Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage book is a highly recommended book. It is on lists of great thrillers. Banned books to read. And even for book groups. However, I am not totally a hundred percent sure why. I learned after starting it, several people had a variety of “not liking” comments. One person could not finish it. Others felt that while it was worth the read, but felt a few other titles were stronger. This mixed batch of love and eh was what I felt. I started with, “This is good. Slow but good.” Then, “It picks up eventually, right? And finally, “I am done. What do I think?”
As I mentioned above, I found the pacing slow, but the ending however, felt a tad rushed. There was no real action until near the end. The first two thirds are planning, the setup to the climax. But as said, the ending is a rushed event. It is suddenly, SURPIRSE the child Hanna has followed up on her threats and planning. Up to that point Suzette (her mother) could just be imagining it, or Hanna is just doing normal spoiled, bratty kid things. She has not actually done anything seen.
The ending was not OMG SHOCKING, but I was a little surprised they went that way. None of the characters are likeable for me. Hanna is not completely believable. This family is a cliched “no so perfect “perfect” family.” I wanted to kick Alex, the husband, more than once due to his attitude, and flat personality/actions. There were times I felt Suzette would not have said things that she did (but then again, that could be her mask falling and the “real” her comes out. It is something for thought/discussion). Sometimes Hanna felt too mature. Yes, she is intelligent, but I felt due to the way she was set up, she would have some tantrums/actions that would still show the immaturity of her age (again, something to think about). And while Stage uses teeth as a metaphor off and and on, I was hoping for something more with that theme. However, I think I could forgive some “holes” I felt where there by chalking it up to a first novel.
I think I was really able to get into it when I stopped taking everything literally and let myself fall into the narrative. The three possible scenarios are: Hanna is possessed and/or magic is real. Suzette is going mad and projecting that outward to others. Hanna is a sociopath who has figured out serious psychological manipulation. And when I finally accepted that all three are possible, and at the same time, it helped me to move through more easily. However, I still wish I had more periods of time that I was not interrupted, just relaxing, not distracted as it can take an emotional toll. Not just because of what is happening, but due to the normalness of what is happening, and that normal everyday pacing. This is not something most people could binge read. You need to stop and take a breath or ten.
I see why this book was banned, why people like it, why people do not like it, and I know it is an acquired taste. I was not overly impressed, yet I was glad I read it and recommend this book if you like a psychological thriller.