Author: Koren Zailckas
First Published: 2013
Page Count: 363
Film/ TV Adaptation: No
Rating: 5/5 Stars
A book that manages to give us a character that takes mothering to a whole new, shockingly crazy level.
*Fast Paced Story *Josephine
*Confusing Flashbacks *Violet’s Point of View
“Narcissists think other people are just ego food, tools or extensions of themselves.” Josephine Hurst would like the world to see her family as the picture of perfection. She sees her family and their success as an extension of herself. However, a closer look reveals a family life that is far from ideal. Her tech husband is struggling with addiction to alcohol, her oldest daughter, Rose, ran away from home, her middle child, Violet, has landed in a psych ward, and her youngest, Will, is extremely introverted and dependent on his mother, especially after his recent diagnosis with Asperger’s. What happens to a family when the mother is hell-bent on maintaining order and the appearance of a first-rate household no matter the consequences?
I knew this was about a wackadoodle mother and how she messes up her family. That much was clear from the description on the back of the book. But once we meet Josephine it doesn’t take long at all for the reader to become acquainted with her “special” parenting skills. On the scale of crazy mommies, she would definitely fall more near the Norma Bates end of the range, especially when you look at how she interacts with her youngest child, Will. At first I pitied her. With all the awful things she has to deal with from every family member, I couldn’t blame her for being a bit uptight. Big mistake…Truth after ugly truth is revealed and it made it hard to put the book down. I never felt like the fast pace stalled for a second and that’s mostly because mommy dearest is so entertainingly awful.
There were only two little negatives that would pop up on my radar as I read. In the beginning, there are flashback scenes that seem to appear out of nowhere and it would take a while for me to realize we had jumped to a different time. The transition could have been smoother. I also disliked reading the chapters based on Violet’s point of view. The book is split between Will and Violet’s point of view, and maybe I found Will more interesting because of his age and closeness to his mother. We could see first hand the manipulation and abuse, but knowing Will was so young made the acts more vile. Violet’s part in the story just didn’t interest me as much since a lot of it is in the psych ward. However, her side of the story is vital so it’s not as if the whole book could have been only through Will’s eyes.
This is another good thriller to add to any reader’s list. I wish there was a sequel because I feel that the ripple effect of Josephine’s actions on her family, especially Will, would be really interesting to observe. I’ll definitely have to check out this author’s other books if they are anything like Mother, Mother. I had no idea how intensely engaging and interesting this book would be, but I’m glad I got the chance to read it.