playing nice jp delaney
Book Review / JP Delaney / Reviews with Spoilers

JP Delaney | Playing Nice

playing nice jp delaney

The Book: 

Playing Nice by JP Delaney, 2020

The Characters: 

Pete and Maggie and their son Theo
Lucy and Miles and their son David

The Plot (from Goodreads):

Pete Riley answers the door one morning and lets in a parent’s worst nightmare. On his doorstep is Miles Lambert, a stranger who breaks the devastating news that Pete’s son, Theo, isn’t actually his son–he is the Lamberts’, switched at birth by an understaffed hospital while their real son was sent home with Miles and his wife, Lucy. For Pete, his partner Maddie, and the little boy they’ve been raising for the past two years, life will never be the same again.

The two families, reeling from the shock, take comfort in shared good intentions, eagerly entwining their very different lives in the hope of becoming one unconventional modern family. But a plan to sue the hospital triggers an official investigation that unearths some disturbing questions about the night their children were switched. How much can they trust the other parents–or even each other? What secrets are hidden behind the Lamberts’ glossy front door? Stretched to the breaking point, Pete and Maddie discover they will each stop at nothing to keep their family safe.

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Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read Playing Nice, I suggest you turn back now.

Pete and Maggie win the case for Theo’s custody, but then Miles kidnaps Theo. He threatens to kill him if Pete doesn’t give him up, and says he will poison David every day until Pete decides to give him Theo. 

The Twist:

Lucy was the one that switched the tags, in a crazy attempt to save her baby from Miles. Lucy admits this to Maggie and Pete when they are able to get her alone. She tells them that Miles has a storage unit where she thinks he keeps an old car, likely the one he is using to run over people that get in his way. 

Then Pete is arrested for Miles’s arrest. They are unable to produce adequate evidence to convict him, and the case was dismissed.

Maggie had run Miles over in his own car. Pete and Maggie provided alibis for each other, and finally left no electronic evidence. 

The Ending:

Lucy remained friends with Maggie and Pete, and they raised Theo and David as close friends.

The Review: 

I really enjoyed this book. The characters drew me in from the beginning, and the short chapters made the pages turn quickly. 

I felt for Pete and Maggie throughout the whole book, from their troubles with Theo’s premature birth and through the many investigations into the switch. All their innocent mistakes made me cringe–be careful what you put online, because this book proves how easy it is for innocent actions to get twisted into something nefarious! 

I know swapped baby stories are a bit of a cliche, but I still enjoy them. I think the dilemma of the fallout is fascinating–I honestly don’t know what I would do in that situation. I’m not a parent, so maybe I’ll have a stronger opinion once I have kids. And this book brought so much more to the table–addiction, mental illness, gender roles, abuse, and adultery. There’s also some interesting discussion about nature vs. nurture, but the children don’t grow old enough to see how that plays out within the timeline of the book. 

I could easily see this book becoming a popular screen adaptation.

playing nice jp delaney
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