Friday, June 27, 2008

Review: More Than It Hurts You

Summary: Josh Goldin was savoring a Friday afternoon break in the coffee room, harmlessly flirting with coworkers while anticipating the weekend at home where his wife, Dori, waited with their eight-month-old son, Zack. And then Josh’s secretary rushed in, using words like intensive care, lost consciousness, blood. . . .

That morning, Dori had walked into the emergency room with her son in severe distress. Enter Dr. Darlene Stokes: an African-American physician and single mother whose life is dedicated both to her own son and navigating the tricky maze of modern-day medicine. But something about Dori stirred the doctor’s suspicions. Darlene had heard of the sensational diagnosis of Munchausen by Proxy, where a mother intentionally harms her baby, but had never come upon a case of it before. It was rarely diagnosed and extraordinarily controversial. Could it possibly have happened here?

As their four lives intersect with dramatic consequences, Darlene, Dori, and Josh are pushed to their breaking points as they confront the nightmare that has become their new reality. Darin Strauss’s extraordinary novel is set in a world turned upside down—where doctors try to save babies from their parents, police use the law to tear families apart, and the people you know the best end up surprising you the most. -- Dutton

I was just thrilled when I chosen to be part of a MotherTalk blog tour for the new novel MORE THAN IT HURTS YOU by Darin Strauss. When I read the book's description, I pretty much knew that I just had to read it; so I was very excited to receive the book a few weeks before it was published and have the opportunity to get a head start on it. It only took a few chapters for me to get completely drawn into the story, and I ended up reading the entire book in two days -- not an entirely easy feat with two kids and a book that is over 400 pages.

Probably the major reason that I enjoyed this book so much was that I found the author's writing style to be superb. I wasn't familiar with Mr. Strauss as an author; but after reading MORE THAN IT HURTS YOU, I now look forward to reading his other two books. Not only does he have to ability to tell a great story, but he also has tremendous insight into the attitudes and actions of today's society. He incorporated a great deal of social commentary into this novel concerning such issues as race, prejudice, and parents' rights -- at times, the writing was almost satirical in nature.

There were parts of this story where the writing just blew me away! I have read few books in the past year where the characters are as well-developed as the ones in this novel. I feel that I really got to know and understand the motivations of the characters -- that's not to say that I always agreed with them, just that I understood where they were coming from. These three main characters were extremely complex and I felt that Mr. Strauss did a wonderful job of making them real.

One of my favorite parts of this book was when Joshua was attending a larger-than-life conference for his job while Dori was at home with their baby Zach. The author built so much suspense switching back and forth between these two scenes (I can almost see this in a movie someday.) I just knew something awful was going to happen with Dori and the baby, but I couldn't put the book down.

Being a mother, I have to admit that I did find the subject matter of this book to be disturbing to say the least. Many years ago I read a non-fiction book about Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome so I was a little familiar with the concept that a mother could actually hurt her child just so she could get attention. Thank goodness the abuse of the child in this book wasn't as severe as some of the other documented cases, but I still found it difficult to read about a mother doing something this sick to her child.

The ending of this book was intense to say the least. Mr. Strauss did an amazing job of building suspense with the tone of the last few chapters. I couldn't read them fast enough to find out what was going to happen. I don't want to give anything away, but after I finished the book I had to re-read the last few paragraphs. I had a similar reaction to Josh when he heard his wife's comments. I can certainly say that I was left wanting more when I was done reading, and I know that these characters will remain in my thoughts for a long time. It was just one of those books that really makes you think.

As I mentioned earlier, I am so impressed with Darin Strauss and his ability to tell a story. After finishing this book, I immediately started looking for more information about him and his other books -- THE REAL MCCOY and CHANG AND ENG. If you are interested in learning more about Mr. Strauss, there are some very insightful interviews on his website, in January magazine, and on Identity In addition, I'm also very excited that I can follow the book tour for MORE THAN IT HURTS YOU -- Mr. Strauss will be blogging about it on

I highly recommend reading MORE THAN IT HURTS YOU by Darin Strauss. Not only is it a great read, but it would also make a wonderful discussion book for your next book club. There are lots of interesting issues to talk about, and I think it would be very interesting to hear other viewpoints on some of the more controversial ones.


Jill said...

This has been on my list for awhile, and I've just been waiting to get my hands on it. I'm even more excited after reading your review...thanks so much! I'll come back and post a link to my thoughts once I read it.

Cheryl said...

I have never heard of this bok but I will checkit out. Great review

S. Krishna said...

The author of Perfect on Paper is really nice - she'd probably give you a review copy if you wanted one, but I don't want to post it on here! Email me at skrishna1183 [at] yahoo [dot] com if you want to review it!

Anonymous said...

This one sounds great too. I think we have the same taste:) Tracy

Anonymous said...

I have been to MotherTalk's site a time or two. Pretty neat! :)

Daisy said...

Munchausen's by Proxy is a scary syndrome, isn't it? I'm not convinced Dori actually had the illness, but her actions...well, I'm with you. It's a good read!

Anna said...

Thanks for the review. I definitely want to check out this book.