By Zoje Stage
Rating: 4/5 Stairs
Baby Teeth starts out with seven-year-old Hanna at a doctor’s visit with her mother, Suzette. Hanna does not speak (and has never spoken a word in her life), and her parents have her in for another round of tests to see if any abnormalities show up. The reader quickly realizes while Hanna may be mute, she is very articulate with her thoughts. The chapters alternate between Hanna and Suzette’s perspective. As we are introduced to both characters we realize that Suzette is an exhausted mother trying to do the best for her difficult child. And exhausted is an understatement. Suzette is a stay-at-home mom who also home schools her daughter. She is worried that Hanna acts out on purpose, and doesn’t want her around. And Hanna…well…Hanna hates her mother.
When I first started reading this, I wondered if maybe Suzette was suffering from unwarranted paranoia. I mean, her young daughter couldn’t really want to get rid of her mother, could she? But right away we realize that yes, it’s true. Hanna feels like Suzette doesn’t really lover her. Hanna wants Suzette gone for good, and her father all to herself. Hanna is a master manipulator — the perfect angel for her father, while pushing her frazzled mother’s buttons when he is not around.
And then after a few chapters, the book gets really creepy.
I won’t say more here as I wasn’t expecting this turn so I don’t want to spoil it. But, yeah. Creepy for sure. I would go so far as to classify this book to go beyond psychological thriller and move slightly into the horror category.
A definite page turner. If the author wouldn’t have specified Hanna’s age, I would have guessed that she was around 13, not 7. (I even went back and checked on her age to make sure I wasn’t remembering wrong!) Hanna’s thinking, plotting, and manipulation to get rid of her mother is really intense. And poor Suzette has been living with Hanna with no breaks for so long, her sanity could snap at any minute.
If you’re looking for an intense, creepy, psychological read, Baby Teeth is the book for you.