When a man's infant son is hospitalized, his wife is accused of harming the baby. Josh Goldin, a rising and popular young executive, tries to keep his faith in his wife when she is suspected of Munchausen's by Proxy. Josh is at work when he receives a frantic call and rushes to the hospital. His wife Dori tells him that their infant son, Zack, threw up blood, then stopped breathing and lost consciousness. Terrified, Josh appreciates that Dori, a former nurse, is able to understand the medical terminology being used and is asking all the right questions. Doctors find nothing wrong with Zack and after a period of observation the family returns home. Dori is irate because, as she tells Josh, she brought the baby into the emergency room when he first seemed unwell but was dismissed by the staff. When she returned to her car, Zack stopped breathing and she ran back to the emergency room. She seems to feel deeply wronged, and to believe the baby's health was put at further risk by uncaring doctors. Josh offers care and support. Dori urges Josh to help her get more answers from the doctors. The couple demands a conversation with the pediatrician from the hospital, Darlene Stokes.
Josh and Dori do not get satisfying answers from the doctor, nor does she apologize for any of the hospitals action. She tells them that she does not know the cause of the incident. She does mention and and ask about what seemed to be an injection site on the baby's leg that is not explained by his chart. Dori answers that it came from earlier at the hospital.
Privately Darelene suspects that Dori may have intentionally harmed her son. The doctor researches Munchausen by Proxy, a disorder in which a parent injures or sickens their own child, in order to get attention from family members and medical professionals. The more Dori insists the hospital was at fault, the more Dr. Stokes blames Dori. Josh is mainly concerned with his son's health and feels worried but also mildly frustrated that Dori seems so defensive. He believes his wife to be a very good person and a wonderful mother.
After another mysterious episode with Zack, Dr. Stokes is moved to alert social services. A social worker visits the Goldin house, asks questions and looks in every room. Josh sees that Dori is understandably nervous. Having the social worker there in their home makes Josh feel he is losing control of protecting his family. At work, Josh is increasingly distracted and anxious. The Goldins find out that the social worker has reported a suspicious finding in their home, a butterfly syringe. Dori explains it must have been left from one of her nursing jobs. The Goldins hire a lawyer to advise them. Josh feels overwhelmed and finds himself sleepless and often in tears. He defends his wife to the lawyer and approaches Dr. Stokes in a parking lot to insist Dori's innocence.
At this point in the book, a change in perspective occurs and we briefly see through Dori's eyes. Dori has indeed used the syringe to render her baby unconscious. She felt confident of her ability to bring the baby back after a few moments. Her motivation was a need for increased attention from Josh, who she feels has been too caught up in work. An emergency, she felt, would bring all of his focus back on the family. We then return to Josh's perspective.
As the couple drives to court, Josh has a brief moment of feeling that Dori seems to be posing herself so as to show her beauty to its full advantage. To Josh, her expression of vulnerability seems strategic, but he pushes this though out of his mind. The court decides to temporarily remove Zack from the Goldins' home. Josh feels devastated.
Josh visits the lawyer alone and pleads for advice and action. He is surprised when the lawyer urges him to , "Look at your wife." Josh decides he will stop by home in the middle of the day. He feels terrible about suspecting Dori of any wrongdoing , but feels that all he needs to do is to look her directly in the eye and that he will be able to see the truth.
Josh arrives home and Dori, surprised, comes downstairs to greet him. She seems to be able to tell from his face what is on his mind. Josh does not have to ask any questions before Dori answers, "I was very safe." Josh knows that she means she did cause Zack's medical incidents and tried to be careful.
Best part of story, including ending:
I loved this story because I had previously read about Munchausen's by Proxy and found it fascinating.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene is when the story's point of view suddenly switched to Dori. Up until that point, whether or not she harmed the baby seemed ambiguous and I did not expect to be given direct insight to her actions. The author's description of her mindset seemed masterful, subtle, and very real, though horrifying.
Opinion about the main character:
I liked Josh Goldin because he seemed like a lot of people I have worked with in offices. He is a good person who considerate of others, hardworking and has a simple, strong set of values. He is not particularly complicated and has a naturally sunny personality, though not to an extreme degree. A goodhearted, hardworking person often takes a while to recognize evil or deviant behavior because they believe everyone, especially those closest to them, is basically good too.