Mum and Me
by Sasha May
AuthorHouse UK

"Then one morning she was gone. I thought the monster had gotten her... Then the monster opened the door and found me."

The narrator, Kaye, looks back on her childhood traumas, beginning with a happy memory with her mother. Then her mother’s secure grip becomes uncertain, and memories turn murky. Tension settles in as Kaye awakens and “the monster” appears, the house taking shape through the eyes of five-year-old Kaye. May skillfully makes us understand the terror of it, of how Kaye is thoroughly vulnerable. The monster becomes the thread in this story. It is her stepfather, but sometimes it is her mother. Kaye endures the maltreatment, desperately trying to protect her younger brother, and clings to hope for the return of her biological father and brother. She continuously seeks her detached mother’s love, who turns cold and unsympathetic.

As a teenager, Kaye matures and discovers herself. She is now more confident in the face of her stepfather’s abuse. She lives a kind of nomadic existence, searching for a place to call home. She waits for her mother’s love and support but finds disappointment. Growing into adulthood, Kaye discovers love and loss in various relationships, becoming a mother to a little girl, Sky. But Kaye’s medical condition concerns her as she tries to protect her daughter from her own past and be the mother she never had. Then Kaye unexpectedly reconnects with her own mother.

This small book is written with honesty and raw power. May’s narrator is a strong woman coming to terms with the deep and long-lasting effects of abuse. For some reason, she indicates the book is three short stories, but overall it feels like one complete novel. May begins strongly with the harrowing, dreamy, and tension-filled memories captured from a child’s view. Some of that power is lost a bit as Kaye ages into adulthood, but it is still a complex, affecting, and tender read of a woman’s journey.

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