cover image The Other Mother

The Other Mother

Matthew Dicks. St. Martin’s, $26.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-10346-8

Dicks (Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend) offers a wistful and quietly moving portrait of a teenage boy keeping too many secrets. Fourteen-year-old Michael wakes up one morning convinced that his mother has been replaced by an imposter. Neither of his younger siblings notice any difference, nor does Glen, the stepfather Michael disdains. Dicks hints that Michael’s perception might stem from the increasing distance he’s felt from his mother since his father’s death three years earlier—and about which both Michael and his mother are keeping secrets. Sarah, Michael’s neighbor and new love interest, is convinced Michael is suffering from Capgras syndrome, a psychological disorder that creates beliefs about imposters, while Michael suspects the doppelgänger has hidden his real mother away somewhere. Michael struggles to make sense of his place in his school, his peer group, and his family without support from the mother he once thought he could depend on. Though none of Michael’s secrets, or even the central mystery of his mother’s identity, hold much suspense, Michael’s appealingly vulnerable first-person narration and his painful missteps through the minefield of adolescent social situations will endear him to readers. Dicks’s bighearted, generous novel makes a strong case for empathy and for forgiveness—both toward others and toward oneself. (Jan.)