Thursday, January 9, 2020

Book Review: “The Need” by Helen Phillips

Reviewed by Jennifer Dupree, Circulations Supervisor of the Windham Public Library

One night while her husband is away, paleobotanist Molly hears an intruder. She’s alone with her children—four-year-old Viv and toddler Ben—and as she cowers in the bedroom, trying to figure out how best to keep them safe, the terror of her aloneness is palpable.

What (who) Molly ultimately discovers in her house propels this dystopian tale forward. This novel is at once unbelievable and completely believable. It is horrifying in the press of domesticity, the unyielding needs of Ben and Viv, the intense desire Molly must keep them safe, and her genuine confusion over how to do that. One decision leads to another and Molly is complicit in all that happens and doesn’t happen.

This book is fast-paced, suspenseful, and painfully beautiful. It’s about the complexities of being a mother, a wife, a human being. It’s about the dark side of getting what you’ve secretly wished for.
“The Need” is a wild look at what if, but it’s so thoughtfully crafted, so artfully written that it feels urgent, honest, and absolutely true. Fans of Emily St. John Mandel’s “Station Eleven” will find this similar in scope and tone.

What will Molly be able to bring herself to do when faced with the loss of her children and herself?

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