“Infant Secrets”

Review by Joey Madia

There are few things as sacrosanct as a mother’s rights when it comes to childbirth and issues of custody. The maternal instinct—although it is hard for fathers to acknowledge (I am one, three times over)—is nothing less than a force of nature only mothers can truly understand. The “momma grizzly” label for a fiercely protective mother expresses something very real and nothing less than vital for the evolution of humankind in times of great stress and trial.

This intense energy is the driving force of Carly Rheilan’s well-written, compelling novel, Birthrights. The motherly instinct is not reserved here for biological mother–child relationships only—the true strength of this dark page-turner is the expansion of the maternal instinct to protecting one’s siblings and the health practitioner–patient relationship.

In the dedication, Rheilan writes, “For Joan Davis, who encouraged me to write what I knew.” This is the advice given to all writers at some point in their development. Although we all write about things we do not know about, or simply make up—we are fiction writers, after all—there is great authenticity here. Rheilan’s experience as a psychiatric nurse working for the National Health Service in England, research into criminal justice, and teaching background serve her well in giving this novel—and her others—a chilling realism. Continue reading