Welcome back to the bookclub! In June, we read Just Like Mother by Anne Heltzel for The You’ll Read Too Bookclub! If you wish to access all of the latest updates/information, click here. Spoilers ahead!
Quick Reminder: This month we are reading ‘The Deep’ by Nick Cutter!
Today I’m going to discuss the book in the same way I normally do my Instagram videos. You can find the recorded talk on my bookclub Instagram page. I’ll give a quick plot summary plus my overall star/scare-factor ratings. Then I will share the discussion topics and trivia questions. Please include all of your answers and opinions down below. I want to know exactly what you thought. I’ll also leave the answers to the trivia questions at the very bottom of the post, so if you wish to guess without being spoiled, do not scroll to the end until you’re ready. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
JUST LIKE MOTHER by ANNE HELTZEL – JUNE 2022
The last time Maeve saw her cousin was the night she escaped the cult they were raised in. For the past two decades, Maeve has worked hard to build a normal life in New York City, where she keeps everything – and everyone – at a safe distance. When Andrea suddenly reappears, Maeve regains the only true friend she’s ever had. Soon, she’s spending more time at Andrea’s remote Catskills estate than in her own cramped apartment. Maeve doesn’t even mind that her cousin’s wealthy work friends clearly disapprove of her single lifestyle. After all, Andrea has made her fortune in the fertility industry and baby fever comes with the territory. The more Maeve immerses herself in Andrea’s world, the more disconnected she feels from her life back in the city; and the cousins’ increasing attachment triggers memories Maeve has fought hard to bury. But confronting the terrors of her childhood may be the only way for Maeve to transcend the nightmare still to come…
OVERALL STAR RATING
I gave this book a star rating of 5/5! This is definitely my favourite read of 2022. It has been so long since a story had me this hooked. I blew through it in three days and trust me, that’s saying something as a mother of a toddler. Even though it was fairly predictable, I didn’t care. I just wanted more and more. It was so gripping, well-told and full of suspense. I need this turned into a Netflix series or film. It’s perfection!
OVERALL SCARE-FACTOR RATING
I gave it a scare-factor rating of 4/5 stars, It was extremely disturbing, with a chilling ending. I wish the dolls had been featured more but the real horror lay in the psychological manipulation endured by Maeve. ‘Hell is other people’ as the famous quote says. Please note the trigger warnings for sexual assault, miscarriages and post-partum depression.
1.) Discuss the multiple meanings of the title “Just Like Mother.”
I interpreted the title of this story in multiple ways. 1.) Andrea ends up becoming just like the mothers in the cult from her childhood. 2.) She fashions the dolls to resemble her deceased baby, who happens to look just like her. 3.) She wants her cousin Maeve – who resembles her – to be like the crazed cult leaders. It’s such a clever and perfect title. Can you think of more ways it works?
2.) How did history end up repeating itself for Maeve?
The cult she escaped as a child and tried to put behind her, ended up trying to brainwash her once more as an adult. She was forced to confront her deepest fears and attempt to escape all over again. Worst of all, the children she gives birth to, wind up repeating the cycle. It’s fifty shades of messed up.
3.) What narrative is the author trying to tell us about female empowerment in this day and age?
The author is childless by choice. I believe she wanted her readers not to succumb to the pressures of society and view motherhood as the only successful thing a woman can do. Women are so much more than their ability to reproduce. She uses characters like Andrea and Emily to exaggerate the limitations this type of thinking can have.
Easy: What was the name of the cult?
Medium: What was the name given to women who reject motherhood?
Hard: What was the name of Maeve’s medication?
I hope you enjoyed the book club discussion in this post and on Instagram. As mentioned above, share all of your thoughts in the comments below! If you have any feedback/suggestions to improve the bookclub, please let me know. I look forward to talking to you all next month! Thanks for reading!
Peace & Love xoxo
TRIVIA ANSWERS: Easy: The Mother Collective. Medium: Bloody Mary. Hard: Klonopin.