Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage—pub date July 17, 2018

Suzette is convinced that her 7-year-old daughter Hannah is trying to kill her. The child is non-verbal, talking only through an invisible friend, the last “witch” burned in France, a piece of trivia she researched online. Alex, her husband—Hannah’s father, struggles to believe that anything beyond selective mutism is wrong with his beloved daughter, who adores him as much as she abhors her mother. An incident forces him to confront the truth, and they must take drastic measures to save their daughter from herself.

Alternating perspectives of mother and daughter show exactly where communication is misconstrued, and the mother’s Crohn’s disease is woven into the story well as a contributing factor to her fear of being a bad mother. Though the author represents the main characters well, the father is flat and comes across as whiny and simplistic. A sense of ambiguity as to the child’s true problem and the mother’s true feelings is not achieved; rather, it feels made of conflicting storylines, with vague references left unexplored. The therapist recommended by the pediatrician seems to be poor at her job, crossing ethical lines (specifics here would be spoilers). The last line is killer!

I received a digital ARC of this story from the publisher through NetGalley.

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