American Mother

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for American Mother:

Family dinners must be awkward.

Quick synopsis:

The story of a 1986 true crime case where people were killed by tainted medicine.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

Cyanide smells like bitter almonds. Stick to peanuts.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

Anything I’d say here is a spoiler. Just know you need to read the whole book all the way to the end.

My Take on American Mother:

If you think your family has problems, wait until you read this book.

Gregg Olsen chronicles the story of a pair of cyanide poisonings in the late 1980s. This is actually an update of a book Olsen already published called Bitter Almonds. Does it matter? Not at all. The book is a great read and a must for any true crime nut.

Sure, the book is about the murders and how the case played out. There are twists and turns and the book would be good without anything else. However, this book becomes great because of the attention Olsen pays to the upbringing of the accused murderer and her daughter. A true crime case becomes a meditation and graphic illustration of how families perpetuate abuse through every generation. You may find yourself feeling sorry for some less than stellar people even if for just a second. Except for the weird juror. She just seems disturbed.

(This book was provided to me as an advance copy by Netgalley and Thread Books.)

Verdict:

A great true crime book. Read it. Buy it here!

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American Mother by Gregg Olsen
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