Whoa, Mama!

Original publish date: 15 August 2014

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
Mother/child relationships are tricky things and could easily border on weird or creepy, particularly from an outsider’s point of view. I know that I wasn’t always on the best terms with my mom. Sometimes a mother is too smothering. Sometimes she’s too aloof. Rarely is a mother exactly what you need: an ally and a friend. Koren Zailckas’s novel Mother, Mother explores the relationship dynamics of a mother with her 12 year old autistic son and 16 year old rebellious daughter.

William Hurst is homeschooled by his mother, Josephine, because he has been diagnosed as autistic and has epileptic seizures. Violet is rebelling against her family through drugs, Buddhist practices, and her vegetarian diet. The patriarch of this merry band of people is alcoholic Douglas. The eldest daughter, Rose, is, however, absent from the family and Josephine seems to blame everything on Rose’s disobedience and abandonment of her family. When Violet attacks Will with a kitchen knife and Will winds up with wounds on his hands, Violet is admitted to a psychiatric emergency room, which gives her plenty of time to think about her life and her mother.

The story is told from alternating chapters of close 3rd person of Will and Violet, which provides a more comprehensive view of Josephine through the eyes of her two children. The chapters were relatively short, which kept the pacing rather quick, which added to the captivating aspect of the psychological component of the story. There were a few instances of copy editing needed for typos, but it wasn’t too prevalent an issue, which is probably why it so drastically caught my attention when I did see those issues.

And let me say that dysfunctional family does NOT begin to cover just how incredibly screwed up their family dynamics are. It makes for an incredibly disturbing yet fascinating read because it’s not MY family but there are portions that I could still identify with. The controlling relationship that Josephine has with her children, particularly Will, had me thinking of Norman Bates and his relationship with his mother and if you’re at all fascinated by that, then definitely read this.

Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars. 

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