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Mad about books: ‘For Better and Worse’ by Margo Hunt

“For Better and Worse” by Margo Hunt starts 14 years ago when Will and Nat went on their first date. They were both studying at Harvard Law, and the conversation quickly turns to how – with their combined intellect – they could murder someone. Poison, gunshot, being buried alive; no matter the method, they both believed they could never be caught.  

Fast forward to current day. Will and Nat have been married for years. They live in Florida with their son and dog where they both work as lawyers (Nat a defense attorney and Will a real estate lawyer). They are living the dream—sort of. Nat has become increasingly controlling over everything from schedules to dinner, and Will deals with this by having an affair. They aren’t as happy as they used to be, but they love their son enough to see past each other’s issues and stay together.  

Then the unthinkable happens; their son’s school principal is fired for allegations about sexual abuse, and their son admits to being one of the victims. That conversation the couple had 14 years ago is quickly becoming a reality, as each parent would do anything to protect their son. The book reads like a cat-and-mouse game, with the couple trying to stay one step ahead of law enforcement.  

I have to say I loved the character of Natalie and her chapters were what I was most drawn to. You can clearly see her motivations and how she views the world; she’s a defense lawyer who has seen up-close how broken the legal system is, and she can’t risk this man falling through the cracks. She’s a classic – but well written – mama-bear.  

Will, however, I was less inclined to like. I felt like Hunt tried to make the reader feel bad for him as their marriage was falling apart, but he came off as scummy and unnerving, especially because the author tried to rationalize an affair he was having. Both characters, however, never tried to see the other person’s point of view, and they each had valid points for their actions, and this was frustrating to read at times. I felt like so much could have been avoided if they just talked to each other, but on the other hand this aspect helped move the story along.  

I won’t spoil the ending, but I can’t tell if it was realistic or not, and it was fairly anti-climactic. Hunt also left it open-ended, so the reader gets to guess what happens to the family next. The overarching theme of the story was the recurring question of “What can be justified?” and “Can you take matters into your own hands?” The three main problems – their son’s attack, Nat’s controlling behavior and Will’s affair – all highlight these issues but let the reader figure out for themselves if any of their actions were justified.  

Although the characters aren’t always likable, I felt like this made them more fleshed out and human, and no matter how the reader feels, you end up rooting for the couple to succeed. This is for anyone who needs something reminiscent of “Law and Order,” or someone who likes a good philosophic question to ponder.  

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