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Baby Teeth: 08/30/20
Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage is about a horrible family: a horrible father, a horrible mother, and a horrible child where the mother and daughter are in a constant cage match for the father's adoration. The novel is narrated in alternating points of view between Hanna, the child, and Suzette, the mother. The father, who is probably the worst of them, though, gets to keep his thoughts to himself.
Hanna is seven, though there are some flashbacks to when she was younger. She has never spoken until this year. When she does speak, she insists that she is the reincarnation — or perhaps possessed by — a French woman executed for being a witch.
For two thirds of the novel we're given enough information to believe that Hanna has developed a hatred for her mother. She is bad to the bone and should be removed from the household for Suzette's well-being. What we're not given is the why and the how behind her hatred. For a long while we're left to either accept the possession story or just take that she is somehow inherently bad.
But if you look at the the way Alex, the husband and father in this novel, is described and the way he interacts with both Hanna and Suzette when he is around, a different interpretation surfaces. Alex is the worst of them all and has probably been sexually abusing / grooming Hanna since infancy. He is the reason she has become the monster she is.
Baby Teeth could be a very scathing depiction of sexual predators in the home. But that portrayal is stymied by slow pacing and the ridiculous ghost-witch tangent.