Mad Max: Unintended Consequences

Title: Mad Max: Unintended Consequences
Author: Betsy Ashton
Publisher: Koehler
Publication Date: March 1,2013
ISBN: 9781938467400
Pages: 274
How I Got It: Direct From Author

Summary (via author webpage) 
Maxine "Mad Max" Davies is a wealthy widow living in New York City when she learns her only daughter Merry is badly injured in an automobile accident. She immediately returns to Richmond, Virginia, where she grew up, to take care of her daughter and two grandchildren. 
On the surface she is sophisticated, polished and in control of all situations. Estranged years earlier from her daughter Merry, she wants to reach out and heal the rift. She doesn't know how.
At first, she doesn't realize how badly injured her daughter is. The healing process takes weeks and results in a diagnosis of traumatic brain injury. Merry's personality changes. When it becomes clear Merry will never return to the way she was before the accident, Mad Max has few options. 
For most of her adult life, Mad Max lives by a simple mantra:  "I'm through raising children and I'm never living in the South again." Merry's long-term prognosis and the needs of her two grandchildren throw the mantra into the trash.
Mad Max alternates between anger at the situation in which she finds herself and acting silly to keep her grandchildren's spirits up. 
Her best friend tells her she may not have gotten everything right when she raised Merry, but life gives her a "doo-wop" with her grandchildren. Mad Max chooses not to blow it this time.

My review (contains spoilers) :
Max gets the phone call that every parent dreads--you're daughter's been in an accident. Rushing to her daughter Merry's side and to support her, her husband and her children, Max leaves her life in New York City behind. What she believes will be a short stay becomes extended when her daughter's recovery doesn't go as planned. Merry is eventually allowed to go home but she is "different." Max stays on to help to family, but as the days pass, Max recognizes that something is terribly wrong with her daughter. Merry is withdrawn, taking multiple medications, drinking, and becoming obsessed with plastic surgery. Behind her downward spiral is a doctor with a motive. Under his (psychologically creepy) spell, Merry changes more dramatically in behavior and physical appearance.  Mary's husband Whip hides in his work, leaving the children in Max's care until Max confronts him, pointing out that she will not be able to stay forver and that he needs to see what is really happening to his family. Finally reaching a breaking point when reviewing their destroyed finances,Whip demands a divorce, causing Merry and her doctor to act even more irrationally. 

I agreed to review this book after I read the summary and saw the cover. I was intrigued with the juxtaposition of the debutante and the gun and how these played into the story.  What I originally thought was going to be a story of an estranged mother being given a second chance and reconnecting with her daughter turned out to be a fabulously twisted novel. Betsy Ashton's ability to shock kept me from putting this book down. I gasped while I read. I gritted my teeth. I wanted to kick Whip to get his head out of his ass and I thought how guilty and torn Max must feel. Family obligation and love for her grandchildren keep her involved but who wouldn't want to just say to Whip "this is your wife, your family, your mess, you fix it"? The story read like I was watching a really good soap opera. Every turn of the story was shocking but believable, a tough task for a writer to pull off. 

If I had to pick one thing that I didn't like about the book I would choose the daughter, Em's, psychic connections. While fascinating and a great way to tie into Merry's otherwise unknown whereabouts, it felt awkward to put a "superatural" element into such a serious drama. 

***  I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ***