The daughter testified, the mother went to prison, and their small town hoped that would be the end of it. But old habits—and old grudges—die hard in Wrobel’s debut novel.
Rose Gold Watts was never sick, but her mother, Patty, with her bottle of ipecac syrup, was. After discovering that her mother had spent the better part of two decades poisoning and starving her, the then-teenage Rose Gold testified in the trial that sent Patty to prison for aggravated child abuse. Five years later, with the support of her hometown, Rose Gold has purchased the house where her mother grew up and begun renovating it to create a safe place to raise her infant son, Adam. She leaves everyone in her tightknit community reeling when she reconciles with the newly released Patty and offers her a place to stay. With this framework in place, the novel alternates between the two women as first-person narrators in the past and present. The obviously manipulative Patty guides readers through her attempts to get back on former friends' and neighbors' good sides, all the while waffling over whether and when she should exact her revenge via her daughter's greatest weakness: Adam. Meanwhile, Rose Gold pitches the narration into the past, covering the five years her mother spent in prison, which the former victim of neglect spent trying to forcibly connect with family members she had long believed were dead. Wrobel builds tension by tearing down and knocking away everything the audience believes they know, leaving a mountain of questions regarding Rose Gold's present-day life and her relationship with Patty. This thriller speeds toward its conclusion in true page-turner fashion, without feeling rushed.
A taut tale that will keep you guessing until the very end.