When you become a mother, your head is full of so many thoughts and dreams. They’ll be the most beautiful, intelligent, successful, well-rounded, athletic human being that ever walked this earth. You’ll have the most incredible relationship with them.. when life is hard and they have problems, they’ll know that they can always come to mom for support and good advice and when life is great, it’s you they will call first to celebrate with.
I’d love to say that all these things are true, but somewhere along the way reality sets in and you realize that you’re both human. You may not even get along – because that’s the downside to humans and personalities. But as a mother – you always love and support them. A child should always know that there is at least one person in their corner – no matter what is happening in their lives.
But what if your child was accused of committing a heinous crime? Murder even? Would you still be there for them? That’s the situation that Jennifer Lewis suddenly finds herself in with a phone call that turns her life upside down. Her daughter Emma has been studying abroad in Spain and is arrested for the murder of another student. As any mother would do, Jennifer flies to be by her daughter’s side to protect her and fight for her innocence. But as she gets deeper into the details of what happened, she starts to wonder if her daughter is actually innocent.
I had the opportunity to email with the author, Nina Darnton as she prepares for the November 25th release of her latest novel!
What drew you to the Amanda Knox case as the inspiration for your book?
From the moment I read about Amanda Knox, I couldn’t get her out of my mind. Or more precisely, I couldn’t get her mother out of my mind. As a mother myself, I was obsessed with the horror of hearing such frightening news from your daughter. I mean, imagine that you believe your daughter is doing well, is exemplary in fact, and enjoying her junior year abroad in Spain. Then you get a call in the middle of the night and your daughter is on the other end of the phone, crying and saying that someone has been killed and the police believe she did it. I kept imagining this scenario, what would happen next, what would be the worst that could happen, what would be the best, and finally I was compelled to write it. It’s not at all about Amanda Knox. But it’s fair to say it was inspired by that story.
Does society pressure mothers to be perfect, or can mothers ever just be good enough?
Society lately seems to pressure every woman to be perfect, not just mothers. We’re supposed to “lean in” and become huge professional successes at the same time that we’re supposed to stimulate and love and prepare our children to be perfect adults, perfect children, perfect students. It’s impossible. Yes, I believe that mothers not only can be “just good enough” I believe that is the best they will ever be and that’s fine. There is no perfection, not in motherhood or anything else. We do the best we can. We muddle through. With love and basic good will, most of us will see our children grow to adulthood and live productive lives. Too much effort creates anxiety for both the mother and the child and makes a happy, fulfilling life less rather than more likely.
Is there a difference between unconditional love and blind faith in your child?
Yes. The most important thing I can say about blind faith is the obvious: it’s blind. That immediately implies that there is much that is not seen. Blind faith is Jennifer’s problem, to a fault. She insists on believing the image she has formed of her daughter no matter what is presented to challenge it. Unconditional love is something else entirely. You may believe your child has done something wrong, you may even believe your child has serious problems and needs to be restrained, but you can still love that child. That’s the agony of having a child who commits a serious crime.
About the author: Nina Darnton is a former staff writer for Newsweek and a former frequent contributor for the New York Times. As a freelancer, she has written for several news outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, Travel and Leisure, More and Elle. She has also contributed on-air essays for the PBS NewsHour and covered the Polish Solidarity movement for National Public Radio. She published An African Affair in 2011, based on her five years living in Africa. This is her second novel. She’s married to celebrated New York Times reporter and bestselling novelist John Darnton. She lives in New York City.Nina Darnton lived in Africa for five years, two of them in Lagos. She has been a frequent contributor to The New York Times and NPR and a staff writer for Newsweek. She lives with her husband, the novelist John Darnton, in New York. Join Nina on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NinaDarntonBooks