Hudson Valley writer Hits Best Seller Status

I LOVE a good book. Especially this time of year; the days are shorter and endlessly dark and the cold is creeping in from the cracks in the doors. Yes, a blanket a hot cup of tea and something to read and I am—you guessed it—happy. So, when Random House contacted me to ask if I wanted to preview Koren Zailckas' newest thrilling tale in novel form of course I gave an excited, "Yes!" 

They led with this caption:

 When Zailckas’s memoir Smashed was published in 2005 it took the world by storm. The riveting, absorbing story of her teenage alcoholism was a tour-de-force, sold over a half million copies, and has become a touchstone of the memoir genre. Now, she turns her considerable talent to fiction writing, with a darkly suspenseful debut novel that is taut, compelling, and ultimately terrifying. Deeply personal, Koren’s first foray into fiction showcases her brilliant, firecracker prose, a page-turning plot, and an unmistakable voice.





I turned through the pages of chapter 1,2 and 3 cleverly called not by sequential order, but by the name of each character who is at the center of the conversation. This interesting use of heading is a sort of playful indication of the narcissism innate to each of the players who live in the Mother, Mother universe. 

By page 30 I became excited at the mention of several Hudson Valley landmarks beginning with the Poughkeepsie bridge. The author of the book, Koren—shown in the headlining photo— is described as living in the Catskill Mountains with her family. Koren's use of landscape, geography and landmarks will help turn this abstract tale into a deeply personal novel. The book is set in Ulster County, N.Y., so mentions like Bull and Buddha restaurant, Vassar College, Minnewaska, the Rail Trail and (even) Veteran Hospital Castle Point riddle the pages.  It is a visualization that I found captivating. I couldn't wait for the next familiar place to show up in the storyline so I could imagine myself there, too. 

Mother, Mother is a riveting account of a family coming unraveled in the insinuatingly priviledged foothills of the Catskills, perhaps nearby to our very own Rosendale. The 10 year-old-son, Will is on the autism spectrum, prone to epileptic episodes, and homeschooled. 16 year old Violet spends most of the book in the confines of a mental ward, and sister Rose, last seen boarding the Metro North, is left to our imaginations as missing and hiding out somewhere in Manhattan. All three of the children are cursed by mother Josephine's careless comments and cheap shots. 

You will love this book right up until the ride out of unimaginable twists and heart wrenching turns.  The plot bounces between characters in emphatic detail letting the reader watch on as they slowly intertwine like ivy against lattice. 

The book touches the nerves every middle class family will painfully recognize while tears at the essence of madness. 


Check out some other reviews of Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas

"....disturbing in the best possible way: believably. The slow, subtle darkness at the core of this book starts as a trickle and grows to a flash flood, and not once does it stop feeling absolutely authentic." –Kelly Braffet

“It’s the kind of book that keeps you up at night, featuring a mother to rival Medea or Mrs. Bates…The shocking and violent denouement shows Zailckas to be a consummate storyteller.” –Publishers Weekly

“Zailckas crafts an intriguing mystery surrounding this family that will keep readers on edge as she slowly peels back layer after layer of deception.” –Booklist

“A hall of mirrors reflecting chaotic maternal psychological mayhem reminiscent of Mommie Dearest or Push or Ordinary People.”–Kirkus Reviews

Now available on Amazon