Title: Baby Teeth
Author: Zoje Stage
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: July 17, 2018
Page Count: 320
My rating: 4 stars
About the book:
A battle of wills between mother and daughter reveals the frailty and falsehood of familial bonds in award-winning playwright and filmmaker Zoje Stage’s tense novel of psychological suspense, Baby Teeth.
Afflicted with a chronic debilitating condition, Suzette Jensen knew having children would wreak havoc on her already fragile body. Nevertheless, she brought Hanna into the world, pleased and proud to start a family with her husband Alex. Estranged from her own mother, Suzette is determined to raise her beautiful daughter with the love, care, and support she was denied.
But Hanna proves to be a difficult child. Now seven-years-old, she has yet to utter a word, despite being able to read and write. Defiant and anti-social, she refuses to behave in kindergarten classes, forcing Suzette to homeschool her. Resentful of her mother’s rules and attentions, Hanna lashes out in anger, becoming more aggressive every day. The only time Hanna is truly happy is when she’s with her father. To Alex, she’s willful and precocious but otherwise the perfect little girl, doing what she’s told.
Suzette knows her clever and manipulative daughter doesn’t love her. She can see the hatred and jealousy in her eyes. And as Hanna’s subtle acts of cruelty threaten to tear her and Alex apart, Suzette fears her very life may be in grave danger…
Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage is on the edge of being a thriller or a horror novel. It’s not one that is going to give a reader whiplash with too many twists or turns but a more straightforward on the edge of your seat wait to see just how far will the characters go type of read.
This is the story of a seven year old little girl named Hannah who really loves her Daddy, perhaps even a bit too much. Hannah’s feelings about her Mommy on the other hand are not too nice at all. Mommy is the barrier between Hannah having all of her Daddy’s love to herself so Mommy needs to go.
The story changes the point of view between Hannah and her mother, Suzette, with each chapter that goes by as readers get to know them both better and just what goes on between them and their thoughts. Up until this point Hannah has been non-verbal so her parents have tried and tried to do what is right for her but Suzette is at her wits end at the point we join their tale.
I have to say I’ve seen a lot of reviews on this title already when it’s not even out yet and it seems to be one that is a bit hit or miss with readers. For me I actually became quite engrossed with the book and waiting to see what would happen with a part of me thinking that there are probably parents/children out there that may mirror this family in real life. Not that I expect a specific child to go to Hannah’s extremes but I know there are children that act up for one parent and not the other and in the day and age of kids picking up guns to solve their issues it’s obvious there are problems that exist in the world so Hannah took on a whole new light while reading for me. I always enjoy a book that gets me to thinking and this one did that as I asked myself various questions on what would/could be done, what if I were in that situation and many others. When finished I would definitely recommend checking it out.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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About the author:
An author of dark and suspenseful novels, Zoje Stage lives in Pittsburgh, PA. BABY TEETH is her first novel.