Amy’s life is picture perfect. Mess with that picture – you’re going to pay.
Amy’s life is close to perfect – two lovely daughters, a wonderful husband and she’s queen bee in her circle of soccer moms. She feels content, like she’s finally put some distance between herself and the terrible events of long ago.
The only fly in the ointment is Charlotte, a recent arrival to this affluent suburban community. The shameless way she dresses, the way the men look at her… it’s not right, she’s just not the kind of person they want around here.
Amy spearheads a drive to exclude Charlotte, to make it clear to her that she’s not welcome here. Infuriatingly, Charlotte doesn’t seem to care… And when her daughter joins the soccer team there’s just no getting away from her.
But Amy knows from bitter experience the kind of trouble a woman like Charlotte can bring. And there is no way on earth that her girls are ever going to be exposed to anything like that. The solution is clear – Charlotte has to go. No matter what it takes.
I don’t think there’s any other topic that I love reading about more than the depths of the human mind and all the ways insanity might manifest itself. Not the very obvious craziness spikes my interest, but the hidden one, the one that lurks for years undetected, showing only small, occasional red flags that the other characters are able to ignore easily. I don’t have words to explain how hooked The Good Mother kept me from the first to the last page because that’s exactly what it delivers: an apparent normal and perfect life that slowly develops into a crescendo of madness.
The storyline is nothing out of the ordinary: the “heaven on earth” suburban community, a circle of perfect mothers, secretly competing with each other for the title of the slimmest and best dressed house wife, for the prettiest pedicure or for the most delicious home baked cookies. Everything is normal, ideal, all rainbows, butterflies and unicorns. But the moment an eccentric mother disturbs the peaceful neighborhood, those perfectly manicured nails turn into ugly claws, ready to rip apart anyone who threatens to destroy their shiny painting.
Although multifaceted, most of the characters are dominated by one particular trait or event that shapes and contours their behavior: deep insecurity, childhood trauma, anxiety, rebellion, placidity, snobbishness, etc. And the author does a wonderful job in portraying her characters based on those features, but without compromising any of their complexity. If, in the beginning, these traits are just finely hinted, they start escalating in the same time with the evolution of the storyline, sometimes reaching a point where they shock you so badly that you have to read a sentence twice in order to comprehend the magnitude of what just happened.
I loved the fact that the author surprises the points of view of both sides so this way, none of the characters gets caught in a hero or villain role. Yes, looking at the situation from an outside perspective, things are pretty clear regarding who’s the good one and the bad one in the story. But entering the minds of multiple characters makes you less tempted to judge too harshly and allows you to analyze how many sides each random, small fact can have.
I read the book with thirst, with voracity. I’m always equally disturbed, intrigued and fascinated by any kind of behavior that I find irrational, lacking basic common sense, understanding or empathy. The Good Mother fed me with exactly this type of demeanor and interactions, keeping the adrenaline level at maximum levels.