This is going to sound like an extremely weird and specific identification request, but the book popped into my head a few days ago and it's become an itch in my brain to remember which book it was. I remember enough about it that it will hopefully be identifiable.
About the book
The book was definitely in the science fiction genre and was possibly young adult (YA) fiction, but I remember the book having some mature topics in it. I don't think that the plot I'm about to describe was the main plot; for some reason I remember it being only a sideplot to the main story, but I could be wrong. I think it may also have been part of a series or trilogy. I read it at some point in either middle school or high school during a phase when I was super into science fiction, and the main reason I remember it so vividly is because of this specific plotline, which was incredibly haunting and stuck with me. This was about 9-10 years ago. I live in the United States, and I don't remember what country the book was set in but it was probably also the U.S. The book was in English and all the characters spoke English.
In the story, a young female doctor is starting a new position at either a doctor's office, a hospital, or a pediatrician's office - cannot remember which. I believe she was a psychiatrist or psychologist specifically, but am not completely sure. The job involves a very domineering and controlling male character who doubts her credentials and intellect, and I remember them butting heads several times as the main character tries to prove she is a competent doctor who knows what she is doing. The doctor encounters several cases over the course of the plot where this occurs.
In the course of the story, the main character comes across a very young girl who has been accused of violently killing her brother and/or diagnosed with sociopathy and antisocial personality disorder. I don't remember the specific way she killed him, but I think it was very gruesome, maybe stabbing. The young girl is extremely sweet, friendly and charismatic with the main character, acting like a typical cute child with a harmless exterior, and appears to be trying to manipulate her. She is not allowed to interact with her family as a result of what happened because she's being kept in custody, but the parents still feel affection for her despite what happened and seem to want a resolution where she's able to live with them again. She claims to feel remorse for what she did and generally acts as you would expect a charismatic sociopath to act.
I can't remember if the doctor is charmed by her into letting her go back to her family or if the doctor is ordered into it by her superior, but regardless, plot events transpire where the child is eventually allowed to go back to live with her family for a short period of time as a test run to re-integrate her, whereupon she murders a family member or possibly the whole family - cannot remember which. I remember this bit being a shocking event in the story and it being a very powerful and frightening reveal. The main character is extremely distraught about the events and can't forgive herself for the part she played in it.
Other details I vaguely remember
- There was some other case the main character dealt with that involved patients with encephalitis, Parkinson's or some other brain condition, and she had a flash of insight into what was really wrong with one of the patients that contradicted with what her superior had diagnosed - I think it was something to do with how he walked and his gait. It felt like an "Awakenings" kind of thing. Later she discovers the superior overwrote his diagnosis with her new diagnosis and took all the credit for her discovery.
- I think the main character had a neutral/nonbinary-sounding name.
- The main character had a male best friend who I think was also a doctor.
- For some reason I have a vague memory of the book involving AI, androids or robots, but it's possible I'm mixing it up with other books I liked at the time.
I will be forever grateful if someone recognizes this book and can scratch the itch in my brain. If I find it again I'd like to read it again with more mature eyes, since a lot of the more adult topics in the book probably went over my head at the time I read it.