2014 WINNER OF THE ALA ALEX AWARD
Josephine Hurst has her family under control. With two beautiful daughters, a brilliantly intelligent son, a tech-guru of a husband, and a historical landmark home, her life is picture perfect. But living in this matriarch’s determinedly cheerful, yet subtly controlling domain hasn’t been easy for her family, and when her oldest daughter, Rose, runs off with a mysterious boyfriend, Josephine tightens her grip, gradually turning her flawless home into a darker sort of prison.
Resentful of her sister’s newfound freedom, Violet turns to eastern philosophy, hallucinogenic drugs, and extreme fasting, eventually landing herself in a psych ward. Meanwhile, her brother, Will, recently diagnosed with Asperger's, shrinks further into a world of self-doubt. Their father, Douglas, finds resolve in the bottom of a bottle—an addict craving his own chance to escape. Josephine struggles to maintain the family’s impeccable façade, but when a violent incident leads to a visit from child protective services, the truth about the Hursts might finally be revealed.
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This story is related to the reader through two different character outlooks. The outlooks come from two of the children, William and of Josephine, the mother. The author presented a touching very well written novel. Of course, the two children don't see the situation the same way. This allows the reader to see more than one outlook on the story. The author writes this novel in a very different way. She uses language that is very odd when there are serious situations presenting themselves. The language gave a good, different taste of the mental outlooks coming from William and Violet. This book is about a family that has major secrets and differences. It's not just about a dysfunctional family but of a family that has a mother who is way out there, hateful,uncaring person that thinks she has the whole family under control. There are many twists and turns that keep the reader completely hooked on the story. This family is far from the "norm".From page one when William awakes in his bed with his mother standing over him, smiling, you begin to realize she isn't all there. The father couldn't help William since he is an alcoholic and is out of it in the next room. Violet wasn't there either wince she might have gone crazy on William in a fit of rage.When the mother isn't trying to manipulate everything and everybody in the family, the unraveling begins to come to the surface. There was a visit from the Child's Protective Services putting together that the family just isn't hinged together right. Child Services came on the scene when the oldest child, Rose Hurst, ran away. Now, CPS has another problem with this family, violence in the home. The author gets us to the truth when Violet is taken to an insane asylum. The reader begins to figure out who or what Josephine, the mother is. The truthful evidence comes to the surface from William who is mother's only person of loyalty. Dysfunction is not the only problem with this family. We have a real problem and threat in the sociopath mother. The mother is always the one who is the victim and she thinks of her public image constantly. Who cares other than her? She should have been taking care of her family and household. But, as it often is, she is one of those mothers who should never have been a mother. Children that are torn in many different ways. They not only are torn apart from their parents but each other, too. Josephine is one of those people who always thinks, no matter what she does, someone will come to her rescue. She thinks she never has to take responsibility for her actions. Perhaps she doesn't really think she is wrong. Now, we as the readers, know that isn't true, but does Josephine?
It's hard to put real blame on the father or the mother. Which is really worse? The father who originally placed his family in a flawed world? The mother, well the mother is beyond words. William was his mother's servant, wrong as it may be, but he didn't ask to be born into this family. Poor William, so confused, he thinks he has all of these afflictions that have been placed on him by his mother just to keep control of him. The author took each character and described them to a "T". She wrote a dark, evil, psychological suspense novel that you may not forget soon. She shows that families take hard, hard work to make things half ways right. Mothers and fathers aren't perfect just because they have children. The sad thing is, the children often pick up these flaws and the flaws continue from generation to generation. The surface image, once ripped away, may disclose things we don't want to know about.
I would give this book 4 STARS.
KOREN ZAILCKAS is an internationally bestselling writer, and has contributed to The Guardian, U.S. News & World Report, Glamour, Jane, and Seventeen magazine. She currently lives with her family in the Catskill mountains of New York.
- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (July 8, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385347251
- ISBN-13: 978-0385347259