Monday, October 7, 2013

Mother, Mother - Koren Zailckas

Koren Zailckas? Yes, you may recognize the name - Zailckas penned the New York Times best selling memoir Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood.

Zailckas turns her hand to fiction with her debut novel Mother, Mother.

Oh man, where to start.....

Josephine Hurst likes things her way - perfect. Her perfect. And she lovingly imposes her will on her family - husband Douglas, daughter Violet and son Will. Her other daughter Rose has run away from home.

Zailckas lets us know right from the first pages that Josephine isn't like other mothers, as much as she tries to portrays that image. "Thou shalt feign perfection and thou shalt not air the family laundry. "The whole family lives in a state of permanent watchfulness....just waiting....Douglas chooses to self medicate with alcohol and leaves his children to fend for themselves. Violet has chosen drugs. Rose escaped. And William has been diagnosed as epileptic and autistic. (But it took Josie a bit to find a doctor who agreed with her diagnosis)

Mother, Mother is told from two viewpoints  - that of Violet and William. Both narratives are wildly different - Violet know her life isn't normal and wants to escape like Rose, while William is determined to defend his mother. The same events are seen through different sets of eyes. But as a reader, both accounts only serve to underscore how twisted, manipulative and insidious Josephine is. And I mean really, really terrifying....

There is no gray territory, no sitting on the fence, no reserving judgement in Zailckas's novel. You'll be rooting for Violet, hoping she can find the strength she needs, wanting to reach into the pages and shake Douglas and wake him up to wake him up to what is happening around him. William needs to be deprogrammed as quickly as possible. Where is Rose? And Josephine...what's frightening is that there are people like this in the world.

"Her mother's eyes had held Violet with a looks-could-kill glare. It was a face that carried a vindictive warning. A face that told Violet, Just you wait..."

Mother, Mother is a thriller in the highest sense - we know there's a monster in the closet, even if others don't see it. The question is - what happens when the lights go off?

You won't be turning the lights off until you're done this book - I raced through most of it one late night and got up early to see it through to the end. Many books have been touted as appealing to fans of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl.  Few, if any, have lived up to that recommendation. Mother, Mother does. Think Mommie Dearest meets Psycho meets Girl Interrupted. See what I mean - read an excerpt of Mother, Mother. Whatever Zailckas writes next - I'm reading.

You can find Koren Zailckas on Twitter.


Unknown said...

Hi Luanne,
I enjoyed your review of "Mother, Mother."
It seems a bit intense with my current medical condition. I think I told you I'm being treated for lung cancer.
I do seem to be doing pretty good and am under an excellent doctor's care.

PS If you get a chance, please stop in at my blog and say hi. Being sick, when I hear from old friends, it's like a medicine, very helpful.

bermudaonion said...

Oh man, you've made me want to drop everything and pick this book up!

Luanne said...

Mike - I'm heading over to say hi!
Kathy - you won't be able to put it down...