Do you have Mommy or Daddy issues? Many people will answer “who doesn’t?”, but if you’re currently receiving therapy for any f family-related problems, you should avoid this psychological thriller at all costs. Why do I begin this review with a warning? Because this book is THAT good. It will have you second guessing all your happy childhood memories, analyzing them to pick out the evil motivations of your parents and siblings. Scared yet? Let’s dive into the reasoning behind my warning.
Every member of the fictional Hurst family is messed up in their own way. The most trusted and ‘normal’ character of the book is committed to a psych hospital within the first few pages-yes, she’s the one you feel the most connected to, so that should give you an idea of the people that feature in this novel. You quickly discover that the villain of the book is the matriarch of the family, and the term ‘matriarch’ really does suit Josephine Hurst, because she rules her roost like a tyrant.
Do you remember reading Gone Girl and thinking “Wow, she’s messed up”? Well, you have that thought to look forward to again when reading about Josephine, because Mother, Mother lives up to the hype of that book, and more. Why hasn’t Mother, Mother gotten the same attention as Gone Girl? It’s unfair because I think Zailckas’s writing is way better than what appears in Gillian Flynn’s blockbuster, but perhaps the idea of someone in your family being unstable rings true for too many readers.
A sign that this book is truly accomplished is the fact that it had me second guessing the motivations of each of the characters at different points throughout the novel. Who is lying? Surprisingly, there aren’t a whole lot of twists in the plot, mainly just stories told from different perspectives, but what’s so great about this book is that depending on the reader, you may identify with different stories at different times. I immediately distrusted the father figure, but perhaps a male reader may see his story in a more positive light.
Family dynamics are strange phenomena that we all deal with on a regular basis as we struggle to explain our own household’s quirks to outsiders. People get defensive when others point out the strange habits of their family, yet we’re more than happy to joke about the weirdness that pervades our own family reunions. Zailckas plays on this notion throughout her book, shifting our allegiances to characters by pushing the boundaries of what’s considered ‘normal’ within a family. Have I piqued your interest yet? I’m hoping my use of big words is helping my case here, but if not, take a chance on Mother, Mother anyway.