Sav­ing Meghan: A Novel

January 1, 2013

Can you love some­one to death? Some would say Becky Ger­ard is a devot­ed moth­er and would do any­thing for her only child. Oth­ers, includ­ing her hus­band Carl, claim she’s obsessed and can’t stop the vicious cir­cle of find­ing a cure at her daughter’s expense. 

Fif­teen-year-old Meghan has been in and out of hos­pi­tals with a plague of unex­plained ill­ness­es. But when the ail­ments take a sharp turn, clash­ing med­ical opin­ions begin to raise ques­tions about the puz­zling nature of Meghan’s ill­ness. Doc­tors sus­pect Mun­chausen syn­drome by proxy, a rare behav­ioral dis­or­der where the pri­ma­ry care­tak­er seeks med­ical help for made-up symp­toms of a child. Is this what’s going on? Or is there some­thing even more sin­is­ter at hand? 

As the Ger­ards grow more and more sus­pi­cious of each oth­er and their med­ical team, Becky must race against time to prove her daugh­ter has a dead­ly dis­ease. But first she must con­front her dark­est fears and fam­i­ly secrets that threat­en to not only upend her once-ordered life…but to destroy it.

Discussion Questions

Cour­tesy of DJ Palmer

  1. Does know­ing that Sav­ing Meghan is based (loose­ly) on a true sto­ry change your thoughts and opin­ions on any of the char­ac­ters or events in the novel?

  2. In the book, Meghan is por­trayed some­what as a vic­tim of her cir­cum­stance. How did that por­tray­al make you feel, and why might she not have been a stronger advo­cate for herself?

  3. The char­ac­ters in Sav­ing Meghan are each flawed in dif­fer­ent ways. What was your reac­tion to them while read­ing the book? Did your opin­ions change with the con­clu­sion of the sto­ry, and if so, why?

  4. In the nov­el, the doc­tor, Zach Fish­er, is accused of con­fir­ma­tion bias — see­ing a dis­ease that had tak­en the life of his son in oth­ers because it was what he wanted/​needed to see for his heal­ing process. Have you ever expe­ri­enced con­fir­ma­tion bias in your life and believed some­thing to be true when it led you to an incor­rect conclusion?

  5. Is it right for a social ser­vices orga­ni­za­tion to remove a child from home with­out con­clu­sive proof of child abuse? What else might be done to safe­guard the wel­fare of the child with­out upend­ing fam­i­lies in the process?

  6. How should doc­tors resolve con­flict­ing diag­noses and med­ical opinions?

  7. At what point does advo­cat­ing for a child suf­fer­ing from a dif­fi­cult to diag­nose dis­ease cross the line of accept­able behav­ior? What recourse does a par­ent have when they strong­ly dis­agree with a diag­no­sis or treat­ment plan?

  8. In what sit­u­a­tions should a hos­pi­tal seek emer­gency guardian­ship of a minor and was it jus­ti­fied in Meghan’s case?

  9. The num­ber of med­ical child abuse claims approach­es near­ly 1,600 annu­al­ly. What bur­den of proof should doctor’s bear when mak­ing this accu­sa­tion? What is the parent’s respon­si­bil­i­ty in prov­ing their child suf­fers from a rare or debil­i­tat­ing disease?

  10. Which char­ac­ters in Sav­ing Meghan did you find lik­able? What actions did a char­ac­ter take (or not take) that made them unlik­able for you? Do you need the main char­ac­ters of a nov­el to be lik­able to enjoy the read?