The School for Good Mothers

By Jessamine Chan, 2022 I wanted to love this book. It’s title and description promises precisely the kind of work I am calling for in my PhD thesis: stories that tell the truth about motherhood, that call into question the so-called “maternal instinct.” And this novel does exactly those things. However, an important aspect ofContinue reading “The School for Good Mothers”

The Lost Daughter

By Elena Ferrante, published 2006 (translated by Ann Goldstein) This book has received new attention lately thanks to a film version released on Netflix, starring Olivia Colman and directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal. The story features middle-aged Leda on a beach holiday, who becomes mildly obsessed with another vacationing family — particularly a young mother andContinue reading “The Lost Daughter”

(M)otherhood

By Pragya Agarwal, published 2021 I added this book to my TBR pile because of the title (which is the broad category of my research), and the fact that the description includes “reproductive justice.” (M)otherhood was not quite what I expected, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Pragya Agarwal provides plenty of scientific data alongside herContinue reading “(M)otherhood”

Giving Birth

From Dancing Girls and Other Stories, by Margaret Atwood, 1977 This short story is a brilliant meditation on the language we use for pregnancy, birth and motherhood, but also a study of the (much discussed) transformation that takes place when a person has a child. Rachel Cusk discussed this in her book, A Life’s Work,Continue reading “Giving Birth”

What My Mother And I Don’t Talk About

Ed. by Michele Filgate, 2019 I was immediately intrigued by the title of this book, and have been looking forward to reading it for months. It is a collection of essays by established writers about their relationships with their mothers. Most of those relationships are fraught, but not all. Some have overcome serious complications andContinue reading “What My Mother And I Don’t Talk About”

Revolutionary Road

By Richard Yates, published 1961 This is a novel many people know, if only for the broad strokes. Due to my area of research (and interest), I am going to consider it in terms of April’s desire to not have children and the supposed implications of her own childhood. April is a mother of twoContinue reading “Revolutionary Road”

The Farm

By Joanne Ramos, published 2019 The Farm is a place where surrogates for the super-rich live for nine months, kept safe and healthy — and under constant surveillance — until they deliver babies. They must adhere to an exercise regimen, play music for their bellies, and stick to a strict healthy diet. Jane, a singleContinue reading “The Farm”

Little Fires Everywhere

By Celeste Ng, published 2017. *contains spoilers* “Would you have been ready to be a good mother?” This is the central question of this novel, but it comes in the final 100 pages of the book. Prior to that, Celeste Ng welcomes us into Shaker Heights, a perfect community where residents don’t “see” race andContinue reading “Little Fires Everywhere”

The Push

It’s not often one of my usual “motherhood” novel picks are page-turners. I am fascinated by books about the realities of motherhood, particularly when they are contrasted with novels of the mid-20th century (and still today) that paint only rosy pictures of pregnancy, childbirth, and childrearing. It’s a good thing, since it is essentially myContinue reading “The Push”

Dept. of Speculation

By Jenny Offill, published 2014 This is my second novel by Jenny Offill. The first was Weather, which I loved. I really enjoyed this novel as well, but the trouble with reviewing her books is that it’s difficult to pin down what they’re about. It’s also what makes reading them so fun. Offill has aContinue reading “Dept. of Speculation”