I picked up Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage after being told by several people that it was unsettling. It was not only unsettling but it was also caught my attention right away. To my delight, it got crazier with each chapter, until…. well, I’ll got to that in a minute.
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.
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.”
What I Loved
If you’ve checked the book out on Goodreads, you’ll see that the reviews are not great. This has been a common theme when it comes to the books that I have reviewed on The Travel Bug Bite. I really enjoyed reading Baby Teeth despite its short comings, that I will get to in a bit.
The book is very well written and I felt like I really knew the protagonists. It is written from two perspectives, Hanna’s and Suzette’s. However, we also get to know Alex, Hanna’s father, quite well. One thing that made me love the book even more is that Alex is originally Swedish. The author did a great job incorporating Swedish culture into the story.
Although there are many movies with a misbehaving child that terrorizes their mother, this story felt unique. I had some theories at the beginning but they were all dispelled. I really enjoyed that this book kept me guessing and questioning. It only took me two days to finish Baby Teeth!
What I Didn’t Love
While I loved the plot and the characters, there were a few things that struck me as unrealistic. Obviously this is a fictional story but there were aspects that I found distracting. The main one was the maturity level of Hanna, who is supposed to be eight years old. The fact that Hanna is wise beyond her years is part of the plot, but it could have been toned down just a notch for my preference.
Another slightly unrealistic aspect, in my opinion, was the Alex the husband’s disbelief of the situation. Although I understand that every family has different dynamics, I can’t imagine a marriage where the husband wouldn’t take his wife seriously. At the same time, I do remember acting as an angel for my grandmother while giving my parents a hard time when I was younger. My grandmother probably thought that my mom was exaggerating my naughtiness (she wasn’t, but I was no Hanna.)
Finally, I was not too impressed with the ending. I thought that the beginning, build-up and climax were all very powerful and well written. The ending seemed weak in comparison. Do I have suggestions on how the ending could have been better? Yes. Does the weaker ending make me hate the book? No. But it is enough to make me lower an otherwise five star rating to four.
I would love to read more books by Zoje Stage, like Wonderland, which seems less popular due to the low number of reviews on Goodreads, but sounds like it’s right up my alley. You can buy both Baby Teeth and Wonderland on Amazon, click on the titles to find links!
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