Editorial note: I received a copy of Her Daughter’s Mother in exchange for a review.
Her Daughter’s Mother by Daniela Petrova is an engaging and original page-turner. Cancel all your plans when you start this one because you won’t want to put it down!
The story follows Lana Stone, she’s newly pregnant and she becomes eager to learn more about Katya, the “anonymous” egg donor who’s making motherhood possible for her. While she’s never considered herself a stalker, Lana’s curiosity overtakes and she plans to watch her only from a distance. But when circumstances bring them face-to-face, an unexpected friendship is born. Until, a week later, Katya goes missing—and Lana might have been the last person to see her before she disappeared. As Lana digs into Katya’s past, the police grow suspicious of her motives.
We mainly follow the story from Lana and Katya’s perspectives, which adds plenty of rich developments. Both characters are different from what I expected. You sympathize quite often with Lana—her baby’s father leaves her and she feels quite alone. But Katya is a free spirit and encourages Lana to let loose a bit. I really enjoyed the dynamic between the two of them. While Lana believes Katya has no idea who she really is; Katya and her do bond over their shared Bulgarian heritage. With using a surrogate, Lana wanted her child to carry her people’s genes.
When the story is told from Katya’s perspective, it starts seven months earlier and she’s seeing a therapist. She has quite the painful past and in many ways, she’s living life on the edge—going to bars alone and then going home with strangers. Katya is trying to fulfill a void and once she meets Lana, everything takes a different turn for her.
What becomes a genuine friendship then takes a turn to the mystery: what happened to Katya?
So while there is plenty of psychological suspense and a mystery—I was so engaged with Lana’s storyline and her journey to become a mother. And then just when she should be experiencing the happiest time of her life, she’s hit with a horrible curve ball. But Lana is strong and her character arc is compelling and dynamic. While the word heartfelt is not often associated with a thriller, this one is that rare book that is suspenseful but also quite emotional at the same time. A key aspect of the novel is wanting to establish deeper connections with someone you have something in common with—anyone can relate to that.
Something that also stuck out to me was about how many of the characters’ decisions are not black or white but are shades of grey. I have no doubt that you’ll change your mind a couple times about the main characters and will be surprised by the ending.
This is a satisfying and intelligent debut novel that will stick with you after you finish it. Be sure to pick this one up! And there’s much to talk about for book clubs! Click here for my discussion questions.