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The School for Good Mothers



by
Jessamine Chan

Edition
Hardcover edition
Publisher
Simon & Schuster
Imprint
Simon & Schuster (Adult)
ISBN
9781982156121
POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Language: Strong Language , Sexual Content: Strong Sexual Content/Themes , Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: Reference or Discussion , Violence: General , Language: Racial or Ethnic Epithet/Slur
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In this taut and explosive debut novel, one lapse in judgement lands a young mother in a government reform program where custody of her child hangs in the balance.

Frida Liu is struggling. She doesn’t have a career worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices. She can’t persuade her husband, Gust, to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Only with Harriet, their cherubic daughter, does Frida finally attain the perfection expected of her. Harriet may be all she has, but she is just enough.

Until Frida has a very bad day.

The state has its eyes on mothers like Frida. The ones who check their phones, letting their children get injured on the playground; who let their children walk home alone. Because of one moment of poor judgment, a host of government officials will now determine if Frida is a candidate for a Big Brother-like institution that measures the success or failure of a mother’s devotion.

Faced with the possibility of losing Harriet, Frida must prove that a bad mother can be redeemed. That she can learn to be good.

A searing page-turner that is also a transgressive novel of ideas about the perils of “perfect” upper-middle class parenting; the violence enacted upon women by both the state and, at times, one another; the systems that separate families; and the boundlessness of love, The School for Good Mothers introduces, in Frida, an everywoman for the ages. Using dark wit to explore the pains and joys of the deepest ties that bind us, Chan has written a modern literary classic.

POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Language: Strong Language , Sexual Content: Strong Sexual Content/Themes , Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: Reference or Discussion , Violence: General , Language: Racial or Ethnic Epithet/Slur

Details

Format

Print

Page Count

336

Trim Size

9" x 6"

Dewey

F

AR

0: points 0

Genre

Fic

Scholastic Reading Counts

0

JLG Release

Apr 2022

Book Genres

Dystopian, Science Fiction

Topics

Chinese American women. Single mothers. Motherhood. Parenting. Social control. Judgment. Mothers and daughters.

 

 


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Praise & Reviews

The Horn Book

DEBUT At 39, single Chinese American mother Frida is collapsing under the crushing burdens of her life. Exhausted from caring for sick toddler Muriel while trying to work from home and having been abandoned by husband Gust, who moved in with his beautiful younger mistress when Muriel was an infant, Frida goes AWOL for a couple of hours, just long enough for a neighbor to alert the authorities. The police turn Muriel over to Gust, and Frida is caught up in Philadelphia's revamped Child Protective Services, which sends her off to one of several Schools for Good Mothers to see if her maternal instincts can be rehabilitated. At the school, all the wayward mothers are assigned robot dolls that serve as stand-ins for the children they have failed; the children are programmed to behave in age-appropriate ways to challenge the mothers to do better. The women are probed, monitored, and psychoanalyzed, pushed to achieve an ever-changing standard of perfection in thought, word, deed, and emotion while the promise of reunification with their human children remains an elusive target. VERDICT Chan's stunning debut could not be timelier, leaving no stone unturned in its allusion to the real-life legal assaults constraining women today. Part-dystopian, part-prescient, impossible to put down and impossible to forget.-Beth Andersen, formerly at Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI

Praise & Reviews

The Horn Book

DEBUT At 39, single Chinese American mother Frida is collapsing under the crushing burdens of her life. Exhausted from caring for sick toddler Muriel while trying to work from home and having been abandoned by husband Gust, who moved in with his beautiful younger mistress when Muriel was an infant, Frida goes AWOL for a couple of hours, just long enough for a neighbor to alert the authorities. The police turn Muriel over to Gust, and Frida is caught up in Philadelphia's revamped Child Protective Services, which sends her off to one of several Schools for Good Mothers to see if her maternal instincts can be rehabilitated. At the school, all the wayward mothers are assigned robot dolls that serve as stand-ins for the children they have failed; the children are programmed to behave in age-appropriate ways to challenge the mothers to do better. The women are probed, monitored, and psychoanalyzed, pushed to achieve an ever-changing standard of perfection in thought, word, deed, and emotion while the promise of reunification with their human children remains an elusive target. VERDICT Chan's stunning debut could not be timelier, leaving no stone unturned in its allusion to the real-life legal assaults constraining women today. Part-dystopian, part-prescient, impossible to put down and impossible to forget.-Beth Andersen, formerly at Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI

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