Is there any experience more transformative than motherhood? It changes not just a woman’s body but also her very outlook on life. Somehow, everything becomes both sweeter and more frightening. Ruth Hartland experienced the intensity of motherhood twice over with the birth of her twins, Carolyn and Tom. Her daughter is outgoing and self-assured, easily navigating school and friendships. But Tom is anxious and painfully sensitive, never quite finding his place in the world.
When Tom disappears at 17, Ruth enters a hellish limbo, with days “when missing him feels like a hole in my chest.” She throws herself into her work as a highly respected therapist, tucking away her own personal turmoil as she works with people recovering from trauma. But how well can she ignore her own pain while helping others work through theirs?
Ruth starts treating a new patient, a young man recovering from a brutal assault. He bears a striking resemblance to Tom, a professional red flag Ruth chooses to ignore. She knows she can help this traumatized boy, even though she couldn’t help Tom. As Ruth finds herself crossing professional boundaries to help the troubled young man, the relationship hurdles toward unimaginable tragedy.
Bev Thomas, herself a psychologist, paints a sympathetic portrait of a grieving mother—one with no body to bury—and the choices she makes just to survive. A Good Enough Mother is both a heartbreaking story of love and loss and a hopeful meditation on the winding path to healing.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article misnamed the author.