Sunday, June 29, 2014

Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas

Holy shit.  That's what I kept saying to myself as I read this book.  I didn't think it could get any weirder, any scarier, or any more chilling.
The story begins with a daughter, Violet, being locked into a mental ward for attacking her younger brother with a knife while being high on psychedelic seeds. Her mother doesn't want her to come home because she needs to keep her autistic son safe.  Seems legit, right?  But then as you listen to the mother (I don't even want to say this freak's name), you start to see the subtle disconnect in each person's version of the truth.
I love books that show each person's interpretation of the story, but in this case, it seemed a little too scary, a little too real.  The mother feeds people her version of reality, but you can tell that even she doesn't believe it, but that she just seems to enjoy the power of making people fall in line in order to keep her happy.
Being unjustly admitted to the psychiatric hospital turns out to be the best thing for Violet.  She has fellow patients who listen and believe her when she tells them that her mother is evil on a stick. 
They even give Violet a definition for her mother, "narcissist".
I think the common definition of narcissist is just that girl in your office that thinks she is God's gift to the building and the UPS man, but in the true mental health definition, it is a pervasive need for admiration and a lack of empathy.  The mother tried to get her needs met first by Violet's older sister Rose, but Rose eventually tired of trying to please her mother and ran away.  The final straw for Rose was her mother's demand she have an abortion, then torturing her about having an abortion. W.....T.....F....... who does that????  Rose refuses to have any contact with her mother, which is unacceptable for a narcissist.
After being gone for over a year, Rose reaches out to Violet via letter, which her mother delivers to the mental ward.  This is just one example of things that the mother does where you are left raising your eyebrows, thinking, "this doesn't seem right".  Throughout the whole book, I could never get a handle of this woman.  She was scarily unpredictable, and I felt myself wondering what was real and what was a lie.
Violet finds her father speaking at an offsite AA meeting, and his newfound experience of sobriety give him the courage to start taking a look at his crumbling family.  He takes the creepy little brother, Will, to his own psychiatrist, who determines that the diagnosis Will has is anxiety disorder leading to dissociative attacks.  Following Will throughout the book, you can see this kid may be too far under the mother's spell to get out.  There are times that his thought pattern mimics her perfectly.  It made me wonder about nature vs. nurture, as two daughters spent their teen years trying to escape and Will spends his time trying to make sure he can stay with the mother.
With Violet continuing to speak the truth to anyone who will listen, and her father coming out of his alcohol induced walking coma, the mother's world is crumbling.  Suddenly, Rose writes a letter to Violet saying that she can come and live with her in the city.  This sent my nerve endings screaming, "It's a trap!".  I just couldn't figure out who was setting the trap.
At this point, I was thinking the mother had murdered Rose.  I won't go into any more detail about that since this review is already full of dumb ass spoilers, but it's hard to describe this book without spoilers because
the whole book was so intense and full of plot twists.
Love, love, loved it.  Will be telling everyone I know to read it!!
I was given a free copy of this book from Blogging For Books and the publisher, Broadway Books in exchange for an honest review.

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