Joshilyn Jackson | Mother May I

mother may i joshilyn jackson

The Book: 

Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson, 2021

The Characters: 

Bree and her husband Trey
Trey’s business partner Spencer
Bree’s childhood friend Mitchell

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Plot (from Goodreads):

Growing up poor in rural Georgia, Bree Cabbat was warned by her single mother that the world was a dark and scary place. Bree rejected her mother’s fearful outlook, and life has proved her right. Having married into a family with wealth, power, and connections, Bree now has all a woman could ever dream of: a loving lawyer husband, two talented teenage daughters, a new baby boy, a gorgeous home, and every opportunity in the world.

Until the day she awakens and sees a witch peering into her bedroom window—an old gray-haired woman dressed all in black who vanishes as quickly as she appears. It must be a play of the early morning light or the remnant of a waking dream, Bree tells herself, shaking off the bad feeling that overcomes her.

Later that day though, she spies the old woman again, in the parking lot of her daughters’ private school . . . just minutes before Bree’s infant son, asleep in his car seat only a few feet away, vanishes. It happened so quickly—Bree looked away only for a second. There is a note left in his place, warning her that she is being watched; if she wants her baby back, she must not call the police or deviate in any way from the instructions that will follow.

The mysterious woman makes contact, and Bree learns she, too, is a mother. Why would another mother do this? What does she want? And why has she targeted Bree? Of course Bree will pay anything, do anything. It’s her child.

To get her baby back, Bree must complete one small—but critical—task. It seems harmless enough, but her action comes with a devastating price, making her complicit in a tangled web of tragedy and shocking secrets that could destroy everything she loves. It is the beginning of an odyssey that will lead Bree to dangerous places, explosive confrontations, and chilling truths.

Click here for book spoilers for Mother May I
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read Mother May I, I suggest you turn back now.

The mother instructs Bree to give Spencer roofies at a party, but when she does the pills kill him. Bree brings Mitchell and Gabrielle home with her to help her figure out a plan. When the mother calls again, she says enough to give them some leads. She gives Bree a choice: if she gives Trey up to the mother by the next morning, the mother will tell her where the baby is. The mother says that her daughter is watching Bree and will know if she breaks the rules. The mother also mentions kidnapping and killing another little boy, Geoff. 

They are able to find Geoff’s family, and Bree and Mitchell go to question them. They learn from Geoff’s father that he, Trey, and Spencer assaulted a girl called Lexie Pine in college. Mitchell does some research and deduces that Lexie is the daughter. The mother is Coral Lee Pine. 

Trey comes home, and Bree questions him and gets the full story of Lexie’s assault. Mitchell and Gabrielle investigate other leads and find out where Coral Lee is keeping the baby. 

Bree goes to meet Coral Lee. Mitchell saves the baby while Bree distracts Coral Lee. Coral Lee drinks poisoned tea and dies. Trey never gets traded. They all go home and tell the police almost everything. 

The Twist:

Coral Lee kept telling Bree that her daughter was keeping tabs on Bree and would know if she screwed up the instructions. This was all a bluff–Lexie had OD’d months ago before Geoff’s death. Lexie’s death was what precipitated Coral Lee’s revenge plot. 

The Ending:

Trey has lost Bree’s trust now that she knows about him raping Lexie. They are working on repairing their marriage. They go out to dinner one night, and Geoff’s mother shows up and shoots Trey. 

Bree marries Mitchell and blends their families. 

I loved this book all the way up until the ending. Trey’s murder didn’t sit right with me, and neither did Bree and Mitchell ending up together (at least, so quickly after Trey’s death).

The Review: 

The beginning of Mother May I reminded me of The Chain, which I had just finished a few days prior. The two books weren’t too similar beyond the kidnapping aspect, but it was a nice segue!

This book was quite the page-turner. It flew by, and there weren’t really any boring or slow parts. It was paced much faster than Never Have I Ever, which was more of a slow burn. The best part is that it starts off terrifyingly realistically–the way the baby was stolen could be straight out of a news report. This story will make you want to double check that your doors are locked and that your kids are safely in their beds (…I assume. I don’t have kids.)

The characters were very well written and well developed. Bree grew up poor but was able to fake it until she made it, and now is living the perfect life. She was no damsel in distress, though–when her child was taken, she did everything she needed to in order to get him back. Her ability to stay cool and collected in the face of tragedy made her a compelling main character. Mitchell was my favorite character, and I was torn between rooting for him to get the girl and wanting Bree to be able to repair her marriage. 

My only complaint is with the way the book ended, but I won’t spoil it here. If you’ve read Mother May I, click the spoiler link above for my thoughts. 

Overall, Mother May I was an intriguing, fast-paced thriller that grabbed my attention early on and held it all the way through the end. 

As an aside, I love how well the cover compliments Never Have I Ever. I’m going to have to purchase that one to display them side by side!

Mother May I will be available on April 6, 2021. Many thanks to Library Thing and William Morrow for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Read this if you liked: 

mother may i joshilyn jackson

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