TGMoM review by Cassidy Adams

The Good Mother of Marseille is a vibrant and dark novel that touches on social issues of neglected crime, domestic abuse, and secrets within a foreign country, all while facing issues that hit more personally, such as disease, heartbreak, and trying to survive. As the story unfolds, the characters come to life. The character array varies: two American students trying to understand their life choices, a homeless girl making decisions on the whim, a man with a disease trying to see the last of things while losing his eyesight, his wife, a lone man stuck in the past and facing cancer, and finally a writer trying to understand the complexity of Marseille. There is not an outrageous story line for the audience to follow, but rather moments in time with characters in the city: “Hard seemed to be the way for everyone she knew in Marseille. Hard was simply the way of Marseille, in every way, big and small. But it was worth it…She had made Marseille her place now.” Shade is able to capture the humanistic quality of each one of his characters by exposing their vulnerabilities to the audience. Through this, the audience grows to care about the characters: “He was glad to know this in advance, to know that a monster of illness was about to pounce on him. Illness was a monster that out of nowhere jumped on you with its claws out.” Each one of these characters have come to Marseille as a way to escape, whether that be the doom of an impending disease or a secret place for them to piece their lives back together though it is really falling apart. The structure works well to highlight the story because it spends moments with each of the five main characters and what they are facing, along with the different people they encounter. While we may not know those names or how these minor details will fit into the story, they always come back, giving the audience this sense of comfort, knowing what is going on. There is an instance in the story where two men are talking about seemingly different situations that sit heavily on their minds—all while the reader observes the heartbreaking moment, knowing that they are talking about the same person without ever realizing it…”

Prism Review, Spring 2019