Miller, I.J. “Immaculate Conception”, Island Publishing, 2019.
Maddie and Al are two moms in a committed relationship. Their story begins in the present when two women are stuck in a motel room in Weehawken, New Jersey that is surrounded by a SWAT team and a hostage negotiator. From here we go back in time to see how Maddie and Al were mistreated when they were children. Both women had terrible childhoods and as we watch, we become angry. This is of the beautiful aspects of the book—we are pulled into the story and feel some of the same emotions that the characters feel.
Moving forward here means going backwards to when Al and Maddie met two-and-a-half years earlier when they were working in the athletic department of a small college in Oregon. Beginning as friends, they come together as lovers and decide to have a baby together The way they unravel each other’s defenses and become partners is very well done. They decide to have a baby together and give their child the kind of childhood that they never had. However, there is a problem who the father is.
Coming back to the present, we have a climax that stuns us. Maddie and Al went to New Jersey hoping to find safety for their child. The biological father is manipulative and the women had to get away from him. He managed to find out where they were and they are quite literally prisoners of the state’s top hostage negotiator and his personal four-man SWAT team.
This is quite an emotional read as it moves back and forth between past and present. We understand why Al and Maddie are so desperate to keep their baby; it allows them to come to terms with the way they were treated and to try to negate that by raising this child with as much love as there is for them to give. We might say that it is a kind of apology to show that they are able to rise above the way that they were treated.
They also show us how important it is to protect our children at all costs and how much it might be necessary to fight to rise above what they have had to deal with as a result of abuse.
Here are two women struggling to be a part of society and starting their own family. We all deal with conflicts but none quite as difficult as what Al and Maddie have faced and continue to face. I am aware that I have not mentioned what the child’s father is so concerned with and I have no intention of doing so. (This is a thriller and you would not want me to ruin it by saying too much). Just sit back and put yourself in the hands (and words) of master storyteller I.J. Miller and let her prose take you on a trip you will not forget.