ending. We don’t all get one. Does Marti? One way to find out: Read Best Intentions by Erika Raskin.
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About the author:
I’ve been gathering story skeletons, punchlines, and snippets of “overheard” conversations since childhood. When I discovered writing, it was like happening upon the world’s greatest display case for my collections. I especially love crafting fiction as no matter what the characters get up to (or whatever mean thoughts flit across their minds) all I’mdoing is reporting. BEST INTENTIONS, my second novel, is coming out with St. Martin’s Press in 2017. CLOSE, my first, was called “a page-turner of significance.” I’ve done essays for print and radio and am currently working on a novel-in-stories.
I grew up in Washington, D.C., the daughter of a novelist and human rights activist. We lived in an old brick row house that was a hub of the women’s, civil rights and anti-war movements. There was an endless soundtrack of Motown, typewriter music and politics.
My husband has been my boyfriend since I was 18. We have three children, two sons-in-law, a grandboy and many siblings, nieces and nephews. When we all get together we turn touch football, gin rummy and ping-pong into blood sports.
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Best Intentions by Erika Raskin