The best books with a Sophie’s Choice type moral dilemma

Who am I?

I grew up in the sciences. I’m a psychiatrist by training and can happily spend hours rooting out emotional responses in people and dissecting their behaviors and reactions. All stories need action, but what I find equally interesting to the plot of a novel are the characters’ responses to that action, the subtle shifts that take place in their personalities as the story progresses, and my own predictions of how the author will present those character arcs. I suppose that’s why I gravitate toward character-driven novels, and why I write them. I hope you find this list useful and enjoy these stories as much as I have. 


I wrote...

She Wouldn't Change a Thing

By Sarah Adlakha,

Book cover of She Wouldn't Change a Thing

What is my book about?

Sliding Doors meets Life After Life in Sarah Adlakha's story about a wife and mother who is given the chance to start over at the risk of losing everything she loves. A second chance is the last thing she wants.

When thirty-nine-year-old Maria Forssmann wakes up in her seventeen-year-old body, she doesn’t know how she got there. All she does know is she has to get back: to her home in Bienville, Mississippi, to her job as a successful psychiatrist, and, most importantly, to her husband, daughters, and unborn son. But she also knows that, in only a few weeks, a devastating tragedy will strike her husband, a tragedy that will lead to their meeting each other. Can she change time and still keep what it’s given her?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of My Sister's Keeper

Sarah Adlakha Why did I love this book?

Choices and the freedom to make them. Choices and the burden of making them. This is the crux of My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult which I first read in 2006 shortly after giving birth to my twin daughters. I was a blubbering, emotional mess by the time I finished it, but I immediately had to start over and reread it. 

What would I have done?  

What clues did I miss on the journey?

I wasn’t an author when I read My Sister’s Keeper, but I decided in that moment that if I was ever to write a book, I would emulate Jodi Picoult; I would force the reader to question everything, even their own moral tenets.

By Jodi Picoult,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked My Sister's Keeper as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sara and Brian Fitzgerald's life with their young son and their two-year-old daughter, Kate, is forever altered when they learn that Kate has leukemia. The parents' only hope is to conceive another child, specifically intended to save Kate's life. For some, such genetic engineering would raise both moral and ethical questions; for the Fitzgeralds, Sara in particular, there is no choice but to do whatever it takes to keep Kate alive. And what it takes is Anna. Kate (Sofia Vassilieva) and Anna (Abigail Breslin) share a bond closer than most sisters: though Kate is older, she relies on her little…


Book cover of The Light Between Oceans

Sarah Adlakha Why did I love this book?

Secrets. Secrets. Secrets. 

How long can you live with your secrets? And how well? As a psychiatrist, I can’t get enough of the internal angst we glean from books that just don’t translate well into movies. 

What makes a decision right or wrong? Is it the consequences of that decision? Is it the intent behind the decision? 

While the secrets the protagonists harbor in The Light Between Oceans and my books are different, the emotional turmoil is eerily similar.

By M.L. Stedman,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Light Between Oceans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The years-long New York Times bestseller and Goodreads Best Historical Novel that is “irresistible…seductive…with a high concept plot that keeps you riveted from the first page” (O, The Oprah Magazine)—soon to be a major motion picture from Spielberg’s Dreamworks starring Michael Fassbender, Rachel Weisz, and Alicia Vikander, and directed by Derek Cianfrance.

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young,…


Book cover of The Time Traveler's Wife

Sarah Adlakha Why did I love this book?

Traveling back in time would be fun, right? What could possibly go wrong?

If this is your stance on time travel, then you probably haven’t read The Time Traveler’s Wife. I didn’t read this book until after I wrote my own book, but I appreciated the authenticity of the characters’ emotions and echoed Audrey’s notions on the complexities of time travel. Going back in time would more than likely be a terrifying endeavor. It’s fun to imagine the Freaky Friday and Thirteen Going on Thirty scenarios, but if you’re looking for more “realistic” time travel vibes, you might consider The Time Traveler’s Wife.

By Audrey Niffenegger,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked The Time Traveler's Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a series on HBO starring Rose Leslie and Theo James!

The iconic time travel love story and mega-bestselling first novel from Audrey Niffenegger is "a soaring celebration of the victory of love over time" (Chicago Tribune).

Henry DeTamble is a dashing, adventurous librarian who is at the mercy of his random time time-traveling abilities. Clare Abshire is an artist whose life moves through a natural sequential course. This is the celebrated and timeless tale of their love. Henry and Clare's passionate affair is built and endures across a sea of time and captures them in an impossibly romantic trap…


Book cover of The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Sarah Adlakha Why did I love this book?

I love puzzles. And I love riddles. And I love books. So, what’s not to love about a puzzle box of a book?

This was a book I didn’t read until well after my book had been published, and I’m still not sure why it took me so long to find it. I feel like maybe Stuart Turton and I are kindred spirits. Like maybe he somehow gained access to my mind and plucked out the perplexing and completely tangential thoughts that live there. The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is an amazing work of art. It’s complex—and perhaps sometimes confusing—but absolutely brilliant. 

By Stuart Turton,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Pop your favorite Agatha Christie whodunnit into a blender with a scoop of Downton Abbey, a dash of Quantum Leap, and a liberal sprinkling of Groundhog Day and you'll get this unique murder mystery." ―Harper's Bazaar

The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a breathlessly addictive mystery that follows one man's race to find a killer, with an astonishing time-turning twist that means nothing and no one are quite what they seem.

Aiden Bishop knows the rules. Evelyn Hardcastle will die every day until he can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again,…


Book cover of The Dream Daughter

Sarah Adlakha Why did I love this book?

What wouldn’t you do for your child? What wouldn’t you sacrifice?

Diane Chamberlain wrote a blurb for my book, and while I had already read many of her books, The Dream Daughter was one I had missed. I quickly devoured it in one night and then sat stunned that we had penned such eerily similar novels. Two women, mothers, traveling through time with the life of a child hanging in the balance and a gut-wrenching dilemma hanging over their heads. 

By Diane Chamberlain,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Dream Daughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Dream Daughter is a page-turning and unforgettable story of love and hope from bestselling author Diane Chamberlain.

When Caroline Sears receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970 and there seems to be little that can be done. But her brother-in-law, a physicist, tells her that perhaps there is. Hunter appeared in their lives just a few years before - and his appearance was as mysterious as his past. With no family, no friends, and a background shrouded in secrets, Hunter embraced the Sears family and never looked back.…


You might also like...

Too Good

By Carol Moreira,

Book cover of Too Good

Carol Moreira Author Of Riptides

New book alert!

Who am I?

I’m fascinated by the relationship of humanity to nature. When I was young, we moved all the time – my dad was in the military and we moved to a new base every 18 months. All those military bases were located in the British countryside and, in the absence of other forms of continuity, nature became like a best friend. I still walk every day. Reconnecting with trees, grass, the sounds of birds, centres and energizes me. I get my best ideas when walking. But, of course, nature is also threatening – Covid and cancer are natural. I’m fascinated by that juxtaposition and always trying to reflect it in my work.  

Carol's book list on the beauty and threat of the natural world

What is my book about?

This is a steamy tale of vulnerability and betrayal. Struggling in her marriage, her new life in England, and her work in a hospice, Canadian-born Lindsey is drawn to her best friend's attractive husband, David.

Guilt about her fascination with David is complicated by her admiration for his wife, Grace, a cancer doctor at the hospice. But when Grace is killed in a terrorist attack, Lindsey is drawn to Grace's man, unheeding of the dangers.

Too Good

By Carol Moreira,

What is this book about?

Struggling in her marriage, her new life in England, and her work in a hospice, Canadian-born Lindsey is drawn to her best friend’s attractive husband David. The sight of his lean gardener’s body working in the hospice grounds fills her with longing and makes her forget the sadness in both the hospice and her marriage.
Guilt about her fascination with David is complicated by her friendship and admiration for his wife Grace, a cancer doctor at the hospice. But when Grace is killed in a terrorist attack, Lindsey is drawn into a passionate romance with Grace’s man unheeding of the…


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