three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
24-Sept-Oct-2006
user_rating: 
0

A-The Abortionist’s DaughterMegan, a freshman partying it up in college, has just taken her second hit of Ecstasy when she hears the news. Her mother, a nationally known doctor at a small-town abortion clinic in Colorado and a parent with whom she has had a rocky relationship, has been found dead in the pool at home. As Hyde delves into the issues surrounding Diana’s controversial work, questions arise about the cause of death. Just as quickly, a large number of suspects emerge, including antiabortion activists—and Megan’s father.
Knopf. 304 pages. $23.95. ISBN: 0307263665

Milwaukee Jrnl Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"It’s a complicated tale of love, family, murder and, yes, abortion. … Although the murder and exactly who committed it (and why) keep the suspense in the novel wound tight and the narrative moving briskly, Hyde’s greatest achievement is in addressing the gray areas of abortion." Dorman T. Shindler

Minneapolis Star Tribune 3.5 of 5 Stars
"In the end, The Abortionist’s Daughter is inconsequential but enjoyable—like a last fling before September sets in and life gets really complicated." Emily Carter Roiphe

Rocky Mountain News 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Aside from [a few] missteps … this is a well-written and interesting, if not completely successful, story." Mary J. Elkins

USA Today 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Though Hyde does a terrific job fleshing out her characters and dissecting all their problems, they are, on the whole, self-centered and unlikable. But it is their weaknesses that make them so lifelike." Carol Memmott

Washington Post 3.5 of 5 Stars
"What works best in this novel is not the issue of abortion (duly presented and dissected from both sides) nor the revelation of the murderer but the family backstories, which reveal Hyde at her best. … The dialogue between Megan and her mother is biting, edgy, and dismayingly real." Anita Shreve

Critical Summary

Elisabeth Hyde, a former U.S. attorney, delicately handles the complex legalities of abortion as well as the physical details of the act. While most reviewers felt Hyde sets up a strong, occasionally page-turning murder story, some were put off by the number of pages on the graphic details of abortion. Most reviewers also agreed that the question of whodunit here is relatively inconsequential, especially considering the mounting doubts. What saves the story and makes it recommendable is the painfully accurate portrait of the title character’s agonizing end to adolescence.