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Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage
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Baby Teeth

by Zoje Stage

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3446647,329 (3.56)5

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“The Bad Seed” this book is not. If you were looking for that turn around. This book was meh… It is written in alternating chapters with the mother Suzette and the child Hanna. That part I liked. So my issue with this book, Hanna’s thoughts and words were not alined with a 9 year old. More of a 19 year old. Suzette got on my nerves, Hanna only speaks to her and not to her father and when she does speak it’s rude and hateful or just a lot of howling. Suzette is always trying to convince her husband that Hanna can talk. OK, my beef is that this book is set in the time of cell phones, recording devices and video. Take a G.D. video of the episode. Honestly I think I yelled at her a lot about doing this one simple thing and proof would be had. That’s all I have to say on this book. ( )
  greergreer | Mar 1, 2019 |
Ugh. Pretty soon into this I knew I wasn't going to be a fan, but I finished it. I wanted to know how it would play through and resolve. Without spoilers:

This is the story of a very bright, but psychopathic little girl who manipulates her father and behaves in increasingly menacing ways towards her mother.

Trained adults - school teachers, administrators, even a behavioral therapist - recognize the threat this child represents to those around her, but there is little societal support for or understanding of a young child who is truly a danger to those around her.

Though neither thriller or mystery in the traditional sense, this is a quick, well-paced read that rocks along. The plot is intriguing, if disturbing, which is right up my alley. It's a narrative more in keeping with movies like The Bad Seed or The Good Son than, say, The Omen and unfolds with alternating perspective of the daughter and mother. A few 'buts'...

This child is, like, 7 and the way she 'thinks,' the maliciousness and calculation involved in her plans to harm her mother (or others) are of a sort that are so unbelievable and un-childlike as to be distracting. Then the author throws in some "baby" talk like 'squiggly-wiggly' as if that makes her more age-appropriate and realistic a character. Spoiler: it does not.

Cases in point, a few scare tactics she employs intentionally to terrify her mother: pretending to be 'possessed' by the spirit of a French witch who was burned at the stake, including speaking fluent French; knowing what accelerant is and does (huh?), and simulating sex and orgasm pretending to be raped by Satan himself, the medicine tampering.

I realize that these are presented as evidence that this child isn't right and intended to dial up the tension, but they are so far-fetched that they're cross the line of absurdity and unbelievability. The book seems to be trying for moral ambiguity, but finding even the remotest amount of sympathy for this child was...difficult. I found myself rooting for the mother to abandon her husband and daughter.

The actual underlying debate - what should be done with/for, who should be responsible for psychopathic kids - is interesting, but requires far more nuance and depth than this book delivers.

The ending is intentionally ambiguous which is a nice touch--some will see optimism; others continued manipulation. ( )
  angiestahl | Feb 7, 2019 |
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I was excited to receive this copy due to all the advance publicity, but as I read it, I was quite dismayed that the evil person in the book was a 7-year old child who was jealous of her mother.
I don't feel the book gave enough background as to why Hanna, the child, behaved the way she did. By all accounts, Suzette was a loving, attentive mother to Hanna. I understand that Hanna craved her father's attention, but the book never explained why Hanna had such hatred of her mother, especially since her mother did so much for Hanna.
I just don't believe that children are born with an evil streak. This book was very creepy.
Perhaps because it was an ARC, there were several places where the setting would jump to a different time and/or place without any segue. That was odd, and perhaps needs some additional editing.

#BabyTeeth #ZojeStage #NetGalley #StMartinsPress ( )
  rmarcin | Jan 22, 2019 |
This one didn't do it for me. ( )
  Sharn | Jan 3, 2019 |
4.5 ⭐️
You can also find this review on my blog.
disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. All of the opinions presented below are my own.

I skimmed through Goodreads reviews before writing mine and it seems like this is a very divisive book. The average rating isn’t bad, but there are a lot of 1-2 star reviews out there, and the writers seem livid about this book. As you can see above, I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum. I picked this one up because I love psychological thrillers, and I was really intrigued by the concept and I thought that Zoje Stage followed through remarkably.

Hanna and Suzette are the main characters of this story, and I felt that the author did a great job of bringing them to life. Suzette is dealing with Crohn’s (this is an ownvoices book!), as well as her psychotic daughter who gaslights her at every turn and you have to feel empathetic for her. I could just feel the exhaustion pouring out of her as she struggled with her day-to-day tasks. It wasn’t long before I felt like I wanted Hanna off my hands, too.

The thing is, even though I know that the things this kid does is wrong and even though I want Suzette’s life to turn around, Zoje also makes us feel sympathetic for Hanna. I could understand the simplistic thought processes that led her to hate her mother, and I longed for her to realize that she was wrong. This isn’t a black-and-white story where the child is irredeemably horrible for no reason, it really deals with the subjectivity of actions and morality.

Overall, I found it to be a pretty enjoyable read. I got through it quickly and found myself thinking about it when I wasn’t reading.I was satisfied by most of the ending, but didn’t love the very last bit of it. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who likes creepy kids and disturbing stories. ( )
  samesfoley | Dec 26, 2018 |
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For my dad, John Stage.
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Maybe the machine could see the words she never spoke.
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Afflicted with a chronic debilitating condition, Suzette Jensen knew having children would wreak havoc on her already fragile body. Nevertheless, she brought Hanna into the world, pleased and proud to start a family with her husband Alex. Estranged from her own mother, Suzette is determined to raise her beautiful daughter with the love, care, and support she was denied. But Hanna proves to be a difficult child. Now seven-years-old, she has yet to utter a word, despite being able to read and write. Defiant and anti-social, she refuses to behave in kindergarten classes, forcing Suzette to homeschool her. Resentful of her mother's rules and attentions, Hanna lashes out in anger, becoming more aggressive every day. The only time Hanna is truly happy is when she's with her father. To Alex, she's willful and precocious but otherwise the perfect little girl, doing what she's told. Suzette knows her clever and manipulative daughter doesn't love her. She can see the hatred and jealousy in her eyes. And as Hanna's subtle acts of cruelty threaten to tear her and Alex apart, Suzette fears her very life may be in grave danger...--Amazon.com.… (more)

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