Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten

Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Copyright: September 2010
Pages: 400
Book Source: Phenix & Phenix Publicity

Single mother Danielle Parkman is at the end of her rope and she knows it. A successful attorney, Danielle works grueling hours for her clients, yet devotes every spare moment to her teenage son, Max, who has Asperger’s – high-functioning autism. Alarmingly, Max has become violent and suicidal. Danielle is frantic. None of the professionals have helped him. Desperate for guidance, Danielle brings Max to a psychiatric hospital in the hope that the best and the brightest will bring the son she loves back to her. The bizarre twists and turns that take place in the hospital force Danielle to consider the unimaginable -- that Max’s problems may be greater than anyone could have imagined.

And then the true horror begins. Danielle finds Max lying bloody and unconscious next to the bed of a murdered patient – a boy his own age. When Max becomes the prime suspect, Danielle is determined to find the killer and absolve her son. She risks everything in a race against time to find out the truth. Is her son a murderer?

Saving Max was a real page turner, it kept me enthralled from page one and while it wasn't quite what I expected I was thrilled to have enjoyed it to the extent that I did. It's not a novel about Aspergers as such, but a suspense novel in which the protagonist has Asperger's Syndrome, a compelling combination of medical and legal detail, mystery and tension. It's obvious the author writes with honesty from a place of personal experience giving believability to both the emotions and actions of the characters.

I really identified with Danielle, being an advocate for a son with special needs, I imagined myself making many of the same decisions and feeling the same emotions. The unconditional love we have for our children can often colour our judgement but I thought Saving Max highlighted the little appreciated point that mothers often know their children better than specialists give them credit for. Character development is sometimes sacrificed to achieve heightened levels of suspense and a cracking pace but I have to say that is definitely not the case in Saving Max.

I was of two minds whether to mention the portrayal of the committal hearing process in my review; my censure may not even be valid not knowing the US court system, but I didn't find the process believable which pulled my attention from the story. Maybe the process is different from that in Australia?? Fortunately it didn't hamper my overall enjoyment.

I will definitely be reading more from this author and I look forward to her new psychological thriller; hopefully not too far away.

About the author:
Antoinette van Heugten is familiar with the challenges that come with raising autistic children. A mother and step-parent of three boys, two with autism, van Heugten has always been an advocate for her children in a world where few people understood their disorder. A former trial lawyer, she makes her home in Fredericksburg, Texas, where she lives with her husband.
Visit the author's website to find out more.

This month on The Eclectic Reader THREE lucky readers will win their choice of books. Check this blog post for details. International entrants welcome.


  1. This book sounds really good and similar to Picoult's latest (which I haven't read yet). There are so many things that we don't understand about autism. I love that more, even in fiction, is being published.

  2. I am glad that you liked this book. I will be reading it sometime soon as it will be residing on my piano pile to tbr books.

    Sometimes I hesitate as to whether or not I want to read a book that centers around a child with special needs such as Asperger, but most times, when I take the plunge I am glad for it. It seems that I will glad for it in this case.

    The committal hearing have my attention, and when reading it will be interesting as to how I perceive this part of the book.

    BTW: I have not been reading blog posts that much lately. Sorry that I have not been around much, that is going to change. :)

  3. I'm VERY intrigued by that description and your review. I will put this one on my TBR list and keep a look out for it in the bookstores.

  4. I've heard positive reviews on this one and the fact that mothers sometimes very often know better than anyone else about their children is true.

  5. I do not think it's the book for me, but I enjoyed your review :)

  6. Wow this sounds like an emotionally tiring book! INteresing.

  7. This book sounds excellent. Thanks for bringing it to my attention! :)

  8. I've heard good and bad things about this book. Glad to know you liked it.

  9. This one sounds really good. I love a great psychological thriller especially when it's done well.

  10. I finished this one a lil while ago so I admit I skipped over most of the review because I still have to write mine. But I really liked the book and I'll definitely be reading more by the author =)

  11. Thanks for this great review. I'll have to look this one up!


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