Saturday, July 14, 2018

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Expected publication: July 17, 2018
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Sweetness can be deceptive.

Meet Hanna.

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.

Meet Suzette.


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.
Mommy sounded like a robot who was about to overheat. It almost made Hannah laugh, imagining her frozen in place as wisps of smoke trailed from her ears. She'd start to melt from the inside and collapse onto her knees, eyes wide and dazed, as brain matter dripped from her nose.
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Also, the quote I used may have changed or been altered in some way, but I am quoting from what I received.

I think this might be one of the most disturbing books I've ever read. It doesn't help that as a mother I kept trying to put myself in Suzette's shoes--shoes no parent should ever have to be in. I don't know how she maintained her sanity for so long. It was clear from the beginning that she was alone in a battle against a very vengeful seven-year-old.

Suzette's husband and Hanna's father, Alex, was both loving and supportive. He tried to treat the women in his life equally, but he was unaware of what went on while he was at work. Hanna made sure she was nothing but sweet and amenable while he was around, but that was only to discredit anything her mother might say. Alex should have trusted his wife more, and maybe things wouldn't have gotten so out of hand. I know it's hard to believe the worst about your child, but when her mother and various teachers all say Hanna behaves a certain way, it shouldn't be too hard to find the problem. However, Alex is endlessly in favor of his child. A child that has chosen not to speak for seven years just to (partially) torment people.

I had a lot of issues with Hanna's character. I understand most of them are intentional, but there were other small things that stood out. For example, Hanna is seven, but she thinks like a much older child. I tried to imagine my own child (he's four) saying those things, but it's not something I could even picture in my head. There was something wrong with Hanna on a fundamental level, and she needed help that her parents couldn't provide. Meanwhile, the relationship between mother and daughter became strained and even dangerous.

Honestly, I have no idea what I would do in Suzette's situation. On the one hand, I would want to be the best mother to my child. I would always look for redeeming qualities, or ways that maybe I could change to be a better influence. It would take me awhile to ask for help and admit that there was something wrong, but I don't think I would ever let it get dangerous. I also know my husband wouldn't brush off my concerns and accuse me overreacting. He trusts me enough to know that I wouldn't joke about something as series as our child's mental stability.

In the end, all of this could have been resolved a lot faster if Suzette had been able to prove that Hanna was one way with her, and another with her father. So my questions is... why didn't she just put a camera in her house that Hanna was unaware of? Then she'd have proof that Hanna was behaving like a psychopath, and it wouldn't be her word against her daughter's. Suzette may have been out of her element regarding her child's issues, but she was still the adult, and I feel like there were a lot of ways she could have kept things from escalating the way they did. 

18 comments:

  1. Dang! This one sounds creepy and I’ve been looking forward to it but it sounds like lazy writing. Of course the mother should have put a camera up somewhere to show how the daughter was acting and seriously? The husband just brushes her stories aside? If you’re going to write a book like this it needs to be more fleshed out. Sigh! Now I don’t want to read it.

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    1. A camera was my first thought! She could have put one up at their house, or worn one on her person. (I would also think the fancy private schools would have had cameras somewhere on the premises to validate their claims.) I just feel like a seven-year-old should not have the upper hand, and Hanna always seemed to be in control of her surroundings. She hit another child and the father didn't believe the mother, or thought that maybe there was some reason his daughter was lashing out. I completely understood Suzette's frustrations, but that doesn't excuse her lack of forethought when it came to proving her daughter was a monster.

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  2. This is why I don't usually like kids in books. They make them sound and act much older than they are and it's not believable. It does sound like this kid is a psychopath and you're right, install a secret camera.

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    1. Right? A camera would have solved everyone's problems.

      I don't normally mind kids in books, but it's hard when they play such a major role. I always have certain expectations, and even the smallest details are important for authenticity. Hanna was definitely disturbed and mentally ill, but her thoughts and word choices seemed a little advanced for her age.

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  3. I think I would've been very disturbed by this too! Also, I'd wonder the same thing, why not film the interactions? Although, then there probably wouldn't be much of a plot, lol. I think most reasonable husbands would believe their wives too. :)

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    1. This is true! A camera would have ruined this plot, because it's mostly Hanna trying to cause a divide between her parents, but I think there could have been a different plot! Maybe the DO realize what Hanna is trying to do, so they're able to find help sooner, or the book starts with her doing something crazy... I don't know. It was definitely creeptastic, if that's what you're looking for! :)

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  4. Wow that kid sounds like a mess ha ha! And that quote... dang! She's nasty! She does sound a little unrealistic though, and the dad... yeah wake up dude! And the camera thing... yeah that would've helped lol.

    I can't wait to read it!

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    1. The camera thing bugged me because that was my first thought when I realized Hanna was trying to cause problems between her parents. However, Alex should have trusted his wife even without physical proof. She had no reason to lie to her husband, never had before, so it didn't make sense for him to question her.

      That was just one of many creepy quotes, lol.

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  5. I always avoid books where young kids are the main part of the story or we get things from their side. I just don't like kids!

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    1. It's different when young kids are part of the story, and when young kids are telling the story... like most MG books are told from a child's perspective, and I've enjoyed the majority of the ones I've read. However, adult books that have children playing prominent roles can be hit or miss with me. It just depends on the story.

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  6. I've been seeing this one around a lot lately, and it sounds very creepy! I don't like when kids in books aren't written well and act and speak much older than they are.

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    1. I felt like Hanna was having the thoughts an evil teenager might have, and not thoughts a psychotic seven-year-old would have. I know they mention her being smart and advanced, but it didn't always feel authentic.

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  7. Omg I neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed to read Kiss!!!

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    1. Kiss? I think you commented on the wrong blog post, lol. There was very little kissing in this book, more murderous thoughts and actions, but I did mention The Kiss Quotient in the post after this one. ;)

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  8. I wondered about the camera thing when I read this too. It definitely would have at least solved the problem of the mom's word vs. Hanna's word. Man, Hanna was such a nightmare though. I bet this would make for a cool horror film.

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    1. I rarely watch scary movies, but I'll occasionally pick up a book with a creepy synopsis. Baby Teeth was definitely disturbing, but I had a few issues with the characters. A camera would have been an easy fix for some of the problems, and I wouldn't have waited until Hanna was seven to start seeking other answers.

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  9. Wow, this book sounds really interesting. Too bad that you found those flaws, though - those would likely bug me a lot while reading, but maybe I'll still try picking it up...

    --Sam @ Sharing Inspired Kreations

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    1. It was a really interesting concept, but I was frustrated by some of the things the characters did or didn't do. You should try it for yourself and see if it's a better fit! :)

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