Stage’s deviously fun debut takes child-rearing anxiety to demented new heights. Frustrated and fragile stay-at-home mom Suzette and seven-year-old Hanna alternately narrate a cascade of crises stemming from Hanna’s near-total refusal to speak, her mistrust of her mom and adoration of her dad, and the parents’ frantic attempts to find a solution to Hanna’s increasingly dangerous tantrums. From Hanna’s perspective, Suzette is the only thing standing in the way of the complete devotion of her father, Alex, and she plots ways to “step up her game against Mommy.” For Suzette, her love-starved relationship with a distant mother and chronic Crohn’s haunt every attempt to bond with a little girl who barks like a “feral animal” and only speaks as a 17th-century girl named Marie-Anne Dufosset, who was burned at the stake for suspected witchcraft. For the besieged Suzette, there’s also a troubling ambivalence about whether she wants to save or kill her disturbed child. Stage expertly crafts this creepy, can’t-put-it-down thriller into a fearless exploration of parenting and marriage that finds the cracks in unconditional love. 100,000-copy announced first printing. Agent: Sarah Bedingfield, Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency. (July)
Reviewed on: 04/16/2018 Release date: 07/17/2018 Genre: Fiction
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