Michael Joseph | 7 January 2021 | 320 pgs
Source: Purchased 

For starters, it's hard to read this book, let alone writing my thoughts. The story is dark and unsettling; yet one couldn't avoid looking at some of the issues raised.

As a girl, Blythe Connor is raised lacking warmth and attention from her mother, Cecilia. Now that she'd grown up and married, she's aiming to be a woman unlike her mother and most importantly, she doesn't want sad history to repeat itself. After Violet is born, she makes sure she gives enough love and attention to Violet. She's sure nothing would go wrong if she's doing all the right things to her first child and hopefully, Violet would grow up to be a happy and healthy girl unlike her unhappy past. 

As the days go by, Blythe soon notices that there's something about Violet that she can't put her finger on it. Her husband, Fox, thinks otherwise and believes that Blythe is either imagining things or motherhood is tiring her out. As Blythe thinks about Violet's characteristics, she also couldn't help wondering about her childhood life as well as the mental wellness and upbringing of the women in her family heritage. Her grandmother, Etta, suffered from mental illness and as a result, Cecilia was raised without much mother's love and this in turn, affects Blythe’s life growing up. Blythe begins questioning herself if she's following the path of the women of her family generations - that they couldn't and didn't have the capacity of filling the role of a mother. Or perhaps as what she fears, there's really something wrong with Violet? 

Unreliable narrator. Motherhood. Nature versus nurture. These are the few elements that nudged at my mind as I read the book and the more I read, I felt a sense of dread, unease and sorrow as well. Blythe was a complex character; and of course this extends to Violet as well as I didn't know what's really in that little mind of hers. Is she capable of doing bad things, or if genes and characteristics could pass down from generations, affecting one's role of being a mother? And then, there's the issues of expectations and stereotypical role as a mother. How do one look at motherhood and is there even a right or wrong way of bringing up a child? 

There's so much to talk about this book and I could see why there's so much hype surrounding it when it was released. Perhaps it's just me, but I didn't quite like the storytelling style which was written in second person narrative. Although there's some interpretations of Cecilia's life in between chapters, there's no indication of what's past and present though to the author's credit, it wasn't hard to figure so it's simply a personal view/preference. Overall it was a thought-provoking read and I could see this as a good fit for discussions. 
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11 Responses
  1. This one kept me engaged on my walks earlier this year. Glad you had a chance to try it.

  2. Melody Says:

    Diane - This was definitely different from the other books I read but I don't regret reading it. The topics definitely had me thinking and I'll be curious what the author will write for her next book.

  3. Lark Says:

    This does sound like it'd make an interesting book club book, but being such an unsettling read probably not one I'll be picking up any time soon.

  4. Susan Says:

    Interesting. The premise sounds intriguing, but I'm not sure I'd really like this one. Thanks for the review!

  5. jenclair Says:

    Sounds interesting, and I can't help but think of The Bad Seed by William March--which was seriously scary.

  6. jenclair Says:

    Oh, and I got your postcard! :)

  7. Melody Says:

    Lark - I think this is not a book for everyone. I thought it's something different from my usual reads but it was a bit unsettling.

  8. Melody Says:

    Susan - I think this is a book which you either love it or hate it. I don't hate it but I don't love it either.

  9. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - Now I'm curious about The Bad Seed. Glad you got my postcard! :)

  10. Iliana Says:

    Great review, Melody! I've been a bit on the fence on this one because it reminds me of another book I read, Baby Teeth. Actually didn't you read that one too? Anyway will probably check it out one of these days!

  11. Melody Says:

    Iliana - Thanks, Iliana! Now that you've mentioned Baby Teeth, I think both books do have some similar vibes. I'll be curious of your thoughts if you do read this, Iliana.

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