The Mother-in-Law Cure

The Mother-In-Law Cure - Farha Z. Hasan

Thank you to patchwork Press for providing me with an egalley copy to review.

I spent 99% of the book thinking it was more like the mother-in-law CURSE rather than the cure, and only at the very final chapter did I finally understand why the title was “cure”. The book presents a good idea, and what came across as a potentially good execution judging from the summary, as well as a good amount of what I thought were fascinating mentions and explanations of the Pakistani culture. The story ends up falling flat in what I least expected: the plot.

Told in a way that was dubbed a “21st century fairy tale” each chapter starts off with a line from a fairy tale or nursery rhyme to set the tone. You have an evil mother-in-law that’s more of a cackling witch to her poor Snow White-Cinderella mix of a daughter-in-law. Seems promising, right? Sadly however some of the introductory lines to the chapters had their significance lost on me. I couldn’t understand why that specific line and how exactly it was significant.

The characters were wonderful – developed, strong, and vivid. But they didn’t seem to work well with the plot line. The tension was built from the beginning, rising as the situation in the family got more complex and at the same time unveiled itself to the reader. But after a certain point, and what I’d consider to be the climax of the whole novel, there was a standstill for some time where the story just flat lined and left me with a “well, what now?” type of reaction. The resolve was smushed quickly into the last couple of chapters, safe to say even just the last one, where we finally see our heroine sort out her problems, “grow a backbone”, and begin taking life into her own hands. But the situation with Baby, the story with Adnan and his own life, the few chapters that were told about Sonia and her life, they were dropped in a way that wasn’t satisfactory. The latter left my wondering why that was even significant part of the novel, if maybe to add a contrast to another person of Pakistani background going through a (somewhat) similar situation. Killing off some of the characters that were important to the further unraveling of the story wasn’t the way I expected this to go, and not the best way to take this, I think.

This one needed more time, perhaps even some cut and paste in terms of what parts of the plot could’ve been removed and which ones added, and the lack of a more complete, wrapped up kind of ending really showed as it made a huge difference between this being a simply “good” novel that it was rather than the promising and unusual tale I expected. It was like a bland dish without that seasoning that would spice it up. Perhaps there’s something I missed, but this isn’t the kind of fairy tale I’d find myself rereading before bed.