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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Joint Review: Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas

Author: Koren Zailckas
Publisher: Crown
Date of publication: September 2013

 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. 

As I read Mother, Mother, I don't think my stomach relaxed for a minute.  Josephine is like Mommy Dearest on crack.   She would give Joan Crawford a run for her money.  The sad part of this story, is that so many people around and within the family are too wrapped up in their own stuff to really see what Josephine was like.  Her abuse of her children was not physical alone.  The head games she played with them are sickening.  The characters were realistically portrayed.   We have the oldest daughter, Rose, who rebels and runs away to escape the house, the second daughter, Violet, who turns to drugs and alcohol to escape and the youngest son, Will, who has been so brainwashed by his mother that he will believe anything she says.  I think the person I felt most badly for was Douglas.  His alcoholism has robbed him of his kids and his sobriety is still too new to allow him to find a way back to his kids.

It's hard for me to say I "enjoyed" the book because of the content.  Abuse is not something one should say they enjoy reading about.  I will instead say I  really liked the book and do recommend it.  The book toggles between Violet and Will as the story unfolds of what really happened the night Will was injured and what really happened to the missing Rose.  I thought I had it figured out, but I really didn't.  I liked that.  This book is definitely one that will stay with me for a while. 
Kari is right, this book will make a strong impression.  Mother, Mother isn't necessarily an enjoyable book, but it's like a horrible trainwreck that you can't stop looking at.  It was hard to imagine that someone could be so evil without other people noticing for so long, but Koren Zailckas presented her characters as utterly believable. 

One of the things I would have liked a little more explanation about was the relationship with Josephine and her parents.  What shaped Josephine into the monster that she was?  The book touched on her parents from time to time, but there was never a full description of what actually happened.

About the author:                                                                                   Photo credit: Eamon Hamilton
You may recall Koren from her memoir Smashed, which took the world by storm when it was published in 2005. The riveting, absorbing story of her teenage alcoholism was a tour-de-force, has sold over a half million copies, and has become a touchstone of the memoir genre. In their review of SmashedEntertainment Weekly raved “This fine young writer’s greatest gift is her gripping, vivid storytelling.” Now, Zailckas turns her considerable talent to fiction writing, with a darkly suspenseful debut novel that is taut, compelling, and ultimately terrifying.

Twitter: @KorenZailcka

Check out what others are saying on tour:

Monday, September 16th:  Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, September 17th:  Books a la Mode
Wednesday, September 18th:  River City Reading
Wednesday, September 18th:  Books a la Mode - guest post/giveaway
Thursday, September 19th:  Between the Covers
Monday, September 23rd:  Mental Foodie
Wednesday, September 25th:  Fiction Addict
Thursday, September 26th:  The Best Books Ever
Monday, September 30th:  Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, October 1st:  From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, October 2nd:  Sara’s Organized Chaos
Thursday, October 3rd:   Luxury Reading
Friday, October 4th:  Sweet Southern Home
Monday, October 7th:  A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, October 8th:  WV Stitcher
Wednesday, October 9th:  5 Minutes for Books
Thursday, October 10th:  Overflowing Bookshelves
Monday, October 14th:  50 Books Project 

1 comment:

heathertlc said...

"enjoyed" is a hard word to use with a book like this, but it sounds like a very compelling read to be sure.

Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.