Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas

Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas
Release Date – September 17, 2013
Publisher Website – Random House
Publisher Social Media -  Twitter
Pages - 384 pages
My Rating- 3/5
**received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review**


Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
When people hear the word mother it doesn't often bring to mind someone who would hurt you. Sadly, we know that it does happen. It's in the news, media, and it always makes us pause. In Mother, Mother, Koren Zailckas shines a harsh light on the realities of abuse, the damage of secrets, and the fallout of manipulation.

I spent so much of this novel enraged at the characters. If there had been better communication so much of this novel would have been cleared away easily. While we are left to wonder who is telling the truth at first, it quickly become apparently what is really going on. The lack of communication is a direct result of manipulation, and a desire for self preservation. It explains it, but doesn't make it any less maddening.

Each of the members of this family have a role to play. The novel makes you question whether it's one they've chosen, one that is expected of them, or one that they've been pushed into. Are they being shoved in, molded, or did they simply fall into them? It makes the characters read as if they've been pigeonholed, but it's part of the way the novel reveals itself.

Will and Violet are two examples of how children living in the same household can grow to be completely different. They sharply contrasted each other and I found myself going back and forth while reading the dual narratives but not fully believing in either of them. This book has been compared to Gone Girl and what worked so well in that novel, didn't come across as well in this one. In Gone Girl each side is equally compelling, and persuasive. In this, you all too clearly see what is going on, and it takes some of the suspense out of what should have been a sharp psychological thriller.

The deeper you go into the novel, the more unsettled you become. You're left to wonder what exactly is going on with Josephine. There a little Munchhausen by proxy, a little control freak, a need to manipulate, and a definite narcissistic streak. However, there are times where you doubt yourself. Are you sure that is what's really going on? The mystery of what caused Rose to leave is one of the few genuine surprises in the novel, and unraveling the reality behind what is going on kept me turning the pages as fast as I could.

A unsettling look at the damage parental abuse can do, and the scars it can leave behind. A novel that both read quickly, and dragged on a little too long. It's one that left me feeling conflicted but I think that's the entire point.

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