Review: The Second Mother by Jennifer Milchman

Title: The Second Mother by Jenny Milchman
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 454 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Opportunity: Teacher needed in one-room schoolhouse on remote island in Maine. Find the freedom in a fresh start.

Julie Weathers isn’t sure if she’s running away or starting over, but moving to a remote island off the coast of Maine feels right for someone with reasons to flee her old life. The sun-washed, sea-stormed speck of land seems welcoming, the lobster plentiful, and the community close and tightly knit. She finds friends in her nearest neighbor and Callum, a man who appears to be using the island for the same thing as she: escape.

But as Julie takes on the challenge of teaching the island’s children, she comes to suspect that she may have traded one place shrouded in trouble for another, and she begins to wonder if the greatest danger on Mercy Island is its lost location far out to sea, or the people who live there.


The Second Mother by Jenny Milchman is an atmospheric mystery.

Needing a fresh start, Julie Weathers accepts a teaching position on Mercy Island. The isolated island off the coast of Maine is home to the Hempstead family who rules the town with an iron first. Lobstering is a way of life for most of the men but tourist season adds plenty of money to the coffers.

Julie adjusts fairly quickly despite the unnerving fog. Her first night in her home is somewhat eerie but she pushes her unease aside. The next day she meets one of her students, eleven year old Peter Meyers, and his mother Martha Hempstead Meyers. Julie has concerns about the young boy that only increase the more she gets to know him. His grandmother, Maryanne, does not want to discuss her grandson so Julie turns to friend Ellie Newcomb and lobsterman Callum McCarthy for help. Julie soon comes to discover not everything is as it seems, but can she do anything to help those in need?

Julie is determined to begin a new life but she struggles to give up some of her old coping mechanisms.  She eagerly begins teaching and she begins to feel more secure and sure of herself. She has also discussed some of the most painful aspects of her past and Julie is beginning to heal.  She is still worried about Peter but she is also conflicted about him. Neither his mother nor his controlling grandmother are much help, so she asks Callum to join her in her quest for answers.

The secondary characters are interesting and fairly well developed. Ellie is friendly but she might not be the best person for Julie to spend time with under the circumstances. Callum is gruff but caring. Maryanne is harsh and unbending. Peter is a bit of a conundrum but Julie trusts her instincts. Martha is standoffish even with Peter but Julie knows the small family have been through a rough year.

The Second Mother is a mesmerizing mystery. The ever changing weather provides an ominous overtone. The storyline is intriguing but the pacing is a little uneven. Jenny Milchman brings this clever mystery to a dramatic yet satisfying conclusion. I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend this fantastic mystery to readers of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, Jenny Milchman, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Sourcebooks Landmark, Suspense, The Second Mother

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