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. She has everything she wants; all she has to do is keep it that way. 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 the psych ward. Meanwhile, her brother Will shrinks further into a world of self-doubt. Recently diagnosed with Aspergers and epilepsy, he’s separated from the other kids around town and is homeschooled to ensure his safety. Their father, Douglas, finds resolve in the bottom of the 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.
Mother, Mother is a psychological thriller that has several unexpected plot twists. It's told from two different perspectives. Young Will, who is home schooled and believed to be Autistic and teenage Violet, expressing herself with religion and drugs. Their older sister, Rose, left a few years earlier and it's between Will and Violet that what transpired to the point Rose left and what is happening in the present is revealed.
The mother, Josephine, is a controlling freak and the father is seldom seen or heard - busy with business and drinking. But when Violet has a drug induced episode one evening at dinner, which she says she saw Rose in the hallway and her brother ends up hurt, is when the family starts spiraling even further out of control. Violet is put into a psych ward by her mother, and from there she starts investigating, along with Child Protection Services and the local Police, into the whereabouts of Rose.
I felt sorry for the kids raised by such a narcissistic mother and a pretty much absent father. I was worried about how far Josephine had gone, or would go to keep her perfect family the way the wanted it to be. Zailckas does an impeccable job of maintaining the suspense and tying up the answers to all the raised questions. The characters are well-developed with many layers that were slowly revealed until the final conclusion. If you enjoy psychological thrillers with a family dynamic that may disturb you on many levels, you may enjoy Mother, Mother. I certainly did.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Wendy