"In the night, in my imagination, there is no light where she is. Momma moves on the tips of her big fingers, scrabbling along on a dirty concrete floor like a spider. She is a spider. That is what she has become."
It is eleven years after, but Frances still wakes up from nightmares. She wakes up with the knowledge that the phone is going to ring...and its going to be her. It suffocates her. Even if it never happens. Eleven years after, but you don't get over something like that. Not easily, probably not ever. It is eleven years after Frances' mother suffocated her three sisters and attempted to suffocate Frances as well and now she's getting out of prison.
The book is set up with two alternating story lines. The first is present day with Frances in her new life, with her best friend and new love interest. The second is from her previous life when she was seven years old and her sisters were still alive. The chapters alternate back and forth between these two times and serves to show that even though Frances has come very far and lives a good safe life in the present it is all but impossible to completely escape the past. Especially after her mom's lawyer delivers a letter to her which only says that they need to meet so she can finish what she started. Frances is understandably freaked.
I was very strongly reminded of Andrea Yates when reading this book and I wonder if that is where the author got the idea for writing this story or at least based the mother on her (they even share the same hairstyle). It seemed to me that Frances' mother was suffering from deep post-partum depression and was slowly losing her grip on reality. Living in a remote area with a husband that was hardly around she was unable to get the help she needed. This was sort of hinted at in the book, but never directly mentioned, (the post-partum depression not basing the character on Ms. Yates).
After the mother is released from prison to a half-way house Frances and her boyfriend go on a road trip to find her and confront her. It is something that Frances feels she needs to do for closure. I loved the book up until this point. The story slowly unfolds giving you one or two more details every chapter. Introducing you to people from the past and their stories widen your knowledge of what happened. You see the mother as the spider that Frances imagines her as - dark, dangerous, insane, and wanting to finish what she started. Unfortunately the author throws in a plot twist that came completely out of left field and sort of ruined the book for me. It just felt thrown in, added on, it didn't mesh into the story. I was disappointed. Had it not been for that odd plot twist the character development and suspense would have made this an extremely fantastic read.