3 out of 4 stars
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In Unintended Consequences: A Mother’s Memoir, Kathleen Regan chronicles her journey from beginning a family to her uphill battle to find help for her son. With heartfelt honesty, she discusses the challenges of raising a blended family and details the realistic highs and lows she experiences when her son starts to spiral out of control. Regan poignantly conveys her disappointment, joy, frustration, fear, anger, sorrow, hope, and perseverance as she struggles to respond to her son's cry for help. She shares how she channels her experiences to improve a flawed system and ultimately, learns to find peace.
From the first few pages, Regan commands the reader's attention with her painful description of the moment she learns that her ex-husband has died and that her oldest son is being questioned for his murder. She recalls feeling numb with shock while notifying her other two grown children. "...I was trying to come to terms with the nightmare and my very worst fears coming true: my son having committed some terrible act which would likely result in a life-long prison term."
The strength of the book is Regan's ability to convey her heartbreaking range of emotions onto its pages. She shares the joy of adopting a sweet baby boy after multiple miscarriages. As readers follow Regan's journey, they witness her awareness of her young son struggling in school and withdrawing from the family. Despite her professional experience as a psychiatric nurse and consistent attempts to seek help for him, she agonizes over decisions regarding her son and the effects on her other two children. As a parent, I could relate to Regan's tendency to second-guess herself.
I admired Regan's positivity and willingness to help her son reunite with his birth family. She made travel arrangements, accompanied him, and respected his desire to stay in the birth family's home. Regan left no stone unturned in seeking healing for her son, but sadly, despite her best efforts, the exact consequences of her son's crime have yet to be determined. Even so, she concluded the book by focusing on the present rather than dwelling on the past.
Mark Tomas was named after his father, and Regan usually referred to her son by his first and middle name. However, there were several instances that she used only his first name in sentences preceding or following those referring to his father. It was sometimes confusing which Mark she meant, and I disliked the lack of clarity. Also, there were numerous grammatical errors, including multiple comma splices and the incorrect capitalization of words.
The editing issues necessitate the deduction of a star. Therefore, I rate the book 3 out of 4 stars. However, with additional polishing, this poignant memoir has the potential to earn the highest rating. The use of profanity is minimal; Regan provides an example of her son's abusive language and also recounts a story involving a young patient. I caution sensitive readers who dislike casual references to drug use, as Regan describes some of her experiences prior to having a family. I recommend the book to parents of adopted children, particularly those with blended families. It will also appeal to readers who are interested in improving the current mental health system and those with loved ones struggling with addiction.
Unintended Consequences:a Mother’s Memoir
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