Tag Archives: Book Club

Review: The School for Good Mothers

The School for Good Mothers

The School for Good Mothers
By Jessamine Chan
Simon & Schuster, 9781982156121, January 4, 2022, 336pp.

The Short of It:

Loved this weird, quirky story about motherhood.

The Rest of It:

Frida leaves her toddler alone for a few hours and is reported to the authorities. Already struggling with her husband Gust leaving her for a younger woman, not able to find a career worthy or important enough to impress her parents, losing her child is the perfect ending to a very bad day.

But all is not lost because she has been sentenced to The School for Good Mothers. This school focuses on the basics of childcare, but gently builds to more complicated matters such as discipline, intent, empathy and the all important eye-contact and inflection and tone. And how is this accomplished? By assigning a life-like robot, or “doll” to each mother. One that requires the constant monitoring of the blue viscous goo that keeps them running. Failing to notice a rise in temperature, failure to change the doll’s fluid regularly, results in the loss of privileges such as phone calls home to her actual daughter, Harriet.

Frida, like most of the mothers in this school struggle with the idea of taking on a doll as their child. Let me tell you, these things are life-like and feel things. They express frustration and pain and it’s all recorded by the teachers and observers assigned to each mother. Data collection rarely points to the positives, but instead focuses on the one time Frida pinches her doll, leaving a permanent mark upon her form. The pressure to do well is palpable. Frida’s only goal is to get through it so she can get Harriet back but as she continues to lose her privileges, Harriet becomes more of a stranger as contact diminishes.

This was a surprise read for me. I am not sure what I expected but robotic dolls wasn’t it and yet I ate it up. Every word. It’s a strange story and very futuristic but if you compare it to today’s world, mothers are often given the short end of the stick when it comes to childcare. I really enjoyed Chan’s skill in regards to taking a reader through this experience without casting judgment on the parenting choices made.

Highly recommend but it isn’t a story to leave you all warm and fuzzy. It’s a little cold and sterile but I tend to like these kinds of reads.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Memorial Drive

Memorial Drive
Memorial Drive
By Natasha Trethewey
Ecco, 9780062248589, June 2021, 224pp.

The Short of It:

A beautiful, heartbreaking memoir. If memoirs aren’t your thing, don’t let that stop you from picking this one up.

The Rest of It:

“Natasha Trethewey was 19 when her mother was murdered by her stepfather in 1985. For decades, she hid the event, and memories of her mother, in the recesses of her mind while she went on to win a Pulitzer Prize and become the Poet Laureate of the United States. Now, decades later, she opens herself up to her past to produce a harrowing yet beautiful memorial.”
— Mike Hare, Northshire Saratoga, Saratoga Springs, NY

My book club chose this book for March. Initially I had a hard time finding a library copy so I went with the audio, which is just beautiful but just a few chapters in, I knew I’d want to own a copy so I bought the paperback. Trethewey is a poet so the passages are often heartbreakingly beautiful. I found myself reading a chapter and then taking a little time to sit with it before moving on to the next. I first heard about this book when Obama chose it for one of his “best of” lists. He’s not wrong.

Besides the beauty of the written word itself, I could not help but be affected by Trethewey’s grief and obvious pain over her mother’s death at the hand of her stepfather. Both mother and daughter dealt with his abuse. Steps were taken to ensure their safety, and yet the legal system still failed them. The murder took place in 1985 but really, when it comes to domestic violence not a whole lot has changed.

While reading this book, I was reminded of all the drama over Kanye and his recent threats to Pete Davidson, who is now dating Kanye’s ex. That celebrity couple is in the public eye. The rants and threats are made publicly and still, little is being done. Trevor Noah recently called it out. If a women like Kim K can’t feel protected, then who can?

While discussing this book, many of Trethewey’s poems were shared and they are just beautiful. If you decide to pick this book up, check out her other works too.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.