From Publishers Weekly
A mother on trial for the attempted murder of her children opens Campbell's piercing latest. The story shifts back in time to explore Simone Duran's childhood with her sister, Roxanne, and their self-absorbed mother and also Simone's life as a stay-at-home mom suffering from postpartum depression. Simone's neglect of infant daughter Olivia, who she lets lie in her crib crying for hours on end, tears at the heart, but while Simone's mothering is disturbing, Campbell (Blood Orange) highlights the underlying factors that have pushed Simone to this edge, giving the story balance. Simone's macho husband prevents her seeking treatment while he imposes pregnancy after pregnancy on her in his desire to finally have a son. Add Roxanne's overprotectiveness of Simone, and you have a completely dependent woman. Campbell burns through Simone's struggles and also those of Roxanne in haunting, graphic detail. This portrait of the inner life of a woman whose psychotic state led her to believe that killing her children and herself would have been best for all of them should be on everyone's book club list.
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Roxanne has always been responsible for her sister, Simone. Their absentee father and abusive mother ensured that the girls would rely on each other. When the unstable Simone marries a wealthy man, it seems Roxanne’s caretaking job is over, and she begins to fashion a new life for herself. Unfortunately, the stress of multiple pregnancies and episodes of postpartum depression make things worse for Simone. The novel opens with Simone’s trial for the attempted murder of three of her children, which weakens suspense and makes it hard for the reader to become invested in the childrens' fate. The unrealistic survival of the children may have been written to ensure that the character remains sympathetic, but it would have been more interesting to see if sympathy could be maintained for a damaged woman who was successful in her attempts at murder. A note from the author describes her own family’s struggle with postpartum depression, and a reading group guide makes this a natural for book groups. --Marta Segal Block