A mysterious plague that causes random bouts of violence is sweeping the nation. Now three generations of women must navigate their chilling new reality in this moving exploration of identity, cycles of abuse, and hope.
Chelsea Martin appears to be the perfect housewife: married to her high school sweetheart, the mother of two daughters, keeper of an immaculate home.
But Chelsea’s husband has turned their house into a prison; he has been abusing her for years, cutting off her independence, autonomy, and support. She has nowhere to turn, not even to her narcissistic mother, Patricia, who is more concerned with maintaining the appearance of an ideal family than she is with her daughter’s actual well-being. And Chelsea is worried that her daughters will be trapped just as she is–then a mysterious illness sweeps the nation.
Known as The Violence, this illness causes the infected to experience sudden, explosive bouts of animalistic rage and attack anyone in their path. But for Chelsea, the chaos and confusion the virus causes is an opportunity–and inspires a plan to liberate herself from her abuser.
This is not an easy book to read. Honestly, it should come wrapped in multiple layers of trigger warnings, and an author’s note states the issues this novel deals with (physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and includes animal death and graphic violence) before the story begins. Sadly, some of it is based on the author’s personal experiences.
Three generations of women – Patricia, her daughter Chelsea, and Chelsea’s daughter Ella are all victims of abuse in one form or another. After leaving a previous abusive relationship, Patricia is now in a loveless marriage of convenience to a wealthy man. Chelsea uses makeup to hide bruises and walks a daily tightrope around her husband, afraid of what might happen when he returns from work if something isn’t perfect in their home or he’s had a bad day. Ella takes her five-year-old sister and hides from him – he’s starting to take his rage out on her, and he could turn on her sister at any time. And then The Violence begins and people and pets are killed in brutal, violent ways. Soon after, due to various circumstances the women become separated and are unable to contact each other. As a pet lover, I had to skim several pages in this book – I couldn’t bring myself to read them – but the scenes aren’t for shock value. They convey the atrocities of the plague and what these characters experience.
Maybe you’re wondering why I read this book. I wanted these women to escape, live their best lives (even Patricia, who’s not very likeable at first), and watch their abusers get what they deserved. I felt like I needed to see them through this plague and know they’d be okay. That should tell you something about the outstanding character development. Speaking of Patricia, for me, she had a tremendous character arc and was transformed by the end.
Something I found difficult to buy into was a career decision Chelsea makes – it seemed a little too cheesy and far-fetched, although it works out for her. I came close to calling it quits at that point, but I’m so glad I finished.
The action starts immediately and once I began, I couldn’t shut the Kindle. At over five hundred pages, I read it in two days. Clearly this book isn’t for everyone, but if you decide to take the plunge you’ll find a powerful story about family and survival.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.