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review 2018-07-17 18:34
’Baby Teeth’ has a lot of bite and is not so sweet BUT it’s ‘un-put-down-able’
Baby Teeth - Zoje Stage

This amazingly creepy story from debut author Zoje Stage has got a lot of bite. The ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’ complex takes center stage as Hanna, a seven-year old (supposedly) mute girl plays nice-nice in her father Alex’s company, but when she is the company of her mother Suzette, she just about unleashes horns on her head and a devil’s tail.


I’m exaggerating a little bit: there are no supernatural horns or tails although it’s way to easy to imagine them on this devil child that Zoje has so well-written for this novel. And somehow Hanna only manages to talk, now suddenly in French, just in her mom’s company, never so her dad can hear.


For years, Suzette has had to sacrifice her career by staying at home to homeschool Hanna, as she has been thrown out of preschools for bizarre and nasty behavior, but it’s behavior that her parents felt she would grow out of, and that once she was school-age, she could be handled better by an elementary school. Suzette also struggles with Crohn’s disease, which often keeps her bedridden and very ill, but it’s something that Hanna only has so much patience for but luckily her husband Alex has been sensitive to over the years.
Hanna persists in showing only one side to her father, who is Swedish to a fault, following Swedish holidays and traditions, which is something Hanna loves, including the special names Alex gives her, like Lilla Gumman, and she delights in little things like jumping in this lap and bedtime stories, shows of affection she reserves only for her father.
Alex and Suzette have not ignored Hanna’s lack of speech and antisocial behavior over the years though; they’ve taken her to specialists and had tests done, MRIs and other scans but there are no medical reasons for these behaviors. The answers start to become clearer especially to Suzette, as the behaviors become more pronounced; she questions herself, her parenting, whether Hanna is possessed, but she starts to realize this is just Hanna.


Reading Hanna’s side of it (as the novel goes -effectively - back and forth between what is going on for Hanna and Suzette, as if they are making an argument for their case) is just so incredibly disturbing. As she makes ‘plans’ for things she is about to do, and as she reasons ‘why she should’ do things, you’re allowed to see inside a very sad and twisted mind. As the book progresses so does her negativity towards her mother, and her need to push her mom out of the way to get closer to her father becomes greater.


The methods she does it by made me literally gasp out loud and sent my own child running (with questions for me), so that’s a good sign for me when it comes to a book.
In terms of how Suzette and Alex were able to handle Hanna: I will say that if you’re not a parent, you may have the view that it would have been easy to think ‘call the police’, or do certain other drastic things at times, but once you’re a parent, your perspective changes. You try everything else first. You want to try and help your child and do what you can, or you don’t believe they’re doing these behaviors. Your love for your child makes you run through all other avenues of help first, or in Alex’s case, stay in denial or in oblivion.


For many readers, this book may have gone too far; I know of many reviewers who passed on it because of the subject material, and it wasn’t for them. But it was totally right for me. I had been waiting for a book to be this daring for a while, and if it turns some people away, then you’ve at least elicited a visceral reaction to your work, whatever it is. In this case, it was because it was something that was going to make them feel uncomfortable or scared. I’d read that some people also got the wrong idea about the book, that it contained sexual abuse: it’s a shame people jump to conclusions before they actually have any real information.
Even if I didn’t know that the author Zoje used to work in film (as I also did) I probably could’ve guessed, as this would hold up so incredibly well as a movie; I had so many scenes in my head when I was reading this! Pure magic for the camera. Especially with the right Hanna.
The characters were so fascinating, and well-written, and I loved all the little bits about Sweden, Zoje did a fine job making these characters unique, especially for a thriller in a crowded genre. But then again, the whole book is unique, right down to the crushed lollipop on the front of the book.


And since at the center of this book is the ‘Daddy’s Little Girl/Electra’ complex, I found this fascinating. I don’t think I’ve seen a book personally written about this to this degree. It made Alex so blind to his daughter’s behavior, although it also made me question whether the ending was realistic.
The ending did kind of peter out a bit but I was satisfied with it; overall the book was such a page-turner, and kept me so enthralled, it was thoroughly ‘unputdownable’. I want more of this from Zoje!


*Warning: it might make some people question whether they want a ‘Little Girl to spoil’ after reading.

**Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for my early copy! 

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review 2018-07-17 12:46
BABY TEETH BY: ZOJE STAGE
Baby Teeth - Zoje Stage

 

Let me start this review by saying I have a teenage daughter. Now, as a mom, I can't be the only one ever to have one of those dreams...one of those terrifying nightmares where your child is basically the devil incarnate and you're just feverishly drowning in helplessness, no matter what you do the situation/your child cannot be swayed, controlled or tempered. Like trying to slog through the quicksand stairs while the monster is chasing you. This book is like living that nightmare and you just can't escape from it.

 

 

 

 

I was completely riveted by this story. It plays on so so many parental fears, fears we all have,

 

'am I doing this right?'

 

 

'Should I have done it this way or that way instead?'

 

'Am I wrong for thinking this..or feeling that?'

 

'Am I a good mother?'

 

 

 

 

It made me waiver constantly on my feelings towards Suzette. Much of her thought process was so relatable. We tend to, right or wrong, have a constant internal battle with ourselves and Suzette was a pretty spectacular example of this. Even the way she constantly compared her upbringing to that which she provided for her daughter. We all strive to 'be better', we all want for our children that which we felt we lacked and needed the most. On the flip side though, she could be selfish and quick to think or expect the worst, although considering her history it wasn't exactly a stretch to see why she would do so in some ways, and her constant desire to exude perfection, especially to her husband was concerning. Really she was a spectacularly flawed human, much like the rest of us. I mean, can you still call it paranoia if there's a legitimate reason to be paranoid?

 

 

Hannah was an equally compelling character. It was easy to teeter back and forth between feeling sympathy for her and wondering how much of what was happening with her was in fact due to the dynamic in the household, or stemming from Suzette's shortcomings or overreaching and her father's overcompensation and denial, or being terrified of the fact that maybe she is a deeply disturbed little girl capable of horrifying actions. Either way it was impossible to look away, I was as determined as Suzette to get to the bottom of this mystery. Admittedly some of her actions seemed over the top and to be a thrill just for the sake of the thrill, but it was honestly still riveting nonetheless.

 

 

 

 

I don't want to spoil anything because a lot of the page-turning fun of this book is waiting to find out what is really happening and which side you will ultimately fall on. Although I will say that even at the very end I still found myself conflicted on that! But I must say, as frustrating as that can be, it was also an unexpected surprise and I feel like it fit the story as a whole quite well. I truly enjoyed this book and had trouble putting it down, it was pretty much everything it promised it would be, a disturbing, fast paced page-turner that will keep you engrossed till the very end!

 

 

*I received an ARC of this book via St. Martin's Press and this is my honest review*

 

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review 2018-07-12 03:46
Baby Teeth
Baby Teeth - Zoje Stage

Baby Teeth is as disturbing as disturbing gets. For me, there's nothing scarier than a creepy child, and they don't get much creepier than Hannah. She's absolutely diabolical. I'll admit that I did have a problem with Hannah's young age and the things she's able to accomplish, but given her intelligence combined with access to the internet, it's not as big a stretch once I gave it some thought. The thing that got me was even though Hannah's planning and conniving seemed beyond her years, she still had that childlike innocence in terms of the details when carrying out those plans and the consequences. With parents who are ill-equipped to handle a child so manipulative, not that any parent would be prepared for this child, it's not hard to see where this one is heading and I found it impossible to put down as Hannah's actions escalate. We do have an open ending, which is as chilling as the rest of the book, and I'll be interested to see if there's a sequel. I believe this is one of those books with little middle ground in terms of opinion. You'll either love it or you'll hate it, and I am firmly in the love it camp. With this debut, Stage has proven, to this reader at least, that she knows her stuff when it comes to building tension and creating a dark, twisted, and even sinister tale. 

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review 2018-06-15 23:59
Nope. No kids for me....
Baby Teeth - Zoje Stage

This was such a good book I stayed up until 2am to finish it. Even then I couldn’t go back to sleep because I was floored!

 

What really makes a huge impact in this book were the characters and the tension created between all of them. A beautifully created house wasn’t so lovely on the inside and what you think is a lovely happy family is really not what it seems.

 

The plot itself was good. You follow the points of view of Hanna and Suzette. Hanna. Oh my goodness. All you can think of how is it possible that she can be such a horrid rabid creature who does whatever it takes to push Suzette to her limits. Her actions are shocking and it’s hard to believe she’s could be this sweet little girl (or at least to Alex she is). You are constantly guessing what she might have. A psychological disorder? Or is there something more malicious out there? (ie: paranormal).

 

At times you feel for Suzette. She’s at her limit and she tries to justify Hanna’s actions, blaming herself at times because she thinks it’s due to her lack of being a mother. Now I can understand how she can lash out and snap sometimes at Hanna but sometimes I thought her behavior went too harsh and it didn’t help matters, in fact it escalated and made it worse. There were times when she got whiny and it’s hard to sympathize with any side at this point (Although you could sympathize for Alex as he’s caught in the middle of this ordeal).

 

This book may not be for everyone, it’s definitely chilling to see a child act like this. Again you have to wonder if there’s something much darker unlying her behavior. I loved the ending, it was so perfect for this book. Definitely recommended for those that want a chilling novel where kids run amok. Keep in mind some parts can be pretty disturbing.

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review 2018-03-01 15:56
Baby Teeth
Baby Teeth - Zoje Stage
Hanna trying to rattle her mom’s cage and she’s doing a great job at it. Call me twisted by I was enjoying the ways that Hanna was tormenting her mother. Not that I, myself would want to be a victim of Hanna’s but Hanna was a crafty individual and she would stop at nothing to get a reaction from her mother. To her father, Hanna was an innocent child and it wasn’t until later in the novel when Hanna was seen by outsiders that her father, finally saw Hanna for who she truly was.
 
I couldn’t believe that Hanna was only a seven-year old child. The way that her mind worked and by her actions, she seemed to be much older. She seems way too shrewd, devious, and intellectual to be a seven-year old.
 
Hat’s off to Hanna’s mother for everything she did for Hanna even though her daughter made her life so miserable. Even when her mother tries to lock herself in the bathroom for private time, Hanna can’t leave her alone. When mother tries to enroll Hanna in the public-school system, Hanna's behavior had me laughing and in shock. It had finally happened! Her mother had found other individuals who could back her up. Their reactions to what Hanna did was an added bonus. I thought the ending of this novel was brilliant, it really fit Hanna personality and the novel perfectly.
 
I’m giving this novel a 4 based on Hanna’s intelligence of a 3 and the storyline and tension within the novel of a 4.5.
 
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.
#BabyTeeth #NetGalley

 

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