Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas, ISBN: 9780007547401, Out now to buy.


Whilst out shopping at the weekend, this book caught my eye. A psychological suspense book, Mother, Mother has been out since March 2014. Mother is Josephine, a highly educated and intelligent woman who gives up a glowing career to home-school her son. Will, is Josephine’s 12-year-old son, a polite and sensible child who adores his mother. Then there are the girls, the natural-born actress Rose and the sassy Violet. Not forgetting Douglas, the father with a steady position at IBM. On paper, the Hurst family are just your average hard working family. Behind closed doors they are a most dysfunctional family. For inside the four walls of the Hurst home, masks slip and the reality is that Josephine is a narcissist, who isn’t as well educated as she would have people believe; Douglas is a pathetic drunk with his head stuck in the sand in regards to the goings on of his family; Will is dangerously under Josephine’s spell, so much so that it is sinister, and Rose hasn’t lived with the family for a year now, having been unable to cope with her mother’s vindictive personality. As for Violet, she is being carted off to a psychiatric ward at the beginning of the story for apparently lurching at her mother with a knife!

Violet knows the only person who needs sanctioning is her mother. But how does a 16-year-old girl get the adults to see that her mother is the one that needs help, not her?

This book takes its time in building the tension, so when Josephine begins to reveal her true personality you are on the edge of your seat, marvelling at her audacity. It is a chilling read, primarily because you are watching a mother’s vindictiveness determine her children’s future and it is horrifying to witness; you feel utterly helpless. But it does raise some uncomfortable questions, especially how child services and child protection teams can ever help children in similar circumstances, as emotional abuse leaves no tell-tale physical scars…

The pace of the action draws you in and forces you to become involved in the story and makes Mother, Mother one of those books that you simply must devour in one go to find out if certain characters get their comeuppance!

It was quite funny to read some of the reviews for this book and a few caught my eye. One reviewer mentioned that they wanted to slap Will (bearing in mind he is 12 years old!) for being so under his mother’s spell, and yes at times I wanted to scream at him and bring him to his senses, but I think this reaction is perhaps a credit to Koren’s characterisation because Will is effectively a child who is, quite rightfully so, obeying his mother. As somebody who was also raised in a psychologically damaging environment, I fully understand why Will reacts the way he does – he is trying to please and be loved unconditionally – after all, isn’t that what we all want at that age? As for both him and Violet, and indeed Rose, it is the aftermath that is heart-breaking to witness and I think Karen has it spot on here. Will is perhaps left  the most damaged, and in turn his future remains bleak. I personally, felt like slapping Douglas more than anyone else in the book. Douglas is the Dad; the head of the family, yet he chose to shut himself off and bury his head in the sand because it got too much for him. Some reviewers have said he was a victim too, but in my opinion, he was more to blame than Josephine because he allowed it to manifest itself in his own family. Rather than doing his job and protecting his children, he took the easy way out; drink…

This was one family that were doomed from the moment Douglas and Josephine locked eyes on each other!

Mother, Mother is a tantalizing psychological read which will have you shouting at the pages… (Note to self; probably best not to keep reading these types of books in coffee shops then!) This was definitely one hell of a roller-coaster ride book to read, which now has my teenage daughter glued to it!







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