Thursday, January 9, 2014

Book Review: Mother, Mother by Koren Zailkas

Writing this one today to satisfy the demands of one of my favorite Reader Friends, Joyce.  Hey Joyce, I'm finally writing the review!

I was torn about whether or not I wanted to read this one.  On the one hand, I had seen it on several lists of books about crazy mothers (love) and comparisons to Gillian Flynn's writing (also love).  On the other hand, I've tried Zailckas' memoir and didn't finish it because I just wasn't feeling it.  When this one showed up on yet another list of books about twisted families (obsessed much?  For the record, my family is astoundingly normal) AND on FLP's site, I decided to go for it.

It's about Violet, who has found herself in a locked psych ward after a night she can't remember.  She knows she took hallucinogenic drugs, but she's sure that her mother isn't telling the truth when she says Violet attacked her brother, Will.  She also blames her mother for driving away her older sister, Rose, who she hasn't heard from in months.  She's desperate to protect her brother from her mother's schemes, but the family appears picture perfect from the outside and Violet's word is hard to take seriously, given her experimentation with drugs.  With Violet locked away and Rose out of the picture, Will finds himself at the center of his mother's machinations, but Violet is determined to bring the family's secrets into the light.

Did writing happen in this book?  I didn't notice because STORY.  Which, honestly, is exactly how I like my thrillers to be.  I don't want to be busy noticing your clever turn of phrase or extraordinarily detailed characterization, I want to be consumed by the plot and wondering what will happen next.  And this one provided just that.  So no, nothing jumped out at me as far as writing goes, but that was a good thing in this case.

Entertainment Value
I was totally hooked.  I read it in two sittings because I just couldn't put it down.  It wasn't predictable (at least for me) and I had several moments of being shocked, which is just what I was looking for.  I'm not sure that I liked it as much as I liked Gillian Flynn's books, but it was close.  Despite the similarities, I think Zailckas has done something original and unique with this book and it establishes her as an author I'm interested in based on its own individual merit.

I recommended it to Joyce before I even finished it, and, now that she's read it, she's told me she's passed the recommendation along as well.  If you like Flynn, if you're fascinated by twisted family dynamics, or if you're a fan of thrillers, this is a great one to read.

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