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books and reading

Wonderland

First of all, thank you NetGalley for letting me access this book! Second of all, this cover is gorgeous and fits the book perfectly. I requested this one simply because I loved Baby Teeth because it elicited an intense reaction from me. Every time I picked up the book, my stomach would twist in knots. I absolutely needed to know what was going to happen while also being terrified of finding out. As soon as I saw that Zoje Stage had another book coming out, I knew I wanted to read it.

I can say that this book is nowhere near as tense as Baby Teeth. But that’s okay. It’s more of a mystery than anything. A family of four has just moved to upstate NY, to escape the hustle of NYC, to have more time together, and to let the father, Shaw, explore his artistic endeavors. Pretty quickly, the family realizes the weather isn’t quite what they expected. Granted, it’s snowy, but curious things happen during their isolation. This story isn’t just one about being trapped by the elements. As the days go by, the events surrounding the family become progressively more odd.

This book was good, but I didn’t love it. I felt like it dragged in the middle, but one event shook things up, and the book got back on track. I don’t mind a slow burn book with a good ending, but this one was a bit too slow in parts. The parents were a bit obnoxious as well, but there was some great character development by the end. Overall, it was well-written, and I enjoyed it.

Categories
books and reading

Baby Teeth

As much as I love books, I rarely have a physical reaction to them. I read them, I get sucked in, but I rarely have any kind of physical reaction to them, including crying. No matter how tense or horrifying a book is, my brain can usually separate it as fiction and just let it go. This book is the exception. Every time I picked it up, my guts twisted up. I felt myself clenching the book harder in fear of what was going to happen next. I had to read it only in short burst because I had trouble keeping myself calm. Basically, it horrified me to my core.

The story is told in alternating chapters from a mother’s, Suzette, perspective and a daughter’s, Hanna. Suzette is a doting, loving, stay-at-home mom, while the father, Alex, works hard, loves his family deeply, but doesn’t fully see Hanna’s behavior as troublesome. She loves her father and is perfect around him, so there’s a struggle between what Suzette and Alex know about their child. Hanna is a mute 7-year-old with borderline psychotic behavior. And once you learn her internal dialogue, you realize how deeply disturbed she is. As far as we know, Suzette doesn’t do anything to deserve the rage Hanna shows her. And the number of schools Hanna has been kicked out of had every reason to do so.

As the plot unfolds, the tension grows. Hanna comes up with a plan to fully rid herself of her wretched mother, and the results are deeply troubling. I was constantly fearful of Hanna, and as a parent of a 7-year-old myself, I was easily able to put myself into Suzette’s place. What would I do if Hanna were my child? I just can’t even imagine that life, honestly. I was happy to finish this book so I can put it behind me, but Hanna will stay with me for awhile. It is hard to shake the thought of a psychopath 7-year-old.