“You used to care about me as a person—my happiness, the things that made me thrive. Now I was a service provider. You didn’t see me as a woman. I was just the mother of your child.”
Blythe is determined to be a better mother than her own mother was to her and her grandmother was to her mother. Her and her husband, Fox, have had a fairytale romance from college to real life, gotten married and are now ready to start their family. But when baby Violet comes Blythe is convinced that there is something wrong with her but only her can see it. She finds it very hard to bond with Violet and doesn’t think she is as sweet as everyone seems to think she is. Her husband thinks she’s imagining things and the unspoken thought in his head is that she doesn’t have a maternal instinct because of her situation with her mother. Is it all in Blythe’s head? Are the women in her family just not cut out for motherhood?
“Marriages can float apart. Sometimes we don’t notice how far we’ve gone until all of a sudden, the water meets the horizon and it feels like we’ll never make it back.”
This book is written in the first person narrative. This is Blythe’s version of the story. This story she’s telling us is tense and mysterious and had me at the edge of my seat. Is she a reliable narrative? Are we supposed to believe this insane story she’s telling us? Why is she the only person who feels this way? Even though we’re fully prepped for the tragedy that unfolds in the book, waiting for it felt like torture and when it finally happened my heart absolutely broke for this family. Blythe’s version of events sounds outrageous and insane and after awhile just like her audience, she too starts doubting her memories too.
“Before we were conceived, we existed in part as an egg in our mother’s ovary. All the eggs a woman will ever carry form in her ovaries while she is a four-month-old fetus in the womb of her mother. This means our cellular life as an egg begins in the womb of our grandmother. “
Even though this is a psychological thriller, at its core, this book is about motherhood and all the stress that comes with it but don’t go gifting this book to your friends who are mothers! It’s a raw look at how our society views mothers and how mothers come to see themselves. The way we view women’s bodies as vessels to bring forth life, the way women are rendered invisible still by this amazing and dangerous process and then the way we expect them to perform motherhood for us.
This book is also a multigenerational story. We read about Blythe’s mother, Cecilia and her grandmother, Etta. We read about the different women who have brought her to this point. At some point in the book, Blythe’s mother, Cecilia, tells her that the women in their family aren’t cut out for motherhood but Blythe is determined to forge her own path. This is a very complex portrait of a woman presented to us in her own words and we are asked over and over to judge her sanity. Is she just a product of her childhood, unable to bond with her child? Is she so deep in postpartum depression that she becomes an unreliable narrator in the relationship between her and her daughter? Or are we dismissing her as hysterical because she’s a woman and we don’t trust women in our society?
“we had both morphed into a version of ourselves that didn’t feel as good as had been advertised.”
This book is amazing because it doesn’t matter if you figure out which question is correct. It doesn’t matter if you can decide who to believe. Every possible path available to us is heartbreaking and devastating and the end will knock your wind out regardless. This book is so well written, the author writes with such a clarity that a lot of people will not expect from a thriller. Every character is well explored and never a caricature. Even though the entire book is in first person we see a full picture of everybody involved and somehow know exactly who they are. Audrain writes a riveting and tense drama that documents the terrors of a family disintegrating in the most horrific way possible and this story is going to stay with me for a very long time. There are so many trigger worthy issues in this book, so be warned! I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads. Please read this one and talk to me about it! I’d love to hear your thoughts!