Review: Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

cover for baby teeth by zoje stage
© St. Martin’s Press, 2018.

Synopsis:


Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette’s husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

From blazing new talent Zoje Stage, Baby Teeth is a story about a perfect-looking family, and a darling little girl who wants nothing more than to kill her mother.

Review:


For all the hype that Zoje Stage’s debut novel, Baby Teeth has garnered, I expected this to be a delightful, bone-chilling read. After all, the idea of homicidal children is, on its own, creepy. Unfortunately, it fell disgustingly flat, repetitive and, for the most part, bored me. This is not a novel of horror; it is barely even a thriller. If anything, it’s the story of how a selfish mother, oblivious father, and attention-seeking child live their day-to-day lives.

One of the things that drew me in initially with this book is the fact that the mother, Suzette, suffers from Crohn’s disease. Stage does an amazing job at describing life for someone who suffers from IBD – all the way down to the medications (which I knew by their descriptions exactly what they were from experience). This is great, especially since more attention needs to be drawn to Crohn’s and colitis. However, Suzette’s personality, innermost thoughts, and general disdain give a poor, almost stereotypical visual of the character. Stage makes it seem like Suzette simply doesn’t want to do things, rather than can’t which, as a sufferer of ulcerative colitis, really irks me. In fact, Suzette is utterly unlikable.

Hanna, on the other hand, is a child that acts out horridly in order to garner her father’s attention. Sure, it’s pretty messed up–the things she does to her mother–but overall, she seems more like an undisciplined brat with a hint of something worse wrong with her. And the father? God forbid he man up and play his role as he should; rather, he coddles and feeds into Hanna’s bad behavior. Seriously, there’s nothing to like about the characters here.

Moving on to the plot, Baby Teeth is an absolute snoozefest. Girl attacks mom, mom gets upset, dad doesn’t listen, rinse and repeat for three hundred or so pages. Seriously, the only good thing it has is that things escalate, but even that is extremely slow.

Overall, I’m utterly disappointed in this book. It’s extremely tame (though there is a brief, unnecessary sex scene). I’d like to thank NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of this book for the purpose of an unbiased review.

Rating: 💀