One father. One genetically engineered baby. Two mothers’ DNA.
In Kira Peikoff’s domestic medical thriller, Mother Knows Best (Crooked Lane), a heartbroken mother is certain that having a healthy child is more important than the unethical process taken to create one. Bioethics battles human longing in this story of medically possible versus moral.
Three years after her son died from her defective mitochondrial DNA, Claire Abrams is desperate for another child. And she knows a secret. A trail-blazer fertility specialist has developed a procedure to combine healthy DNA from two different women to form one healthy egg. Claire’s husband Ethan, a member of the President’s Bioethics Committee, would never agree to genetic engineering; he’d even written passionately about the dangers of scientifically manipulating human life. But Claire believes a healthy child is far more important. Their profound philosophical divide runs like a deep river between them. But what choice does she really have? And he can’t be outraged if he doesn’t know.
Dr. Rob Nash and his brilliant assistant Jillian Hendricks have engineered a way to implant healthy genes from one egg into the shell of another. And Claire will be the perfect human test—she’ll risk anything to have a healthy baby. Creating a genetically modified child is illegal, so there is no contract. Only the three of them will know—the sole rule is secrecy. But when the silence is broken, someone must pay the price.
When Federal agents arrest Rob and Jillian, Claire must run. But where? The entire country is searching for the pregnant woman carrying FrankenBaby, including Rob Nash. When the trial begins, Rob is a no-show. After helping Claire with the baby’s birth, he never returned to Jillian. Now Jillian is the only one who appears in court and the only one sentenced to prison. For this, she vows that someone will suffer.
Eleven years later, Michael and Lisa Burke live quietly in a small town with their healthy tween daughter, Abby. A stay-at-home mom and a carpenter dad, they lead an uneventful life. And that’s the way they like it. But when a school DNA project reveals that Abby shares DNA with a relative she knows nothing about, their world explodes.
Jillian has more than a few surprises in store for the Burke family and the daughter who will prove their medical breakthrough to the world. She craves the fame owed them; after all, no one has ever genetically intervened to prevent the transmission of a fatal disease. Jillian and Rob are science superstars, and she aims to make sure they receive the recognition they deserve.
But what Jillian doesn’t count on is the measures a mother will take to keep her family safe.
Written by a specialist in bioethics, this thought-provoking novel explores the ethical dilemma of genetic engineering: scientific possibility versus morality. How far should science go to manipulate nature, and would your opinion be different if it became personal?
Mother Knows Best is now available.
About Kira Peikoff
Kira Peikoff is a graduate of New York University with a degree in journalism. She also holds a Master of Science degree in bioethics from Columbia University. Her articles have been published in a variety of major media outlets, including The New York Times.
Since 2017, she has been the Editor-in-Chief of leapsmag, a digital publication that covers innovation and ethics in the life sciences for a mainstream audience. Peikoff lives in New Jersey with her husband, son, and the world’s cutest dog.