Blythe never wanted to be a mother. But, she is convinced by her husband and has a daughter. The problem is, she feels no loves towards her and instead comes to believe that something is very wrong with her daughter. Though her husband dismisses her concerns, her fears about her daughter become even more intense after she gives birth to a son whom she instantly loves. Is something really wrong with her daughter, or is something wrong with Blythe herself?
I stepped outside of my normal reading patterns for this book, and I am so glad that I did. It’s a dark, compelling work of psychological suspense, balancing the tension of the main plot with heartwrenching stories of three generations of motherhood. The women in Blythe’s family have never been good mothers. Her grandmother was living with depression and was incredibly abusive to Blythe’s mother, and Blythe’s mother was inattentive and neglectful before finally abandoning her family when Blythe was young. With this painful history, it is easy to see why Blythe worries over motherhood, which helps to keep the reader guessing about what is happening with Blythe’s daughter, Violet.
From her birth, Blythe feels there is something fundamentally wrong with Violet while her husband believes that the baby is an angel and that Blythe just doesn’t love the child enough. Over the years, we see glimpses of behavior that seem to show a lack of empathy in Violet. However, the book is told from Blythe’s perspective, so it’s hard to know if something really is wrong, or if she’s influenced by her own past. The ultimate unreliable narrator! When the family experiences a heartbreaking tragedy, the suspense is ratcheted up even higher. As we see Blythe and her husband’s relationship decline and Blythe makes some questionable decisions, we question which side has the situation right.
The book is incredibly well written with fast pacing, a nonlinear plot, and fascinating characters. I thought the ending was explosive and I could not stop thinking about the story long after I closed the book. It shows an incredibly dark side of motherhood that is not present in most narratives. As someone who doesn’t want kids, I enjoyed the story, but I could see how it might be harrowing for readers who have or want children. If you do want children, proceed with caution, as this book may feel a little intense. Otherwise, I really recommend picking up this dark, gripping story.
CW: Abuse, death, suicide, murder, death of a child