Book Review: A Mother’s Trial

By Nancy Wright

Downloaded free on  4/7/13

Finish time: 6 nights.  I debated over downloading this book for awhile.  The subject matter is tough and I will admit the first few nights, I lost a lot of sleep over it.  Once you get past the “fact-finding” it was easier to sleep, but still a very tough subject for all, especially mothers of young kids.

I’m not sure what it was that led me to this book, after a week off from reading.  I guess I thought I would dive into something of a different subject matter than I am used to (as I’m making some other changes in my life too!)  I do enjoy a book filled with suspense,  and this had plenty, but something about it being a true story never sat well with me.  The book goes through the life of Priscilla and Steve Phillips and the journey  of  their two adopted Korean baby girls.  Their first, Tia, was in and out of the hospital and eventually died, the doctors and hospitals never coming to a firm conclusion of COD.  Shortly after (9 months) they adopted Mindy who subsequently started exhibiting similar symptoms and was too, in and out of the hospital.  After awhile, suspicions rose and Mindy was removed from the Phillips, and Priscilla was charged with the death of Tia and endangerment of Mindy.

The book is INCREDIBLY detailed.  I had read that in other reviews and concur.  It’s not a bad thing, just makes for a long book.  And I think what is still not sitting well with me is that you, the reader, must come to your own conclusion.  The book is detailed of facts, conversations, and others opinions.  There is plenty of courtroom testimony, facts presented, speculation, and the final verdict and sentencing, yet what really happened is for you to decide.  I’m an accountant, I like firm answers and black and white, so I turned to Google for some additional research and came up empty.  Because of my background and experts not being able to come up with any explanation for the girls constant illnesses, in my heart I believe she is guilty, but still found myself wavering at different points of the book.  The book really does a great job of presenting all sides and I did not find leaning one way or the other.

I did find out that the original book was written in 1984, this was just a re-release.  At that time the syndrome that many diagnosed Priscilla with (but was never actually given the label of)  – Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy – was very new and not much research was published.  As I just learned – Munchausen causes a person, in this case the mother, to make her children ill in order to receive attention of others.  I would have loved to hear a more recent evaluation by a mental health expert as I’m sure there has been many more cases (sadly) and research over the last 20 years.  And maybe another update on the family would have been nice, as the book just ended at the present time (1984).

Well written, tough subject matter, so if you can handle it, it is very interesting and sparks thoughts and conversations you never may have had.

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