Ms. Jackson crafts a finely paced, shrewdly observed, multi-tiered story which moves with ease between past and present. Older events that prompt current actions are uncovered; pressing issues of class, race and sexual abuse are viscerally dramatized ... a thinking (and feeling) reader’s thriller, a literary beach read.
Mother-daughter relationships take center stage in Jackson’s latest novel, which digs into how far each will go for the other ... Suspense readers will enjoy plot twists and motivations that hit close to home (despite a somewhat predictable ending), but the novel’s depth lies in exploring the role of a mother to protect and teach her children. Are we destined to remain our mother’s child, surrounded by her protection, no more responsible to others than she taught us?
Two types of readers will be drawn to Mother May I...The first group includes lovers of complex tales written with swift pacing and tense narratives. While they’ll certainly enjoy most of the book, some will view it as a story that could have been told with about 50 fewer pages...The second group includes those who appreciate denser domestic dramas that dwell on deeply rendered emotions, rich character backstories, and 'ideas to talk about at book club.' Thanks to Jackson’s deep roots in the South, uncanny empathy, and storytelling talent, book clubs will talk about Mother May I in glowing terms for a long time ... Everything that happens during the story takes place in about 48 hours, with finely plotted, character-driven twists that force Bree to probe her own psyche for clues to the motivations of that scary old woman. But because the story is so character-driven there are several points where the action is lulled by long passages delving into the past to deepen the context of what’s happening now ... While that will probably muffle the story’s appeal among those who prefer more rapid-fire pacing, it’s a winning approach for engaging those book club readers who crave stories that beg for interesting discussion, and another fine book by a writer who expertly mines the potential for danger in the everyday places those readers know so well.