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Mother, Mother

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  6,224 ratings  ·  889 reviews
From Koren Zailckas, author of the iconic memoir SMASHED: an electrifying debut novel about a family being torn apart by the woman who claims to love them most
Josephine Hurst has her family under control. With two beautiful daughters, a brilliantly intelligent son, a tech-guru of a husband and a historical landmark home, her life is picture perfect. She has everything she
Paperback, 363 pages
Published July 8th 2014 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Khadijah M. In my opinion, the start was pretty dull. I hadn't finish the book but decided to reread the whole book from the beginning till the end. And boy was i…moreIn my opinion, the start was pretty dull. I hadn't finish the book but decided to reread the whole book from the beginning till the end. And boy was it chilling. This book was full of suspense, if you're looking for a spine-tingling thriller, you got it. Totally worth the read; about a terrible person Violet calls "Mother". (less)
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Average rating 3.68  · 
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Wow. What a book! I'm glad Josephine Hurst isn't my mother. Jeez. The lengths a mother will go to gloss over the ugly truth about her emotionally-wounded, decaying family. I loved the alternating point-of-views from Violet and William Hurst. I felt a lot of empathy for them. Such a toxic family but what a thrilling, page-turning, well-written story. I bow down to Koren Zalickas. She's one hell of a writer. Nothing boring here. Dysfunction at its shameless best. A cross between Mommie Dearest, Ps ...more
Wendy Darling
2.5 stars Successful psychological thrillers usually rely on a couple of key things: interesting characters and the element of surprise. These characters aren't particularly nuanced, and are slotted into roles as if they're in a play, and I find it disappointing that the mother and Will in particular are so uninteresting and so very predictable.

The twists are also fairly easy to guess (are they not meant to be?), if not the exact circumstances of them, then certainly the possibility that they w
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
'Having a baby doesnt make you a mother anymore than buying a piano makes you fucking Beethoven'

After sitting on the kindle for 3 years it felt like the right time to get this read and I was really looking forward to it as dark messed up families is up my street and what a dark messed up family these lot are but the style of writing was so offputting I found it really unenjoyable.

The writing style is drier than a desert and I state this as a fact having lived 12 years in one. This has to be the
May 30, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting study of a family in crisis - a mom, a dad, two daughters, and a son. The story is narrated by the middle daughter and the youngest son. The oldest daughter has run away. I don't really want to give away too much, so won't get into the plot. It's a blend of character study and mystery/thriller.

I liked it, but not as memorable as I'd hoped. Gripping at the beginning but by the end a bit overwrought and unlikely. Better on the character study end than the mystery/suspense end.

A solid 3
j e w e l s
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I highly recommend this one if you are in the mood for one of the worst mamas in all of fiction!🖤🖤🖤

Dark, twisted and compulsively readable, I loved it!
I am a hopeless thrall for bad mommy books, and Mother, Mother does not disappoint. Josephine is the mama, a full-blown narcissist who plays nasty little mind games to manipulate her brood, with varying degrees of success. She specializes in keeping her family off-balance and questioning themselves, always fearing her reactions.

Each of her three children attempts to survive in his or her own way. Rose has just turned 18 and has finally made her escape from the home, pretty much disappearing fro
Jun 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first, I thought this family just had typical teenagers complaining about their parents. I thought the eldest, a 20 year old young woman, had just left home to live with her boyfriend. I thought the 16 year old daughter was just rebelling, and that the pre-teen son was now savoring the attention of his mother. Boy, was I wrong!

The author creepily reveals the underpinnings of the marriage and the family dynamics. Saying the family is dysfunctional is an understatement. I don't think I can give
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

I was so sure this would end up a 4 Star book.

“If only people closed their eyes when Josephine spoke, maybe then they’d hear it: cat-woman crazy, fueled by sadism and bottomless need.”

Ohhhhhhhh, Josie the Soci (as in sociopath) was easily the character I most loved to hate so far this year. Ruling her family with an iron fist – or maybe more like a mental Münchausen syndrome by proxy – she has led to her husband to seek asylu
Patrice Hoffman
Talk about a family with major issues and secrets. Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas is the exploration of a family who's matriarch is possibly one of the most vile, nutcases I have read in a long time. Mother, Mother is brilliantly twisted, engrossing, and makes those of us with "normal" parents thank our lucky stars.

It is evident from page one when William Hurst wakes to find his mother smiling down at him that maybe Josephine Hurst is a few cans short of a six pack. It could be that her husban
I’d like to nominate Douglas and Josephine Hurst for parents of the year. He’s an absentee father who’s doing a real fine job of drinking himself to death, while she’s a narcissistic mother who’d like to split ends with her family and the entire populace at large. If ever there was a case for the Emancipation Proclamation, the Hurst parents are the spitting image of what honest Abe had in mind, because I’d like to emancipate myself from this particular situation, and I only had to deal with them ...more
Liz Barnsley
Jan 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All is not well with the Hurst family.

No indeed tell me about it! All is certainly NOT well with the Hurst family. But what, I wonder, could be at the heart of that disease? Well thats what Koren Zailckas looks at here – a family dynamic – and something at its core that is eating away at the whole.

Told from two points of view – that of the two younger children, Violet and Will, their elder sister Rose having escaped by running away a year or so before, a picture begins to emerge of a rather stra
Jacob Seifert
Jul 13, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was very excited for this book, especially after reading the interview with Zailckas on Shelf Awareness, but this novel commits the sin of telling too much and showing too little. Most of the family drama is revealed through summary rather than allowing the reader to witness it and then reflect on the nuances. I also found the writing to be imprecise and lackluster, and the dialogue was often melodramatic or boring. The results: little natural tension and no desire to continue reading. I am ve ...more
Diane S ☔
May 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Narcissism is a disorder that I have just recently learned about, but it is certainly a horrible thing for the people who are in the path of a narcissist. This novel does a good job at describing the horrible psychological effects of the narcissist mother. Cannot help but feel for all the children involved. The husband, though he tried to redeem himself later in the book, was just bent on ignoring everything and drinking his way through life, instead of making the attempt to protect his chil ...more
After reading another book about secrets last week, I was just talking about how most of us put on a public persona so we are more likable to others, keeping our true thoughts to ourselves. In Mother, Mother, that’s putting it mildly. In fact, Mother, aka Josephine Hurst, is so despicable, she makes Joan Crawford look like Mother of the Year. She insists that the outside world think her family is picture perfect, that they’re living storybook lives, and no family member must ever besmirch that i ...more
Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings)
Superbly conveying the darker side of family life and portraying various elements of mental health issues I was addicted to this story and although warped and at times uncomfortable, it was a fabulous read which held my attention from start to finish.
With dysfunctional and flawed characters, this was a real eye-opener into narcissism, nature v nuture and controlling behaviour within family relationships and anyone interested in psychology and mental health will love this book too.
The title ‘Mot
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bought-own
Holy crap! This is one severely messed up family. Primarily, Josephine Hurst, who rules her roost with an iron fist and shoots words like daggers into those she supposedly loves. This woman has ice running in her veins. I honestly couldn't put this book down.

If the idea of being a fly on the wall to a home of one of the most dysfunctional fictional families sounds appealing to you then I would highly recommend this.
I won this book via the goodreads giveaway in an exchange for an honest review.
This was a good page turner. A quick read. I love psychological thrillers, however this one didn't blow me out of the water.

The plot had potential to be very frightening. A family is torn apart by their abusive mother. The ways in which she controls her victims is terrifying. At times it felt excessive and unrealistic.
Josephine, the mother, was a narcissist and a psychopath. Douglas, the father, was a selfish alcoh
Jan 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense
4.5 stars. This was a tough read, but any book that can under my skin and take me on an emotional roller coaster gets a thumbs up! Crazy attracts crazy, and there starts the building of a family with so much dysfunction you have to wonder when will it stop? Will we be hearing from Will again?
Mother, Mother I've been reading psychological thrillers like they are going out of print recently.  I think it's to do with the fact that I wasn't reading as much as I normally did for a long period, and a good psychological thriller has the ability to really grab me and keep me reading no matter what.  Told in the alternating POVs of the middle Hurst child, Violet, and the youngest, Will, Mother, Mother is an intimate, frightening look at how a family can go so very wrong on the inside, whilst ...more

Mother, Mother is a psychological thriller that unfolds in alternating viewpoints and does a fabulous job of drawing the reader in from page one. Violet sees Josephine her mother for who and what she really is: a flawed individual who could really benefit from some professional therapy, While, Will chooses to see his mother as smart, cultured, kind and loving. Will subconsciously knows the truth about his mother, but chooses (or is forced) to see her through “rose-colored glasses.” Speaking of r
Mother, Mother is a real page-turner. I could have plowed through it in about a day if I’d had the time. It’s fast-paced, the writing is simple, and the subject matter is of the I’m-feeling-really-uncomfortable-but-can’t-stop-reading kind.

I think Zailckas has a lot of potential and I certainly stayed interested enough to want to finish the book. I’m a very close, picky reader, though, and there were lots of things about Mother, Mother that I think could have been done better. With that said, Mot
Marina Sofia
Sep 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are some melodramatic, perhaps slightly implausible flourishes to this book, to add to the suspense. But overall a fascinating and very painful portrait of a dysfunctional family and a manipulative mother, with deeply scarred characters.
Stephanie (Stepping Out Of The Page)
Mother, Mother is a story unlike any other that I've read before it. When I first read the blurb of the book, I thought it sounded fantastic - like something I would find fascinating, and it was, but it was actually so much more. This book messed with my mind, it made me unsure of who to believe, what to believe and as soon as I thought I had a stable idea of a character, I could turn the page and the author could shatter the illusion. Strangely enough, this is why it exceeded my expectations!

This novel really captured my attention because the subject matter is one that I am, unfortunately, very familiar with and the author has done an excellent job creating the character, Josephine. Josephine is the matriarch of the Hurtst family and suffers with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In the most extreme cases, like the mother in this book, people with NPD don't have any self awareness because, at their core, they have no authentic selves. They put energy into creating and maintaining a ...more
Lolly K Dandeneau
Jun 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a dark novel, psychologically. It is about the slow destruction of a family at the hands of the controlling mother, Josephine Hurst. Each chapter is told either through Rose's intelligent loyal and special needs son Will or the rebellious daughter Violet who has recently found escape in drugs and philosophy. The oldest daughter Rose's disappearance with her boyfriend is clouded in mystery triggering Violet's hunger for freedom from under her mother's iron fist that immediately lands her ...more
Dec 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*Received in exchange for an honest review*
*Thank you, Harper Collins*

Wow, wow, wow. This book was so, so good and absolutely chilling. Mother, Mother explores the issues underlying the Hurst family, with some incredibly disturbing secrets. I have to admit I had a hunch about what had happened but I wasn't expecting the way the revelation was shared. It was such a dark, disturbing psychological read and is probably one of my favourite thrillers that I've ever read. It's difficult to write a revi
Caidyn (he/him/his)
I'm going to start off with the good. I liked the narrator. She was excellent and really captured the voices of the characters. I could picture them in my head, the way they looked and acted. I could really differentiate them, which is just excellent.

And... that's it. That's all I liked. So, five stars for the narrator.

The whole book my reaction varied between this

and this

For about 30% of my listening to this, I was really on edge and excited. Because I had no clue what was going to happen. What
Apr 08, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
15 year old Violet has been admitted to the local mental hospital. Why? Because her mother Josephine, has accused her of attacking her 10 year old brother Will with a knife. Rebellious Violet has no recollection of the attack but does remember an attempt to get high on morning glory seeds. Will is mildly autistic, suffers from Aspergers Syndrome and epilepsy and is home-schooled by Josephine in what seems a very unhealthy relationship. The oldest sister, Rose, has not been seen since she escaped ...more
Mother, Mother is typically one of those books which left such a great impression on me that I have no idea where to even begin. I’ve always been a big fan of psychological thrillers and suspense – both in terms of films and books – so even though I went into this book not knowing what to expect, I was secretly hoping it would render me speechless. And render me speechless it did. I finished reading it in late December and, without exaggeration, it’s been on my mind ever since.

There’s something
Jul 31, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
Sometimes it is so difficult to give a star rating for a book. Did I enjoy this book? Yes. Would I recommend it to others? Most likely. There were just little nagging things that prevent me from rating it any higher.

The subject matter is tough to stomach yet makes for a great read at the same time. I enjoyed the fact that it's not just a story about a psychotic mother, but also how her behavior affects everyone around her and how it shaped the children she raised in different ways. The mystery s
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