Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

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Alex and Suzette Jensen have a seven-year-old daughter named Hanna. Despite her age, Hanna doesn’t speak a word, which concerns her parents a great deal. They have had test after test done on Hanna, but there is nothing physically wrong with her. She simply chooses not to speak. Behavioral issues have resulted in Suzette home-schooling her daughter, and being with her 24/7 is extremely difficult because Hanna—who adores her father and is eager to please him—doesn’t like her mother at all. In Hanna’s mind, life would be perfect if Mommy was gone… permanently. She just had to figure out a way to do it.

Baby Teeth is an addictive, chilling novel that’s so good, you can’t help but stay up all night reading it. I literally read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore, and became absorbed in reading it again as soon as possible the next day.

Hanna is a seriously creepy little girl. Whether she was terrorizing her mother or manipulating her father, that’s the one thought that kept repeating in the back of my mind. Her character is terrifyingly twisted, and reading her thoughts constantly left me in a state of dread about what she was plotting to do to her mother.

I felt an enormous amount of empathy for Suzette. Not only was she having to deal with a debilitating illness (Crohn’s Disease), she was faced with the problem of handling a disturbed child by herself, and a husband who couldn’t—or wouldn’t—believe his beloved Hanna was hurting her mother. Suzette felt alone, and had an incredible amount of guilt, wondering what she did wrong with her daughter to cause this. The conflicting feelings she had towards Hanna were believable and appropriate to the situation. I was constantly aware of Suzette’s sorrow and feelings of failure as a mother, and it was heartbreaking.

As for Alex? There were times I wanted to jump into the book and shake him for being so (deliberately?) obtuse about what was happening at home. I felt sorry for him at times (especially near the end) but I was frustrated with him a lot.

The ending… WOW. It left me with my jaw on the floor, and desperately wanting more, more, more! Don’t get me wrong. I think the ending was perfect, and worked beautifully… but I hated for the story to come to an end.

Zoje Stage has written an impressive debut novel, and I’m very much looking forward to reading more books from her in the future.

I’m giving this book my highest recommendation: this is a book worth reading. You don’t want to miss out on this one, folks!

 I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley.

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Author: Zoje Stage
Title: Baby Teeth
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publication Date: July 17, 2018 by St. Martin’s Press
Rating: 5 stars

About the Book

Sweetness can be deceptive.

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. 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.

From blazing new talent Zoje Stage, Baby Teeth is a story about a perfect-looking family, and a darling little girl who wants nothing more than to kill her mother.

About the Author

An author of dark and suspenseful novels, Zoje recently moved back to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA after living in western New York for more than a decade. She has a deep and eclectic background in the arts – as writer, filmmaker, thespian, and all-around dabbler. In her former life as a filmmaker she was a 2008 Fellow in Playwriting/ Screenwriting from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA.org), and a 2012 Emerging Narrative Fellow from the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP.org). Her debut novel BABY TEETH (St. Martin’s Press) will be released 17 July 2018. It will be released in the UK as BAD APPLE (Transworld).

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