Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Hush Little Baby

Hush Little Baby by Suzanne Redfearn
Grand Central Publishing, 10/8/13
Trade Paperback, 368 pages
ISBN-13: 9781455573202 

"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.

My Thoughts:

Hush Little Baby is an impressive debut novel by Suzanne Redfearn. From the outside Jillian Kane appears to have it all. Jill has just turned forty and has a successful career as an architect in Laguna Beach, CA. She has been married to Gordon, a handsome police officer, for nine years and they have two children, Drew (8) and Addie (4). But behind closed doors she is a victim of abuse and fears for her life and the safety of her kids. Jill has silently endured Gordon's control of her every move and hid the bruises from his abuse for years.
Jill reflects that:
"How easy it is to sabotage a life.
For a year, he’s used my vanity and pride to my own demise. While I’ve covered up his abuse, his deceit, his lies, he took every opportunity to flaunt, exaggerate, and advertise every mistake of mine. Like a magic trick, the illusion is seamless and unchallenged, and without another explanation, it’s believed."

And "Everything I’ve worked for and struggled for is gone. And why? I was a good wife. I fought to make it work, overlooked Gordon’s indiscretions, concealed his insanity, endured his abuse. And this is what I get?"

When Jill finally tells Gordon that she is leaving him, Gordon sets a plan in motion to discredit her and obtain sole custody of the kids. As Gordon's maneuvers and threatening behavior become more anger and outrageous, Jill is left with no choice but to find a chance to grab her kids and run. Later she admits "I want a break from the madness, a moment to pretend I am who I used to be—a respected member of society, a married, churchgoing, law-abiding, God-fearing citizen with two beautiful children, a husband, and an enviable life. Location 2587-2589Jill learns a few lessons about herself while on the run and while under dire circumstances she finds a way to fight back and stand up for the truth.

With short chapters and taunt scenes, Hush Little Baby, maintains a quick pace through most of the novel. It does slow down and lag in the middle, after Jill has escaped with the kids, but then the ending sends it back on its tension packed course to the end and the surprising climax. Considering the quality of this first novel, Redfearn certainly has the potential to write some future best-sellers.

The one drawback I saw in Hush Little Baby was the ease in which Drew and Addie accepted their flight from Gordon, who is always depicted as a great father. With something as serious as spousal abuse it might have behooved Redfearn to mention the probability of the children being abused in the future. I guess my thought is that if you are going to make spousal abuse a vital part of a novel's plot, then you need to seriously address the ramifications beyond the obvious. Early on Redfearn begins to broach the effect on Drew with a "toad incident," but then she leaves it at that.

Although not a perfect novel, this is a stunning debut. I'd highly recommend Hush Little Baby.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Hachette Book Group via Netgalley for review purposes.

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