This story does have some hard parts to read. There are a few detailed descriptions of sexual abuse, physiological abuse, and mental abuse. Maude's mother continually tells her that she hates her, and is jealous of the concern her husband has for Maude. She constantly tells Maude that she is trying too hard to get her father's attention, but she also laughs at times with Maude. The mother/daughter relationship is awkward and unloving, although it seems as though the mother does have feelings for her daughter, because of her own upbringing she doesn't know how to show or be appropriate to her daughter. Maude's mother was raised by Maude's father is a sort of incestuous grooming relationship.
The father seems to be the main abuser in this story, but throughout most of it, it seems as though he is a sad old man who is controlling because he has nothing better to do. There are several uncomfortable scenes, but throughout the mother seems to be crueler than the father. Included in the abusive, imprisoned upbringing, there are several instances of animal abuse. These instances are used to teach Maude and the animal, which further separates her and causes her to be depressed, self-abusive, and so very alone.
After saying all of this about the book, I do have to say that I didn't think it was as well written as it could have been. For a story of an abusive upbringing I felt that the author distanced herself too far from the situation, and this made the book a little flat. Yes, there were horrifying moments, but they didn't resonate as hard as they could have if there was some emotion behind them. I understand why the author has distanced herself, but this created a book that I didn't feel I could connect with, or feel for. There were few moments that I felt upset by what was happening, but most of these moments were things that happened to animals, so obviously the author has a strong connection with the animals.
I can't say I would or would not recommend this book. I think some people may be more disturbed by it than I was. I wanted to feel more, and some might not want to feel what the author was going through. However, that being said, it is an interesting look into a controlling, abusive, and dysfunctional family.