From Koren Zailckas, author of the iconic memoir SMASHED: an electrifying debut novel about a family being torn apart by the woman who claims to love them most
Josephine Hurst has her family under control. With two beautiful daughters, a brilliantly intelligent son, a tech-guru of a husband, and a historical landmark home, her life is picture perfect. But living in this matriarch’s determinedly cheerful, yet subtly controlling domain hasn’t been easy for her family, and when her oldest daughter, Rose, runs off with a mysterious boyfriend, Josephine tightens her grip, gradually turning her flawless home into a darker sort of prison.
Resentful of her sister’s newfound freedom, Violet turns to eastern philosophy, hallucinogenic drugs, and extreme fasting, eventually landing herself in a psych ward. Meanwhile, her brother, Will, recently diagnosed with Asperger's, shrinks further into a world of self-doubt. Their father, Douglas, finds resolve in the bottom of a bottle—an addict craving his own chance to escape. Josephine struggles to maintain the family’s impeccable façade, but when a violent incident leads to a visit from child protective services, the truth about the Hursts might finally be revealed.
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This is a riveting fiction debut from Zailckas, whose bestselling memoirs Smashed and Fury portrayed the author as a young woman ravaged by alcohol addiction and anger. Never mind that Zailckas explores some of the same disturbing territory here. It's the kind of book that keeps you up at night, featuring a mother to rival Medea or Mrs. Bates. Violet, the dysfunctional Hurst family's stoner middle child, cannot remember which family member slashed her 12-year-old brother Will the night she overdosed on some strange seeds. But her mother, Josephine, blames her, and has her committed to a psychiatric hospital. Violet has no idea who to turn to for help: her spineless, alcoholic father, Douglas; her runaway older sister, Rose; or Will, the home-schooled mama's boy. Violet searches for clues relating to Rose's disappearance, but nothing adds up, and every day Will becomes more desperately dependent on Josephine. The shocking and violent denouement shows Zailckas to be a consummate storyteller. Let's hope that when she's used up all her own demons as subject matter, she'll come looking for ours.
MOTHER MOTHER - AMAZING
A novel full of suspense and realistic twists and turns. Couldn't put it down!
This is, by far, THE best novel I have read about a dysfunctional family, and the power the mother of such a family wields over all the people under her control. Once I began reading the experiences of the children born to the woman who manipulates, distorts, and lies about everything her two daughters and son do, I could not put the book down until I found out where it lead. Reading about how such manipulation can be done brought out such feelings of anger in me, but this is also a very sad story of how young children can be damaged by such an important person in their lives. No one escaped from this story without psychological damage, but the ending does leave a ray of hope that something can be salvaged from the wreck made of the individuals involved. This is an excellent psychological study for those who like to learn about why people do what they do, but it's also one heck of a page turner about someone who makes Mommie Dearest look almost lovable.