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I should warn you. This book will get in your head. Sometimes, when I’m reading a book, I will get completely involved in a story. When I set the book down I have to remind myself that I’m back in real life. Sometimes when I read a book, I have to tell myself, “No, Stephanie, magical witches are not time traveling right now.” This time, I kept having to say “Stephanie, you don’t have a psychopath for a kid.” I know that’s totally weird, but books have a way with me. I love it, and I hate it.
This was one of those where I could just put myself right in the head of that mom thinking I had a crazy psychotic child. I hate admitting that. It makes me feel like I’m crazy.
This is the story about Suzette, a mom who suffers from Crohn’s Disease who is realizing that her daughter, Hanna, might just be a psychopath who wants to hurt or even kill her. Hanna is 7 years old, and it appears she is mute. Her mother senses that something is just off with her. They go to specialist after specialist for tests to see why she doesn’t talk. And then, Hanna only lasts just a few weeks or days in every expensive school her parents try.
Her mother sees her odd and often bad behavior like when Hanna barks viciously at administrators at schools they visit. Or, she hits other children when she’s pretending to be nice, like with a toddler in a grocery store.
However, her father sees none of it and just can’t believe his sweet precious girl is behaving these ways. He doesn’t believe it when Suzette tells him. He doesn’t believe it when the teachers and administrators tell him.
Why would you not trust your own wife? She doesn’t seem to have a history of lying, so why would he so easily discount her stories about their child? She is the one who is home with her every single day. Plus, at one point Hanna does something to her mother’s appearance that is unmistakable, yet the father just laughs it off.
I felt parts were a bit too unreal in this book, like the husband in denial. Also while Hanna is precocious, there are things clearly a 7 year old can’t do well that she does, like dump out mommy’s medicine capsules and replace the medicine with flour. I had to undo some capsules today to hide the medicine in some food for my daughter, and I squished every last one of those capsules.
Hanna acts like the perfect daughter when her dad’s around. But then, her anger towards her mother gets the best of her, and things finally escalate. The father finally believes his wife after she sadly has real injuries to prove it.
I read a lot of reviews about this book before I started reading it. What seems strange to me is that people were all talking about Hanna and how she’s a crazy psychopathic little girl, but I never really saw anyone mention the mother.
Throughout the story, it seems like the author is leaving little hints and clues that Suzette is not that dissimilar to her own daughter. She remembers laying next to her mom and not wanting to be touched or cuddled. There are other tidbits like that, that made me think that maybe the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
Most of all, Suzette seems completely annoyed that she’s even a mother. Maybe she feels this way because her daughter is not the sweet little girl she imagined she’d have. I could understand a secret regret you might harbor if your child is not turning out how you expected, especially if they are violent, and you are just at your wit’s end. But, it seems more than that. Suzette constantly whines to herself about her Crohn’s disease and how her own mother didn’t care about her and her disease. And, she’s always thinking about the loss of her relationship with her husband before Hanna came.
There aren’t really any twists or unexpected things to this story. It’s no spoiler that they eventually place Hanna in a mental facility for children like her. But, they both seem so relieved to go back to their relationship from before they became parents — that bothered me a bit. At one point, they go to her bedroom door, look around, and shut it as if to say “we tried this parenting thing. It didn’t work out. Now let’s move on.” I’m not sure I could ever get to that point.
This was a dark read and though there were no unexpected twists, I didn’t want to put it down. The ending seemed to set up a second book, so I’m curious to see if that will happen.
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