Breaking Point – Edel Coffrey

One mistake could cost her everything.

Susannah has two beautiful daughters, a high-flying medical career, a successful husband and an enviable life. Her hair is glossy, her clothes are expensive; she truly has it all.

But when – on the hottest day of the year – her strict morning routine is disrupted, Susannah finds herself running on autopilot. It is hours before she realises she has made a devastating mistake. Her baby, Louise, is still in the backseat of the car and it is too late to save her.

As the press close in around her, Susannah is put on trial for negligence. It is plain to see that this is not a trial, it’s a witch hunt. But what will the court say?

Book Information: Print Length: 284 pages. Publisher: Sphere. Publication Date: 20 Jan 2022

Edel Coffey is an Irish journalist and broadcaster. She began work as an arts journalist and editor with the Sunday Tribune. She has since worked as a presenter and reporter with RTE radio, and as editor of the Irish Independent Weekend Magazine, and Books Editor of the Irish Independent. She lives in Galway with her husband and children. Breaking Point is her first novel.

My Review:

Warning – this book has trigger points and is not an easy read due to the subject matter.

This is the second book I’ve read in the past six months about a tragic event surrounding a child being left unattended in the back of a car during a heatwave and despite the horrific themes, Edel Coffrey has written a sensitive and emotional debut novel told from the point of view of the mother and a female journalist who is covering this story.

Breaking Point is the devastating story of Dr Sue, a high profile paediatric doctor at the top of her career with a huge media following, several best-selling books and on the face of it, a perfect life, marriage and career – a women who actually “has it all”, but one morning all that changes when she forgets that her 6 month old baby girl is asleep in the back of her car and leaves her in the car park to go to work.

This story is based in the USA, where there is no official maternity leave, healthcare is expensive and new parents are forced to go back to work as soon as possible. Professional women are expected back within days of giving birth and taking any additional time to bond with their babies is frowned upon and could potentially affect their careers. Dr Sue, having had both her children in her early 40’s and being the head of Paediatrics in a busy hospital, is trying to juggle her responsibilities to the sick children she treats and be a mother to her much loved daughters.

That one moment which has the worst possible outcome changes everything for her and puts her firmly in the public eye as enemy #1. This seemingly perfectly presented public figure who advises parents on how to keep their children safe and healthy may have deliberately killed her own baby daughter.

Whilst the reader watches Dr Sue’s fall from grace, sees her grief and guilt in full raw detail there is another powerful narrator watching this from the other side.

Adelaide is the female TV News Journalist sent to cover this “major” news event from the discovery of baby Louise in the hot car to the courtcase and the final jury verdict. Adelaide, however, has a traumatic past of her own, one she has spent years running from and this story has brought every single emotion back, forcing her to confront every mothers worst nightmare.

It feels strange to say that I “enjoyed” this book because of the subject matter, but I felt that the author brought each character to life and enabled them to tell their own stories in a brutal and raw way full of emotion.

There were moments in the courtcase when as a mother myself I felt myself nodding along with the jury, especially when the experts talked about “Forgotten Baby Syndrome”. I have in the past left my mobile phone or coffee on the roof of my car and driven off or forgotten to secure the baby seat in the car, so when you google FBS and see that during 2018 and 2019 a record number of 53 children died after being left in a hot vehicle this story is frightening realistic.

I would definitely recommend this powerful and totally plausible story.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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