Monday, July 5, 2010

Saving Max by Antoinette Van Heugten

Saving Max by Antoinette Van Heugten. Mira Books. October 2010. ISBN #: 9780778329633

Max Parkman is a teenager who seems to be having more than a normal teen's share of temper tantrums. In fact, Max is autistic, suffering from Asperger's syndrome. His lawyer Mom, Danielle Parkman, discovers, after a horrific scene in which he physically assaults her, that his journal clearly shows suicidal thoughts and reveals his use of drugs. Her career is on the line right now as she is being considered for a partnership in a prestigious legal firm, but that all goes down the drain for now as she receives the recommendation that Max needs more specialized psychiatric help. So off she goes with him to Maitland Psychiatric Center . The hell is only just beginning!

After having his medications changed, Max begins to physically attack another teen patient, Jonas. Very quickly, Max's diagnosis is revealed as schizoaffective disorder, a discovery that shocks Danielle to her core. A mother's instincts are never off; but before she can do anything more, a violent incident occurs that lands Max in jail and then on trial for murder, with Danielle charged as an accessory to the crime and guilty of obstructing justice. Danielle is a fighting spirit who refuses to accept this and so with the help of a few other formidable characters begins an investigation that is riveting in its relentlessness. The outcome will stun every reader, who in no way can anticipate the real killer and accomplice.

It's an outcome that makes one question the world of psychiatric diagnosis and treatment, a world where human beings are exposed as the flawed and just as mentally ill individuals as the patients they treat!

Saving Max is an amazing story that horrifies, grips and electrifies the reader, who will be rooting for Danielle through every rapidly turned page. At times it's hard to believe this is just a story as it seems so very real! But author, Antoinette van Heugten clearly knows what she's talking about and tells it oh so very, very well!

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