What a Mother Knows

What a Mother Knows

3.8 13
by Leslie Lehr

View All Available Formats & Editions

"A fast-paced and gripping exploration of a mother's love. A powerful affecting novel."—Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and One Breath Away

How Far Will a Mother Go to Find Her Daughter?

Michelle Mason can't remember that day, that drive, that horrible crash


"A fast-paced and gripping exploration of a mother's love. A powerful affecting novel."—Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and One Breath Away

How Far Will a Mother Go to Find Her Daughter?

Michelle Mason can't remember that day, that drive, that horrible crash that killed the young man in her car. All she knows is she's being held responsible, and her daughter is missing.

Despite a shaky marriage, a threatening lawsuit, and troubling flashbacks pressing in on her, Michelle throws herself into searching. Her daughter in the one person who might know what really happened that day, but the deeper Michelle digs, the more she questions the innocence of those closest to her, even herself. As her search hurtles toward a shattering revelation, Michelle must face the biggest challenge of her life.

A poignant story of the unshakable bond between mother and child, What a Mother Knows is about finding the truth that can set love free.

"Her characters are so real...They'll stick with you long after the book ends."—Hope Edelman, Motherless Daughters

"A poignant, powerful novel."—Jillian Medoff, bestselling author of I Couldn't Love You More and Hunger Point

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The elements of Hollywood moviemaking and tabloid hedonism blend nicely with the desperate franticness of, say, S. J. Watson's Before I Go to Sleep" - Booklist

"Poignantly written with a mystery at its center, Lehr's latest explores the lengths a mother will go for her child. ... a worthwhile read." - RT Book Reviews

""Almost impossible to put down. ... What a Mother Knows is an intense and emotional rollercoaster ride." - Long and Short Reviews" - Long and Short Reviews

"The story of the strong and unwavering bond between a mother and her child, What a Mother Knows is the perfect novel to give to mom." - SheKnows

"A strong suspenser" - The Toronto Star

Library Journal
Coming home from the hospital after a lengthy recovery from a near-fatal car crash, Michelle realizes that the biggest challenge of her life awaits her. Her physical recovery is nearly complete, although she has lost the feeling in her right arm and her memory is somewhat lacking. Despite her husband’s efforts to keep her in the dark, she soon learns that her daughter is missing. Michelle is being sued by those who hold her responsible for the crash and the resulting death of a budding rock star, but she will not rest until she has found her daughter—no matter what the cost is to her own well-being.

Verdict Lehr’s well-written second novel (after Wife Goes On) is infused with the palpable urgency of a mother who has been separated from her child. This suspenseful mother/daughter tale will attract readers who enjoy the domestic dramas of Jodi Picoult, Kristin Hannah, and Gillian Flynn.—Karen Core, Detroit P.L.
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
A woman awakes from an extended coma to find her world utterly changed. Coming home from the hospital, LA producer Michelle gradually learns some awful truths about the car accident which impaired her memory and crippled her right arm. Most alarmingly, 19-year-old Noah (her son Tyler's pitching coach) died in the crash after Michelle's SUV slid off the road into Topanga Canyon--and Michelle has no idea what he was doing in her car. Her husband, sound engineer Drew, has relocated to New York, where he's enrolled Tyler in prep school. And daughter Nikki is missing. Michelle is being sued by Noah's parents for wrongful death, and her own lawsuit against the SUV manufacturer is undermined by the fact she may have ignored a seat belt recall notice. Her family has been virtually bankrupted by her medical expenses and cannot afford to pay her attorney. Since she has zero recollection of either the accident or the events surrounding it, Michelle launches her own investigation, which she hopes will also lead her to Nikki's whereabouts. She pieces together a progressively more complex scenario: Noah was well on the way to rock stardom when he died; Michelle herself had, pro bono, produced a video for his band, Roadhouse. In fact, her former Hollywood colleagues have seemingly turned on her and are making a biopic about Noah that may prejudice the outcome of the lawsuits. A Roadhouse groupie produces a photo card containing shots showing Nikki and Noah kissing. This takes some of the onus off Michelle (whose cougardom some gossips were blaming for Noah's presence in her car). Now that Nikki could be a material witness, it is even more imperative that Michelle track her down. A postcard sent to Noah's mother from Hawaii provides the first tangible clue, which lures Michelle to Maui. Despite the intriguing premise, the disjointed and meandering narrative and phoned-in prose tamp down both suspense and forward momentum. A would-be thriller in dire need of a script doctor.

Product Details

Sourcebooks, Incorporated
Publication date:
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt


No one saw the deadly crash in the canyon on that gray October morning. The weather was strange, an out-of-season sprinkle from the coastal fog drifting inland. Soggy hitchhikers huddling under the umbrella of an ancient oak tree were the last to see the black SUV as it hydroplaned past them into the Santa Monica Mountains. A muffled bass beat trailed as it climbed the winding lane, up and around the evergreen scrub, until it disappeared in the forest crowning the coastal range. A mile farther, at the lovers' lookout above the vast checkerboard of Valley streets, tire tracks puddled with mud were the only signs of human life.

As the headlights tunneled into the mist, no one noticed how the worn wipers flailed at the thrumming rain, how they blocked the bird's-eye view of the gorge that inspired the Tongva name "Topanga," a place above. No one could testify how the engine groaned as it climbed that ear-popping stretch of sacred land. Or how the vehicle veered around the dizzying curve, spraying water over the edge of the rocky cliff.

When a coyote streaked past to scale the hillside, the bumper dipped into a flooded pothole. Bright headlights bobbed across a plywood peace sign, then lit a tall pole flying a plaster pig toward heaven. A few yards farther, the beams flashed across the ruins of a legendary roadhouse like the spotlights of decades past. Echoes of Arlo Guthrie and Neil Young lingered in the air, but it was Jim Morrison's tribute that haunted the highway beyond. "Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel...Let it roll, baby, roll."

The Explorer dove off the cliff. Airborne, the bass boomed louder and reverberated across the canyon, accompanying a chorus of screams. It crashed against a scrubby ledge, then spun through the shower of pine needles, shredded branches and shards of broken grill, hurtling down, down, down, ribs snapping against the steering wheel, head splitting on the dashboard, music still blaring until the SUV smashed against the rock wall, shearing off the side mirror, shattering the window, shooting out into the ravine where the chassis flipped. The car exploded into the creek bed, airbags popping, bones cracking, flesh tearing, as the two ton cage of steel folded like origami into the mud.

Raindrops fell.

When the sky cleared, the canyon Cub Scout troop began its weekly hike. They wandered out from the willows lining the flooded creek as the last plumes of smoke rose from the smoldering wreckage. Crows hidden in the hillside canopy flew out in a dark feathered cloud. A rabbit burrowed into his den beneath a steaming puddle of blood. Soon, sirens wailed in the distance.

By afternoon, the muddy canyon was clogged with emergency vehicles. The sky pulsed with the thwack-thwack-thwack of news helicopters circling for a story. Reporters soon pieced together the who, what, when, and where. But no one could explain the why. The only witness was trapped inside.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

What a Mother Knows 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the plot, wasn't boring and I was trying to figure it out the entire time I was reading. I highly recommend this one to those who love mystery. I must say, though, that didn't like a single character in this book, except the kids (Nikki tyler, noelle). Do not take this the wrong way character development is great, they're just not likable characters. 306 pgd.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book....realistic characters, great storyline
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is so true!!
nurse97 More than 1 year ago
enjoyed this book!! fast paced
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ToReadPerchancetoDream More than 1 year ago
The story has an interesting if not unique premise. People waking up from a long coma with memory loss is a well used plot, so an author needs to have some uncommon twists and great characters to capture the readers. Unfortunately, this book didn't have either. The main character, Michelle, wasn't very likeable, although she was pitiable. Her husband was overly annoying. Michelle's search for her daughter was kind of interesting, but things didn't make sense or totally add up to the ending. The book did show the strength and endurance of a mother's love, which is always something to praise.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Leslie is a wonderful storyteller I couldn't put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just couldn't put this book down! Right from the start I was drawn into the story. I felt empathy for the mom and her struggle to find her daughter and also to remember the auto accident details. The author portrayed the characters in a way that made you really care about some and really dislike others. I couldn't wait to find out what happened in the end. This was a selection by my book club and I'm excited for us to get together and discuss it. The members I've run into so far all said they couldn't put it down either! A great read!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
shannschoice More than 1 year ago
I have never read a book that had such an engaging story but so many characters that I disliked so much.   Michelle Mason comes home after spending eighteen months healing from a horrific car accident she was in.  She's excited to move forward with her life with her family, especially her eighteen year old daughter she hasn't seen in over a year.  But her excitement soon turns to dread when she discovers nothing is as she was told it was.   Michelle was an awe inspiring character.  She had determination and strength that got her through some pretty horrific moments.  But she also had a strong belief in her kids, despite what others (including her own husband) might think.  When she discovers that Nikki is missing, she's hell bent on finding her.  Positive that Nikki just didn't run away.  It was amazing that having spent eighteen months dealing with her own health issues that she knew there was more to Nikki's story than what others were saying.  It gave meaning to the book title, because no matter what a mother knows her own children. But Michelle's story isn't just about her finding her daughter, it's about finding herself.  She's definitely changed from before her accident.  She has to come to grips with who she is now.  Most of her friends and family try to handle her with kid gloves, when all she wants is to move on with her new normal.  She has to learn to let go of that high powered movie producer and become the person she's become.  It's not an easy transition for her, but with her family and those that have stuck by her, she makes the transition. On to those other characters.  The list of people I disliked it long and I almost feel like the author made them the way they were to show just how strong Michelle was.  But eventually I got to a point where I just wanted to scream at Michelle to run and leave all these people behind.  The husband who's upset because she doesn't "need" him any more (and let me tell you, I was seriously ready to punch this man in the face.  If he were a real person, I'd have no qualms about walking up to him and doing just that!!!).  Her lawyer and wife, who liked to remind her of just what they were giving up for her (when she never asked them to do what they were doing since she had no idea any of the legal stuff was going on).  Her good friend Becca and her old boss Victor profitting off her story, even if they claimed it was to get her story out there.  The lies some told and the half-truths the others told drove me crazy.  They blamed Michelle for things she couldn't remember and practically called her a liar when she remembered something that contradicted what they thought.  I could have done without the whole lot of them, but I have to believe the served a purpose to the story (other than irritating me to no end). This was a great read.  The journey Michelle takes to not only find out the truth about her accident but told find her daughter was emotional and suspenseful.  Leslie Lehr weaved a tale that felt like I was right next to Michelle Mason through every twist and turn this story took.  The story will stay with you, as will the strength and determination of Michelle.  Kudos to Leslie for crafting a book that evokes such strong emotional responses in a reader.