Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage
Seven year old Hanna has never spoken a word. Hanna adores her father, Alex and in his eyes she is a silent angel. But things are different with her mother, Suzette who she mistrusts and holds deep hatred for. Hanna believes that if her mother would disappear, Alex would devote his life to her, so she embarks on a plan of her own making.
Hanna's deceptive behaviour becomes increasingly dangerous, from tampering with her mother's daily medication to setting her on fire. When Suzette tells her husband of their daughter's behaviour, she receives little sympathy. Clearly something is seriously wrong with their little girl, but why can't Alex see it too?
When Hanna finally breaks her silence and speaks for the first time to Suzette alone, she channels a 17th century French girl who was burned at the stake for witchcraft. Maybe she was joking or is it something more sinister? Frightened by her daughter's violent behaviour and frustrated at her husband's disbelief, Suzette attempts to save her daughter. Meanwhile, she seriously questions herself as a parent as she tries to manage Crohns disease which is largely invisible to those around her. Can Hanna and Suzette's mother-daughter bond be repaired? Or did it ever exist?
Author Zoje Stage takes parenting anxiety to new heights in this chilling novel as mother and daughter alternately narrate their lives. This unputdownable suspense thriller explores modern parenting, maternal judgement, marriage and unconditional love. Zoje cleverly creates tension between Hanna's motivations, Suzette's truth and Alex's acceptance.
Zoje Stage lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Baby Teeth is her first novel.
Reviewer: Andrea Molloy
Bantam Press, RRP $37.00