A 14-Year-Old Becomes Her Mother’s Confidant
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As a book blogger, I was approached by Adrienne Brodeur’s publicist to review her newest book, Little Monsters. I read it, and liked it just fine. As I wrote my review and did a little research on the author, I learned about Wild Game, an earlier book that is a memoir. Frankly, it sounded more compelling than the fictional work I had just finished.
Both stories are about dysfunctional families. Both families harbor a secret. Little Monsters features two adult children and the dad who raised them after the long-ago death of the mother. The secret is hinted at but not revealed until later in the book. With Wild Game, the secret is exposed right up front.
Let me set the stage, then give the big reveal. First of all, with the exception of the author, and her birth parents, all names are fictitious. That said, when Adrienne Brodeur was eight, her mother, Malabar, married “Charles Greenwood.” Charles was life-long friends with a man named “Ben Souther” and by extension, with Ben’s wife, “Lily.” The two couples were very close. It was shocking, therefore, when Malabar woke Adrienne up one night to confide in her – “Ben Souther just kissed me.” In this manner, fourteen-year-old Adrienne became her mother’s confidant.
Right from the get go I wondered if I would fall for the plot taking this course if it were fiction. But as we come to see the reasons for Adrienne’s choices, they add up to being believable. First of all, she was “thrilled to have landed a starring role in her mother’s drama.” Adrienne’s brother was not invited into this private club, thus fulfilling her dream to be the favorite child. Additionally, Adrienne is aware of the many reasons her mother has been depressed at this point in her life. There was the mother’s difficult childhood, and the child she lost years ago, not to mention a health situation with Charles that altered her marriage to him from day one. All this adds together to make Adrienne tell her mom, “After all you’ve been through, you deserve this.”
Malabar tells Adrienne, “Of course, I don’t want to hurt Charles. I’d rather die than cause him more grief. That’s my top priority. Charles must never find out.”
And so, Malabar starts on what becomes a decade-long affair. Adrienne starts off as confidant but soon comes to facilitate time together for Malabar and Ben. And before long, she is helping to hatch plots for them to have even more time together, not to mention her intervention when their affair threatens to become public. Oddly, Adrienne’s choice of husband for herself in her early 20s is also greatly impacted by her mother’s situation.
I found all this to be compelling. Every time I put the book down, I was eager to pick it back up and see what would happen next. And of the two books by Adrienne Brodeur, this was my favorite. If you read both, let me know what you think!
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