HOW FAR DOES THE APPLE REALLY FALL FROM THE TREE?
Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop was to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.
But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. Her foster sister, Phoebe, starts to bully her. A teacher betrays her trust. And her new best friend tempts her into behaving badly. They have no idea who they are dealing with.
As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.
When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter.
During the course of getting my Psychology degree the concept of Nature vs Nurture was embedded in practically every course in some way. Some believed it was a pure mix and others favored one more over the other. Myself? I’m still after all these years and with everything I’ve known and experienced a bit undecided but leaning towards Team Mix. There are times I feel Nature was going to win out even if the sociopath was raised by Leave it to Beaver standards. Other times I believe that growing up with a Charlies Manson like father could’ve turned even Jesus into Satan.
This concept, this question, journey into the deepest recess of the human mind is what Land decided to dabble with in her novel in such a way that innocence because a questionable ideal.
In all fairness to Land it has already been put out there that THIS is going to be THE controversial book of 2017. I recently read one from an esteemed Irish author that told a story through an abusive psychopath but I think Land may have even her beat when it comes to levels of being uncomfortable.
Right away it opens up with a disturbing scene of a child holding bloody items in a police stations and telling him a story so horrific he has to call others in. Police are trained to handle it all so you know whatever she’s telling him has got to be bad!
From this point you delve into a twisty, psychological journey into the rabbit hole of WTH? She’s dropped with a new family who has obvious problems of their own which is kind of ironic seeing as how Daddy Dearest is a psychologist. Why do I think their families should set the gold standard of decency yet they never seem to?
You are given pieces to the childhood that will shape Milly into being a person that turns her mother in, to someone who is struggling to fit into ‘normal’ society, to not fight back when she obviously should. At the same time, beyond how she was raised, the treatment she suffers at the hand of her peers just keeps packing on the Nurture argument that one person can only handle being treated like crap for so long before they surely need to break and lash out.
As a parent, particularly since I have daughters, I began to over-emphasize a great deal and wanted nothing more than to protect Milly so as she became more tormented by her peers and no one seemed to really notice or do anything constructive I was getting outraged on her behalf. Land just makes you start off wanting to protect her.
For the bad: I can see certain people being triggered by aspects of this book and I am so OVER that that word has to be used as prevalently as it does but it’s 2017 and everyone gets offended by something. It’s a very dark story and can be hard to handle for some. Now I prefaced this being the bad part only because I know there are people out there who need to hear this before they go nuts and give this a bad review – if you’re one of those people please just don’t read the book.
This is one of those that people are going to want to talk about particularly that ending that leaves you going “Oh hell”…
Thank you to Netgalley and Flatiron Books for allowing me to review this!
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