Wednesday, 19 March 2014

" Mother, Mother " by Koren Zailckas

I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book from Killer Reads so a big Thank You to them......

Violet Hurst finds herself as an inmate at a psychiatric unit despite her protestations that she has done nothing wrong. She is only sixteen years old.  Her brother, Will, has been taken to the ER with substantial cuts to his hands which Violet has been accused of doing.  He is twelve years old and has been diagnosed with epilepsy and autism.  Violet swears she has seen her sister, Rose, who has been missing since dropping out of college.  Then there are Josephine and Douglas, the parents, with their own issues.  This is the start of this family's 
story.  Told from the perspective of each family member, in chapter form,  the reader is given the opportunity to know each character, albeit in a one dimensional way.  

Had you ever wondered what a narcissist is really like, then this is the book for you.  Josephine is a perfect package of what narcissism is : cocky, overly confident, dismissive and short on praise for anyone but herself.  She homeschools Will and this is a typical conversation she has with her son :
" There are days when I wonder if leaving the art department was the right thing to do.  I've given my life for you, I've sacrificed it all. "
" It means a lot to me ".
" I know. You love me, right? Tell me you think I'm a good mom and a good teacher. Tell me you don't hate me as much as Rose and Violet do.  It's you and me against everyone, Will " 

Violet meets some other teenagers, with their own troubles, in the unit and through her conversations with them, she soon learns some insight into her mother's personality.  
" Some mothers cannot love, " Edie said,her voice a touch too aggressive and loud. "As any farmer, they'll tell you some moms just aren't naturals. Having a baby doesn't make you a mother, anymore than buying a piano makes you Fucking Beethoven. "

The story is drip fed, very slow to start with, building up intensity mid way through the novel which is where we start to question motives and wonder how a family like this can go about their daily lives without anyone noticing how unnatural their behaviour is.  The characters are well written, if a little stiff, and the main storyline is pretty thrilling as a concept.  However, I did not find the book thrilling at all.  It picked up some momentum in the middle but by then I had guessed the ending and was willing the book to hold my interest until I got to the last bit.  Unfortunately, the last couple of chapters were rushed and disappointing.  Had the author spent less time introducing the characters so slowly at the beginning and given more detail to the ending of the novel, it could have been a perfect examination of a flawed family and how to learn from them.....

Mother, Mother is published by HarperCollins and is available in Hardback, Paperback and ebook format.

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