Synopses & Reviews
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. 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.
Written with the style, dark wit and shrewd psychological insight that made Smashed a bestseller, Zailckas’s first novel is unforgettable. In the spirit of classic suspense novels by Shirley Jackson and Daphne DuMaurier, Mother, Mother is the terrifying and page-turning story of a mother’s love gone too far, and the introduction of a commanding new voice in fiction.
"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. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Koren Zailckas's Mother Mother is disturbing in the best possible way: believably. The slow, subtle darkness at the core of this book starts as a trickle and grows to a flash flood, and not once does it stop feeling absolutely authentic. Zailckas has written a gut-wrenching exploration of narcissism, dependence and family. It's an amazing book." Kelly Braffet, author of Josie and Jack and Last Seen Leaving
“Richly imagined and bring[s] to mind Susanna Kaysen's Girl, Interrupted....An excellent page-turner recommended for those who enjoy psychological thrillers and aren't afraid of narratives that look evil in the face.” Library Journal
“Zailckas crafts an intriguing mystery surrounding this family that will keep readers on edge as she slowly peels back layer after layer of deception.” Booklist
About the Author
Koren Zailckas is an internationally bestselling writer, and has contributed to The Guardian, U.S. News & World Report, Glamour, Jane, and Seventeen magazine. She currently lives with her family in the Catskills mountains of New York.