The Good Son
January 18th, 2022
The Good Son by Jacquelyn Mitchard explores grief, regret, and rage through a family and community wrecked by the murder of a teenage girl. It delves into how a family can accept the worst thing someone had done from those that they loved.
“I got the idea of the story when I was standing in line at a big writer’s conference where I was speaking several years ago. A woman standing in front of me dropped her book. I asked if she was here for the conference. She replied no and proceeded to tell me she is visiting her son in the prison nearby and stays at this hotel. Because he was so messed up on drugs, he killed his girlfriend when he was nineteen years old.”
Stefan was seventeen when he went to prison for bludgeoning his girlfriend, Belinda, to death. Three years later he was released from jail and must now navigate reintegration into society. The problem is Belinda’s mother galvanizes the community to rally against him with protests, nasty words, and throwing of fruit. Neighbors and employers want to think the worst of this young man.
“The woman I met in line also told me that she went to the cemetery to visit the girl’s grave where she saw the mother. They put their arms around each other and hugged each other. The deceased mother said, “even given what he did you are luckier because you can still touch him. Maybe there is some hope for the future.” The central question of this book is would someone experience losing their beloved or experience them doing a horrific thing and still love them. A mother is sometimes the only person left that could love them. For me, I know I would still love my child.”
The only person who seems to be his cheerleader is his mother, Thea. At first, she was just there for him, but after receiving several anonymous phone calls she decides to investigate. She is also trying to help her son navigate his emotions through guilt and PTSD.
This story shows what it is like for a mother to have a son commit murder but still wants to nurture and love him. It also shows how many in the community are not willing to give Stefan a second chance and allow him to rehabilitate to become a productive member of society.