a medical mystery and a family fragmented

Fifteen-year-old Meghan is very ill. While previously she had been a happy kid with lots of energy and verve, a soccer player and a popular friend, she is now wasting away before everyone’s eyes. Her mother Becky is exhausted from going to doctor after doctor, waiting for yet another diagnosis, trying yet another medicine, watching while Meghan’s health slips away. Becky leans on her online support group for help. but answers never seem to come her way. She does her best to stay strong for her daughter, but it’s a constant struggle.

The doctors are perplexed. They can’t find a diagnosis that fits with all of Meghan’s symptoms. The weakness, the fainting, the nausea—the symptoms are real, but there is no disease that they can find, despite all the blood tests, the x-rays, the MRIs. For the most part, the only answer they can come up with is Munchausen syndrome by proxy. The only thing that fits is if Becky is doing something to Meghan to make her sick. Or, if Meghan thinks her mother wants her to be sick ans is inventing a disease that doesn’t exist to make her happy.

Meghan’s father is fed up with it all. He acts like he doesn’t think Meghan is as sick as Becky thinks, and he resents Becky’s online supporters for their vapid advice and fake friendship. He worries that Meghan is picking up on Becky’s unspoken need to take care of someone who’s not well (based on her relationship with her mother), and his support has run its course. He wants something different for his family.

Then one doctor finds the possibility of a real, diagnosable illness. But is it too late for Meghan and her family? Her illness has created a heavy cost for her family. Can they all recover from the struggles and misdiagnoses, from the exhaustion and emotions? Will they ever truly be a family again, or will the family collapse under the final diagnosis?

Saving Meghan is a twisty look at a family in crisis. As the story unfolds, you think you know what’s going on, but then the narrative turns on itself and reveals another possibility, another layer of truth about the situation. Author D.J. Palmer’s take on this medical mystery novel is dark and thrilling. The final resolution to the mystery left me speechless.

Galleys for Saving Meghan were provided by St. Martin’s Press with many thanks.