Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Hush Little Baby

Author: Suzanne Redfearn
Genre: Suspense
Type: Kindle e-book
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
First Published: October 8, 2013
First Line: "The priest stands to the side waiting for the piano to quiet, then walks to the pulpit."

Book Description from GoodReads: If I stay, he will kill me. If I leave, he'll destroy Addie and Drew. Jillian Kane appears to have it all - a successful career, a gorgeous home, a loving husband, and two wonderful children. The reality behind closed doors is something else entirely. For nine years, she has hid the bruises and the truth of her abusive marriage in order to protect Addie and Drew, knowing, if she left, Gordon would destroy her-destroy them.

When, in an act of desperation, she flees, her worst nightmare is realized, and she finds herself on the run with her two young children, no money, and no plan. With Gordon in hot pursuit, there is only one inescapable certainty: No matter where she goes, he will find her. Kill her. And take her children.

A riveting page-turner, HUSH LITTLE BABY exposes the shame and terror of domestic violence as well as the disturbing role manipulation and sabotage can play in the high-stakes game of child custody. Suspenseful and unforgettably moving, it's a novel about the unbreakable bonds of family and the astounding, terrifying devotion of a mother's love.

Note: My sincere thanks to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchanged for my honest review.

My Review: I loved this book.  How's that for an opening line of a review?

It not only had me on the edge of my seat a few times but the short chapters kept the pace high and the emotions that Ms Redfearn's writing pulled out of me surprised even me.  Let's just say that it takes a lot to get an emotional response out of this reader but this book did.  

As Jillian's home life is described at the beginning of the book I found myself making stereotypical generalizations of Jillian -- the battered, powerless wife (I had failed to remember, after quickly skimming the book synopsis, that Jillian was a successful career woman).  Due to this oversight I'm ashamed to say that I made assumptions about Jillian from the get go.  That is, until the author turned those assumptions upside down.  Well played, Ms Redfearn, well played.  I loved the fact that this book put me in my place and helped me to open my eyes to the truth about spousal abuse.  It can affect anyone. You just never know someone else's story.

Hush Little Baby is filled with shorter chapters and I think that this helps to propel the storyline and keep the reader engaged.  It takes off right away on an emotional and suspenseful rollercoaster with the reader seeing and feeling Jillian's fear, uncertainty and abuse.  Reading certain passages, I felt myself tensing up and willing Jillian to make a different choice.  You can feel the tension that Jillian and her children, especially her son Drew, live with on a daily basis. 

But it was her conflicting emotions regarding her husband Gordon that got to me the most.  Her self-doubt and feelings of worthlessness were palpable and made me want to reach in and get her to realize, before it's too late, that it doesn't have to be this way.  

The mental abuse and degradation that Gordon commits against Jillian are just as appalling and hurtful as the physical marks he leaves on her.  To see this powerful woman denigrated and reduced to the point where she only views herself as a bad mother, useless and ugly was heart breaking, frustrating and maddening.

What I found frustrating was seeing how quickly Jillian's mindset reverts to forgetting about the horrible parts of her marriage when she's in a calm/peaceful time with her husband.  During those times she chooses to believe the image that Gordon portrays to everyone else.  The cop who coaches Little League and the hands on Dad who's a devote Christian.  It may be self-preservation and/or fear but seeing her talk about missing foot rubs and Gordon asking about her day even after he brutally hurts her was hard to read ... and yet I could see where she was coming from at the same time.  I think that Ms Redfearn truly got into the head of an abused woman and helped me to better understand what it's like to be in that position.

I really don't have any negatives about this book but I do have more of a 'wish list' of sorts.  I think adding the points of view of Drew and Gordon could have added an extra layer to the book.  Seeing how Drew truly views his dad and his mom as well as how he feels when he witnesses his mom being abused/denigrated would have possibly given a broader understanding of spousal abuse.

As for Gordon?  I hated Gordon but he was such a pivotal character and I would have loved to have gotten inside his head at least a bit.  Why does he do what he does?  The way he uses manipulation, shame and sabotage against the woman he supposedly loves was astounding and eye-opening but how did he view his actions?

I also wish that we could have found out what happened to Paul, Goat etc. They helped play an important part in revitalizing Jillian's sense of self so I would have loved to have heard if they were still a part of Jillian's life.

My 'wish list' is meagre and I had to really hunt for things that could have possibly made this book even better.  Like I said earlier, I loved this book.  It's filled with emotion and edge-of-your-seat action that had me rooting for Jillian and so scared for her too.  This was a hard to put down book and I'm very eager to read more from this new author.

Highly recommended.

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Favourite Quotes:
"I'm surprised at the depth of his cruelty, amazed how irrelevant I've become.  Even as I hate him, I'm hurt by him, and a perverted part of me wants him to still love me." - Jillian

"A beautiful day. A beautiful family. I'm happy to pretend." - Jillian

"Fear paralyzes.  It replaces logical thought with a numbing inability to alter your destiny."

"Until you've almost died, you don't appreciate the tenuous tether you have to life, but when you come within a breath of your mortality, suddenly you become very aware of its precariousness.  And as insane as it is, and I acknowledge it's insane, I'm never so grateful for my life than the moment I realize Gordon didn't kill me." - Jillian

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