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Dog-Eared: Lovely Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel, Berkley

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Lovely Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel, Berkley. This pulp thriller was “ripped from the headlines,” as they say, inspired by the notorious murder case of Gypsy Rose Blanchard. In 2015, Blanchard conspired with an online boyfriend to stab her mother to death. Nicholas Godejohn, who actually did the deed, was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Blanchard got just 10 years. But in her case, the prison term seems just about right, as she truly was as much victim as perpetrator. After her arrest, a horrific backstory emerged. Dee Dee Blanchard had Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, a condition in which parents, in a bid for attention, sympathy, and sometimes money, depict their children as chronically ill, and even make them sick to keep the lie going. From the time Gypsy was a girl, her mom portrayed her as desperately ill. She shaved Gypsy's head to make it seem as if she were undergoing chemotherapy, subjected her to constant tests and unnecessary surgery, and forced her to live her life in a wheelchair.

The character of Rose Gold Watts is similarly victimized by her mother, Patty, but then discloses her secret and sends her mom to jail. Five years later, Patty is released, and Rose Gold actually allows her to move back in with her and her infant son, Adam. The story, told by the two narrators in alternating chapters, shows that both have malevolent intentions against the other. Readers will make some assumptions as the story unfolds. While the writing is somewhat pedestrian—which is justified, as these are blue-collar people talking their own language—the book is a page-turner, and picks up intensity as it gallops toward it end. Parts of the story reminded me of the great book and motion picture, Leave Her to Heaven, about a woman so possessive she is willing to die to frame her own sister for murder. It's that twisty. While the subject matter isn't fun or lighthearted, this is an engrossing beach read that will keep you guessing.


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