Thursday 22 April 2021

Review | Mother by Laura Jarratt

Published by Trapeze on February 18, 2021

Everybody has those “what if” moments. When you’re just getting on with your day and then a ridiculous or unplausible question enters your mind and you think about what you would do even though you know you’re never going to have to make the choice because it won’t ever really happen to you.

Except for Lizzie, the unthinkable does happen. In Mother, on a torrid rainy drive back from a holiday with her two daughters, Portia and Becca, Lizzie crashes the car. As they plummet into a nearby lake, Lizzie must make a choice no mother should ever have to. She can only get one of her daughters out of the car – which one can she save – and which one will be left to die?

Just in case this wasn’t traumatic enough – for Lizzie and her husband Dan and their one remaining daughter to then have to work out how to survive and go on as a family of three, when they were once a family of four – the realisation soon hits that maybe the car crash wasn’t an accident after all. Maybe the crash was caused deliberately. Maybe somebody else chose for one of their daughters to die that night…

I cannot even begin to describe how much I loved this book. It was beautifully haunting with a concept so thought-provoking I genuinely could not get the story off my mind. The writing was raw and mesmerising, with lingering, slow-burning tension and pure emotion concealed in every sentence.

I was hooked from the opening few chapters where the lead up to the accident had me biting my nails in anticipation of the scene about to unfold. Already, just from the build up in the first chapter, I was fascinated by the family dynamics, by Lizzie’s relationship with her daughters and her marriage to Dan. Both lawyers in different fields, there was something so intriguing about Lizzie and Dan and I felt like they both had a story to tell.

Throughout Mother, I suspected everyone of wrongdoing - there was definitely a lot of trust issues on my behalf! Even though trust is a concern in this book, with the fears that the crash was more than an accident, there was so much more simmering away in Mother and I was utterly obsessed with it.

The author wrote such a beautiful and heart-breaking portrayal of grief and her observations were probably my favourite part of the novel. Between Lizzie, Dan and the daughter who survives, naturally each one grieves differently, and often separately, and this was truly heart-wrenching to read. Grief is at the core of this book and it is moving and powerful. Laura Jarratt shows how grief is so personal and individual – everybody experiences it differently and it doesn’t matter how strong that person may come across, there is no escaping it.

There is not much that can be said about the book without spoiling the story and its chilling and sickening twists. I will say that there is one part towards the end that had me reading with my heart in my mouth – it was so high in emotion and tension and really encapsulated everything I loved about this book. Mother is one of the best books I have read in a long time.

Review copy provided by the publisher - this was my honest review.

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