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Mother, Mother: A Novel Hardcover – September 17, 2013
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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Zailckas, known for her biting memoirs Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood (2005) and Fury: True Tales of a Girl Gone Ballistic (2010), turns to the (hopefully) fictional tale of a woman hell-bent on manipulating the world around her. Matriarch Josephine doesn’t quite have things under control the way she would prefer. Her husband is an alcoholic; her son is on the autism spectrum; her younger daughter, Violet, has just been committed to a mental hospital; and her older daughter is a runaway. But to the outside world, this extremely dysfunctional family looks practically flawless, thanks to Josephine’s well-plotted machinations. When she concocts a story meant to keep Violet locked away, it means a visit from Child Protective Services that puts the family in a spotlight, and Josephine’s carefully constructed world begins to crumble (much like the Martha Stewart scones she has ready for them upon their arrival). Josephine is a truly frightening character—realistically flawed with just the right touch of over-the-top madness—and Zailckas crafts an intriguing mystery surrounding this family that will keep readers on edge as she slowly peels back layer after layer of deception. --Rebecca Vnuk
2014 Winner of the Alex Award
“Superbly unsettling...Provocative...A haunting meditation on family, love and unimaginable loss...A firecracker thriller full of whip-smart psychological insights.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Zailckas is a writer to watch and treasure...fiercely disturbing...one of the most profound and insightful books about mother-child relationships when they go devastatingly wrong.” —Dallas Morning News
“It is a while since I've read anything as darkly funny as Koren Zailckas's Mother, Mother…Superbly paced and structured, with dialogue worthy of Lena Dunham, Mother, Mother is an engrossing, and finally shocking, read.”—The Guardian (UK)
"Koren Zailckas's Mother Mother is disturbing in the best possible way: believably. The slow, subtle darkness at the core of this book starts as a trickle and grows to a flash flood, and not once does it stop feeling absolutely authentic. Zailckas has written a gut-wrenching exploration of narcissism, dependence and family. It's an amazing book." –Kelly Braffet, author of Josie and Jack and Last Seen Leaving
“A creepy thriller [that] starts with an ordinary family and ends in nail-biting suspense…A horrifying and deeply moving look into the dark secrets in a seemingly ‘perfect family,’ this is a hard-hitting page turner.”—Parkersburg News & Sentinel
“A stunning debut that is sure to spark debate and cause a stir...Full of wise and witty observations, and a mounting sense of dread...brilliant firecracker-like prose, a page-turning plot, and an unmistakable voice.” —Paramus Post
“A riveting fiction debut…it’s the kind of book that keeps you up at night, featuring a mother to rival Medea or Mrs. Bates…The shocking and violent denouement shows Zailckas to be a consummate storyteller.” –Publishers Weekly
“Richly imagined and bring[s] to mind Susanna Kaysen's Girl, Interrupted... An excellent page-turner recommended for those who enjoy psychological thrillers and aren't afraid of narratives that look evil in the face.” –Library Journal
“Zailckas crafts an intriguing mystery surrounding this family that will keep readers on edge as she slowly peels back layer after layer of deception.” –Booklist
“A hall of mirrors reflecting chaotic maternal psychological mayhem reminiscent of Mommie Dearest or Push or Ordinary People.”–Kirkus Reviews
“An exquisitely written psychological thriller...Just as captivating as her memoirs.”—Book Page
“Think Mommie Dearest meets Psycho. Then just sit back, open the book, and have an absolute ball.” —Suspense Magazine
"[An] impressive debut novel...engaging, well-crafted."—Bustle.com
Top customer reviews
Sure, I was taken in by the cast of characters. Josephine as the queen/witch domineering mother/wife; Viola in her school girl new-age beyond her years wisdom with her supportive friends and allies, Douglas as her father with his new-found sobriety, Will her younger brother, too sheltered to know any better as a twelve year old boy smothered at his mother's bosom. But....really? What 12 year old honestly has to question if it's unusual at that age to have his mother bathe him? Does he not have access to television and books about young adulthood? As the plot unraveled so did the credibility factor - especially as the book reached its surprising climax, and I'm usually pretty good at anticipating such twists and turns but this one had me fairly astounded. Incredulous, I realized upon digestion. And that took some of the enjoyment out of it for me. It simply strained belief a bit too much.
Absolutely there are mothers who are devious, damaged and destructive. But for one to go to the lengths that Josephine has to keep up her image of perfection, well surely even the most sociopathic of sociopaths would crack under the pressure. I'm all for suspending disbelief for the sake of fiction - but in order to be absorbed by fiction, I must be convinced of some degree of plausibility. And I'm afraid there was simply too much implausible for this to have gone as far as it had without some crack in the foundation from occurring - or being detected by at least one of the other characters including the trained detectives and/or mental health staff - earlier in the game. Entertaining; sure. But a great work of fiction that could parallel life: eh, maybe not so much.
Douglas never seemed to have meant any harm. I think he was so used to Josephine controlling everything, that he just went with it and lost sight of the most important things; his kids.
Josephine, I'll just say that she didn't get nearly what she deserved. She is a sad, sad, human being.
Every mother, father and teenager should probably read this!