From Koren Zailckas, author of the iconic memoir Smashed: an electrifying debut novel about a family being torn apart by the woman who claims to love them most.
Josephine Hurst has her family under control. With two beautiful daughters, a brilliantly intelligent son, a tech-guru of a husband and a historical landmark home, her life is picture perfect. She has everything she wants; all she has to do is keep it that way. But living in this matriarch's determinedly cheerful, yet subtly controlling domain hasn't been easy for her family, and when her oldest daughter, Rose, runs off with a mysterious boyfriend, Josephine tightens her grip, gradually turning her flawless home into a darker sort of prison.
Resentful of her sister's newfound freedom, Violet turns to eastern philosophy, hallucinogenic drugs, and extreme fasting, eventually landing herself in the psych ward. Meanwhile, her brother Will shrinks further into a world of self-doubt. Recently diagnosed with Aspergers and epilepsy, he's separated from the other kids around town and is homeschooled to ensure his safety. Their father, Douglas, finds resolve in the bottom of the bottle—an addict craving his own chance to escape. Josephine struggles to maintain the family's impeccable façade, but when a violent incident leads to a visit from child protective services, the truth about the Hursts might finally be revealed.
Written with the style, dark wit and shrewd psychological insight that made Smashed a best seller, Zailckas's first novel is unforgettable. In the spirit of classic suspense novels by Shirley Jackson and Daphne DuMaurier, Mother, Mother is the terrifying story of a mother's love gone too far, and the introduction of a commanding new voice in fiction.
©2013 Koren Zailckas (P)2013 Random House Audio
"A riveting fiction debut…it's the kind of book that keeps you up at night, featuring a mother to rival Medea or Mrs. Bates…The shocking and violent denouement shows Zailckas to be a consummate storyteller." (Publishers Weekly)
"Zailckas crafts an intriguing mystery surrounding this family that will keep readers on edge as she slowly peels back layer after layer of deception." (Booklist)
"A hall of mirrors reflecting chaotic maternal psychological mayhem reminiscent of Mommie Dearest or Push or Ordinary People." (Kirkus Reviews)
Based on great reviews by reputable sources, I really expected to enjoy this book a lot. Not so!
Aside from some fairly sophisticated psychological analyses of the effects of parental emotional abuse and of narcissistic personality disorder, I don't think this book has much to offer. The mother is a largely one dimensional character and thus it became easy for me to predict many of the things that were going to happen next. While there are some mysteries that unfold at a nice pace and a few real surprises, I was mostly bored by this story.
Another reviewer mentioned that if you like Gillian Flynn's writing (Gone Girl), you are likely to enjoy this book. I agree, although I did not enjoy Gone Girl myself. The two books seem similar to me in that one needs to enjoy being a spectator of very calculating, heartless people--along with some big plot twists and turns--to enjoy these books. What I found missing from both books were the more subtle dynamics of relationships that can make a book really great. There just weren't enough layers or shades of grey to make this book compelling for me.
That said, Gone Girl is a very popular book, so Mother, Mother may very well appeal to a large audience. Though I did not find it very interesting or enjoyable, I am probably in the minority. So do read other reviews and take mine with a grain of salt.
Well written story of a disfunctional family, told from two completely different perspectives. This tale brought out deep feelings for all the characters, from sympathy and empathy, to loathing and incredulty. Great narration from Rebecca Lowman. If you like Gillian Flynn's work, this is a book for you.
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