Friday, July 11, 2014
Book Club: Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas
Mother, Mother is a fast paced psychological thriller about a dysfunctional family who appears to be perfect on the outside but on the inside there are many dark and disturbing elements. Josephine, the mother in the story, is a classic manipulative narcissist who tries to control every aspect of the lives of those around her. Often in destructive and shocking ways.
12-year-old Will is sheltered and pampered by Josephine. She homeschools him and even diagnoses him with autism based on her own beliefs. Teenage Violet begins to rebel slightly against her controlling mother and turns to Eastern philosophy to help her cope - this involves shaving her head, fasting and eventually drug use. One night after a heated family argument, she is sent off to a mental ward by her mother. Douglas, the father, is at first portrayed as more of a background figure who has become an alcoholic and has given up on the state of his family. Rose is the mysterious older sister who has simply vanished, moving away from her family to live with her boyfriend - finally escaping her mother's control. Some family members eventually begin to wonder about her disappearance and the story begins to become darker, confusing and more of a mystery.
The book alternates point of view between Will and Violet. At times, it's hard to trust either of the narrators and you begin to question whether Josephine is really as horrible as Violet claims. You begin to wonder who really belongs in the mental hospital. Without giving too much away, the layers and extent of the mother's manipulation are slowly revealed and you begin to understand how truly disturbed she is as both a mother and person.
I wouldn't think of this book as a classic thriller - one with a huge twist or dramatic moment. Much of the madness is described through creepy subtle details. For example, a toilet paper roll being on backwards signifies the downfall of their perfect family facade. By the time I reached the ending, I found it to be a tad predictable but there was still some shock value once you truly realize how dysfunctional the Hurst family really is.
Mother, Mother was a quick easy read. I've heard it keeps getting compared to Girl, Interrupted and other thrillers like Gone Girl. I had a hard time getting into it at first because it seemed to start slow but I quickly got sucked into the mystery and psychological aspects.
FTC Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review