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Baby Teeth

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Stage fuses horror with domestic suspense to paint an unflinching portrait of childhood psychopathy and maternal regret. And within her mind clamour the voices of all the others she has been, their desires, and their wrongs. More than just a story about a creepy kid, Baby Teeth is a condemnation of modern American parenting and an intense examination of the circumstances that create monstrous children–who will grow to be monstrous adults–and the responsibility borne by the child, her parents, and even society at large. Meg Grehan’s first book, The Space Between, won the Eilís Dillon Award at the 2018 Children’s Books Ireland Awards.

Through rapid reading of this novel — and, trust me, there is no way not to read this one rapidly — readers become fully immersed in the world of this family and begin to feel as if not just the fictional characters contained within, but instead the readers themselves, have something serious at stake.There was a plot point about Alex looking like a “Scandinavian Devil” with a beard, which really played well with a highly disturbing scene in which Hanna pretended the ‘Devil’ was having sex with her. The misshapen canyon of a scar had always bothered her, falling in a deep, wonky six-inch diagonal on the right side of her navel. I didn’t really see the point of the reams of writing that focused on Suzette’s fear of her own Crohn’s disease.

She worries more about failing as a parent then connecting with her child, but Hanna doesn’t make it easy. Most free hours are spent crocheting with my cat (in his presence - he sadly does not crochet), reading, and writing reviews. She acts all sweet and as though she loves her child when in public (or even just her husband) but in private is rude and unloving.

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. And within her mind clamour the voices of all the others she has been – their desires, and their wrongs. The face and body may be that of a young girl, but the mind is one of an adult acting like a ghoul – think a version of the film Orphan that doesn’t have the end twist. This book is heady, it pulls you into it, capturing so beautifully love and longing, particularly between women. The knowledge of developmental milestones notwithstanding, I wasn’t really worried about my son’s lack of linguistic dexterity.

When she shows up at a Montana gas station, clutching an infant and screaming for help, investigators believe she may have been abducted by a cult. old, even a prodigy, processing the history of the women condemned of witchcraft and then taking on the character of one of those young girls -- and speaking perfect French, without there being some suggestion of demonic possession. Content-wise, it was a tough book to get into because obviously, you are not going to care about this little girl-monster, and the archetypes were so glaring they seem to smack you in the face. 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.The room in the hospital’s dungeon carried the threat of needles and smelled like lemon candies tinged with poison.

But gradually, seeing things from Hanna’s perspective, it becomes increasingly clear that Suzette isn’t innocent in the creation of this hateful monster, and neither is her husband.

I don’t think he had the right to be so disbelieving of everything Suzette told him when he was never home in the first place. There was a documentary about a 6 year old girl who was a psychopath and they did an interview with her and i thought this can’t be right, she sounds really clever, and says things i don’t think i knew when i was 6.

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