Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Library Shelf: Mother, Mother

Last Friday night, Chris and I experienced a performance of Patrick Hamilton's play Angel Street (also known as Gaslight), a "Victorian thriller" focused on a woman whose abusive, sociopathic husband is trying to convince her she is losing her mind. Bella Manningham's character, unforgettably played onstage by Michelle Janssens, held us transfixed as she trembled and shrieked, clinging desperately to the reality she wanted to be true.

The next morning, I opened this startling new novel by Koren Zailckas, and was taken by surprise. Mother, Mother, it turns out, is another story of gaslighting and psychological abuse. This gripping contemporary tale, told from the view of two siblings, unfolds in a tone almost too matter-of-fact for a thriller. And I couldn't stop turning the pages!

Anyone concerned about the welfare of children will find food for thought here. Among other things, the book illustrates some very important, but little discussed, points about homeschooling--even including a home visit from Child Protective Services. I don't want to give the plot away, so I'll just say that I found Mother, Mother strangely therapeutic. Some of the characters were people I felt I already knew in real life. Others were people I hope to know, or even to be, some day.

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