Playing Nice #BookReview

JP Delaney | July 2020 | 369 pp.

I was a voracious reader in 2020. I completed at least 60 books and there was another 20 I couldnt finish for whatever reason. As I’ve said, gone are the days when I would struggle through a book waiting for it to get good. 🙄 Honey, START good or risk the axe. Periodt.

I guess I say all that to preface my Experience of reading Playing Nice. This was one of the weirdest books I have ever read. It starts with us meeting 2 couples and learning pretty quickly, the bombshell truth, that sometime after being born, while in the hospital, their children were switched! Miles Lambert and his wife: rich, successful couple from the ‘right’ side of town, has discovered the son they’ve cared for the last 2 years, is not theirs. Through some mix up in the emergency department, the child was switched with Pete and Maddies child. Pete and Maddie are not well to do, but average earners attempting to do the best they can with their sickly child. One day, Miles Lambert shows up and says ‘your raising my kid’. ‘Its cool but, I want in’. Uhh, say what now?

Pros: Really interesting plot and character development. We get to know the backstory for each character and it does offer some understanding as to each characters motivation. It also lends to the drama and intensity of the story. Is Pete having an affair with one of the nurses from the hospital? Whats up with Maddies psychotic meltdown? Is Miles’ wife ok? Whats up with the kids, are they ‘normal’? Was this an innocent mix or were the children maliciously switched?

Miles turns out to be a class a1 rich bully and eventually he takes advantage of a series of manipulated events to gain leverage over Pete and Maddie in a custody battle. This of course ratchets up the drama as well.

Cons: The story could have been trimmed a bit. If it was, I probably would have read in one sitting. The author writes good dialogue but there is a lot of it here. Also, we really deep-dive Maggie and her depression after a difficult birth and her failure to connect with the child she’s raising. I think, more than Pete, Maddie graples with the ethical decision of knowingly raising a child that isnt your own, while your child is across town. I also think the author uses Maddies postpartum depression as a red herring. Its a shame because you will become distracted by it and honestly, the fact she had it shouldn’t mean she is a less capable parent. Alas, mothers are judged more harsher than fathers. Anyway, the deepdive to these storylines took more pages than needed.

Also, Pete and Maddie’s wholehearted attempt at having a congenial relationship with the Lamberts, even after they’d proven to be unpredictable and intrusive, was wholly unbelievable and took more time from the main story. When someone is attempting to take your kid, you are not going to ‘play nice’.

It was very interesting reading about the issue though instead of the overused trope around Maddies depression, I would have liked more discussion around the ethics. Even the dialogue around the attorneys and government officials didn’t seem to grapple with it.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars for me. Reducing one star because it does go on a bit in spots and with all thats going in, being as stingy as possible with words would have been better. Heads up, its set in the UK so, some things around healthcare and government services are different, but I don’t think very. Im pretty sure the Dept of Children Services at any state level wouldn’t have had a clue!

Zero triggers…unless you were switched at birth. 🙄 Interesting read! Goodbook #39!

Storygraph Summary:

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.

They are done playing nice.

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