Rose O’Connell is barely surviving. Her marriage is rocky; her son isn’t fitting in at his new school, the prestigious Woolf Academy; and their tiny apartment in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood can barely contain her family. As she struggles to make ends meet on her junior bank teller wages, Rose finds that life as the only mom in a name tag and uniform at the Woolf’s shiny school gates isn’t easy.
Not so for those in the elite and secretive Circle—a tight-knit group of wealthy mothers, led by the charismatic and glamorous Amala Kaur—who rule the school. When the mysterious death of one of the Circle’s members creates a vacancy, Rose dares to hope she could fill it and transform her life.
Amala’s shocking decision to invite Rose into her clique provokes resentment among the Circle, especially when her fortunes, self-esteem, and status start to soar. But Rose soon realizes the true price of being on the inside. Far from being a dream come true, the Circle proves her worst nightmare. Unlike the woman she replaced, can Rose escape with her life?
Taut, complex, and compulsively readable, Such a Good Mother is a razor-sharp take on the myth of having it all.
What’s it about (in a nutshell):
Such a Good Mother by Helen Monks Takhar is a dark and twisted psychological thriller about the lasting effects of being bullied and a mother’s need for her child to have a better life than she has known.
Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):
The cover is very creepy with a woman who must be watching a group of women because you can see them through a window reflected in her sunglasses. The little teaser on the cover says, “some women would do anything for their children,” which sends chills down my spine. The blurb is rather long but also reflects the dark creepiness of the cover. I can just imagine what lengths a mother would go to, so my initial expectations are that this will be a dark and twisty psychological thriller.
Actual Reading Experience:
This story starts off relatively harmless with a school tour of the local school. The mother who is taking the tour, Rosie, lives just across the street and is looking for the school she wants her young son to attend. The school seems perfect, but she feels like an outsider and doubts her chances of getting her son in. And that’s when the fun begins, with one creepy turn after another until all of the secrets are unveiled. Then the story becomes intensely dark and shocking, with one surprise following another until the very end. Of course, this review will be relatively brief so as not to give away any of those secrets, but let’s just say my jaw hit the floor as the story ratcheted up the thrills to unbelievable heights.
The narration is in the first person, with Rosie, our courageous mother, telling her tale. As with all first-person narrations, you can assume there is at least a bit of unreliability, but this aids in the shocking revelations so that the reader doesn’t see them coming, or at least I didn’t. Never underestimate the lengths a mother will go for their children as the cover teases.
The pace stays fast throughout, with the thrills increasing as the story progresses. The story tells of a pin that signifies membership into an exclusive mom’s group, the women in that group, and a host of minor and major events that occur with this particular group sitting right in the middle of the fray. The twists start slowly and then grow to such a breakneck speed toward the end that it becomes hard to keep up but keep up I did and enjoyed every minute of it.
The characters are deliciously devious and well-developed enough for the reader to realize the boundless depths of their darkness. The good characters never stood a chance, but who is good in this story? Everyone has a bit of darkness that can be tapped into with the right incentive.
I also loved the use of Instagram in this story. We all know how insidious and powerful social media is. This story shows that in concrete ways, leaving no doubt about this observation.
To Read or Not to Read:
If you enjoy dark and twisted psychological thrillers with unreliable narrators, you will love Such A Good Mother by Helen Monks Takhar.