Major trigger warning for the book if you have ever been abused by a narcissist, been verbally, mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually abused. I would advise not reading this book if any of that applied to.
This book was triggering for me because the way Josephine talked and behaved towards Violet and Will was so reminiscent of my mother and the friend I’m having issues with.
The book starts off with Violet being admitted to a psychiatric hospital after allegedly attacking her brother Will with a knife. The story flips between her and Will’s point of view. There is also Douglas, the alcoholic father, whom Will and Josephine thinks is having an affair (he’s not; it’s his AA sponsor), that he’s abusive (he’s the one being abused by Josephine though he honestly doesn’t have any sort of backbone).
There is also Rose, the oldest daughter, who ran away from home. But may have come back to hurt the family. You learn about her abortion that her mother manipulated her into and then tortures her afterward for getting the abortion. But she ran away over a year ago. And yet, did she really run away?
Will is his mother’s champion as pretty much sides with her in everything. The autism diagnosis, the epilepsy, the homeschooling are all used to isolate him. Add in Josephine’s picking out his clothes, dressing him for bed, using him as a confidant and confessor, using him as a full in for Douglas her husband, and you can see how twisted and evil and abusive Josephine really is. She punishes him by putting a sticker on the back of her office door, makes put his nose to it and stand there while she reads the Bible to him. Will is messed up but he is too ensnared, enmeshed in his mother’s grasp to notice.
This is one twisted, fucked up family. I was pretty sympathetic to Violet since I knew what it was like to have my words and actions manipulated. Not to the extreme she did but it was family. So was the isolation of siblings from each other. My mother did that too.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to read this book after only being 30-40 pages in and being triggered. I’m not sure I’m glad I finished it but it was interesting to see I was right about a few things.
A recommend, see warning at top of post