Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage
Published: July 17, 2018 by St. Martin’s Press
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She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.
She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette’s husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.
Review: This is one of those books that as soon as you read the synopsis, you know exactly what book this is. You will have an evil child that is trying to kill her mother. You will have a useless father who lets it go on. And it will end in a violent mess. You know it, I know it and we read to see how depraved it can get.
WARNING: Potential mild spoilers. Nothing directly plot related, but some character descriptions might give you some hints.
This book was a mixture of both good and bad. That narrative was quite engaging. I found that the pages seemed to fly through my fingers and I was very entertained by the story. But, I didn’t actually like anyone in this book and only felt sympathy for Hanna. Suzette was annoying and frankly, I never got the sense that she actually loved Hanna at all. This was confirmed for me at the end, she loved the idea of having a child but when her child ended up troubled then she disconnected entirely. Alex was the most useless excuse for a spouse or father that I’ve ever seen. Not only did he completely cater to his child’s every whim but he blatantly refused to believe from ANYONE that his child was exhibiting troubling behavior. Not his wife, not the school, not the therapist. If my husband blatantly refused to believe me when I commented on our child’s behavior while he was gone, I wouldn’t stick around for long.
I felt really bad for Hanna in the end. Her troubles weren’t her fault. They weren’t even anything she was aware of for the most part. And since she’d spent her entire life being pampered and told how perfect she is then no wonder she indulged her violent whims. I also don’t understand how her parents weren’t more troubled by the fact that she refused to speak at 7 years old? They determined long before then that it wasn’t a medical problem, which leaves a psychological one. Why was this child not seeing a child therapist to deal with the reasons she was choosing not to speak? Why were her parents content to just let her behavior spiral out of control without intervention? It was really frustrating and broke my heart for Hanna.
The ending was not quite the blood bath I had been expecting based on how the novel was proceeding. I also felt like it wasn’t much of a resolution. We leave the characters almost exactly where we started with them. It felt a little bit pointless. I liked the plot and enjoyed myself all the way through but only to be left without any concrete resolution. But maybe that was the point. That this situation is not fixable and eventually there’s the likelihood that the whole cycle will repeat itself. I would definitely read more by this author, even though I wasn’t crazy about this book. I do like the way she writes.