Mothered: A Novel <— A psych-thriller by an author I’ve read before? YES PLEASE!! And yet… another creepy kid in the mix. I liked it!! When I saw the sort of… mediocre rating average it had, I wasn’t expecting much (though I hadn’t read any of the reviews as I wanted to go in blind). I figured, ehhh why not? I liked her book “Baby Teeth” so I was curious. P.S. Here’s my review of “Baby Teeth” in case you missed it.
Sure enough, the writing style, the flow, and the main character’s POV was interesting enough to keep me reading. I loved “living life” through her eyes. Life during a pandemic, and lockdown, and all of the insecurities that go along with it… plus, a new roommate (her mother!!). One she has a strained relationship with. OH YES. I was in!
I guess you can call her an unreliable narrator for sure, but I love those, ’cause I can’t tell what’s real, or imagined. Is someone just devious enough to create upheaval in our main character’s life? Forcing the main character to make rash decisions, discombobulating them, and lashing out? Or is it all in her head? Who’s the enemy here?
So what’s it about?
Grace is finally getting her life in perfect order (just bought herself a cute house, set up her home office), works in a great hair salon, has a supportive and fun best friend (Miguel), and is not suffering from any romantic entanglements. She’s solid, independent, and really happy.
So when the pandemic hits, and everyone goes into lock down, Grace unfortunately loses her job, and thinks about getting a roommate to supplement her lack of income. Then her mom calls, having the same needs and suggests that she move in with her and pay for half of everything.
“We’d have to establish boundaries,” Grace heard herself say. Her alter egos reared up in protest, Stop! Don’t you realize what’s about to happen? Without explicitly saying it, Grace had opened the door.
“Of course, I understand it’s your house.” Jackie sounded relieved now, and excited. As a child Grace had known her mother to have one mood—cranky. Grace wasn’t sure she was prepared for this more mercurial, less predictable phase of Jackie’s life.
“This will be good for us—it’s been a long time, and we’re both adults now.”
Grace wasn’t sure how to take that. She always heard rebukes in her mother’s words, and in the silent spaces too. Could Jackie possibly be implying that the problems they’d had while Grace was growing up were due to her age? Some inexcusable lack of maturity that ignored the reality of her having been an honest-to-god child? Jackie had always hated being a mother, at least that’s how Grace remembered it.
“We’ll be equals, roommates,” she said, trying to imagine them both in new roles. “Considerate of each other’s space and needs.”
While her mother seems sincere and apologetic (her mother was always cold to her, their relationship contentious), something seems to have changed, and softened her. It seems like a perfect arrangement, but Grace is not sure having her directly in her life again is not going to do more damage than good, potentially undoing all of her personal healing.
In many ways there was a demarcation between life Before her mother left and After—and her life was good in the After.
And now her mother was coming back.
And she’s losing her much-appreciated privacy.
Grace envisioned a lot of closed doors in her future. Living alone, she never thought about needing privacy as she sat on the toilet or closing her bedroom door as she dressed or slept. She shuddered at the thought of such changes, suddenly claustrophobic in her nearly furnitureless room.
But they give it a go. 😉
As their days and nights intertwine, and their lives merge once again,
It took everything Grace had not to lash out. Her mother wasn’t doing anything wrong; she was doing exactly what everyone did after a long day. Relaxing. Snacking. (Had Jackie had a long day?) But it was Grace’s living room, Grace’s popcorn, Grace’s favorite fuzzy cushion tucked in her mother’s armpit.
…we go back and forth in time to when Grace was a young girl. Reliving her life with her disabled twin sister (who’s now dead)
Everyone who saw Hope in photos remarked on how happy she looked. She appeared to be grinning almost all the time, though Grace knew the darker side of her sister’s personality. The smile on Hope’s face was an unavoidable contortion, not constant happiness. And when her glee was intentional, it had usually meant trouble.
…and their critical mother,
Everything Hope did was special. Nothing Grace did was special enough.
…and the incredible nightmares (or are they memories? Or are they real life things happening right now?) she’s having all over again. Strange things happening in her current life that has her questioning everything.
There were reasons Grace kept Hope out of sight and out of mind, and she hadn’t dreamed about her sister in years, not even during the early days of the pandemic.
It will have you questioning everything too. If you like this kind of “domestic thriller” stuff (family issues & creepy children and full on mind f*cks) I think this is a fun, lazy weekend read. Lots of real life things that we all went through when the world closed down, completely relatable. And very claustrophobic. Everyone on edge and stressed, for good reason.
But… in Grace’s case, maybe other reasons too.
4 stars <— I didn’t devour it in one day, but it was good enough for me to be excited about picking it back up. I had all the thrilled-out emotions (sometimes incensed, and confused, almost feeling like I WAS the main character… and super on edge throughout). I love when that happens, and that’s what held me. Wanting justice and clarity for our main character, and I was dying to know how it was going to end.
➔➔➔ Looking for more of my must-read recommendations? Browse my 5 star and 4.5 star and 4 star reviews. 😀
➔➔➔ Love this genre? Check out more of my dystopian and/or psychological thrillers features and reviews on my blog!