Review of The Perfect Mother, by Aimee Molloy

I initially won a paperback copy of Aimee Molloy‘s The Perfect Mother through Goodreads. However, in order to get it read, I chose to borrow an audio copy of it from the library for a road trip.

Description:

They call themselves the May Mothers—a collection of new moms who gave birth in the same month. Twice a week, with strollers in tow, they get together in Prospect Park, seeking refuge from the isolation of new motherhood; sharing the fears, joys, and anxieties of their new child-centered lives.

When the group’s members agree to meet for drinks at a hip local bar, they have in mind a casual evening of fun, a brief break from their daily routine. But on this sultry Fourth of July night during the hottest summer in Brooklyn’s history, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is abducted from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but the May Mothers insisted that everything would be fine. Now Midas is missing, the police are asking disturbing questions, and Winnie’s very private life has become fodder for a ravenous media.

Though none of the other members in the group are close to the reserved Winnie, three of them will go to increasingly risky lengths to help her find her son. And as the police bungle the investigation and the media begin to scrutinize the mothers in the days that follow, damaging secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are formed and fractured.

Review:

Honestly, this is a hard one for me to review. There are certain kinds of books that I just don’t particularly enjoy, and this is one of them. Of course, I didn’t realize that until I’d gotten into the book, and that left me with the choice to DNF or muscle through it. I chose to finish it. Being objective, the writing is perfectly readable and (as I had the audio-book) the narration by Cristin Milioti is very good as well. But 9.5 hours of new mother anxiety nearly broke me.

I’ll grant that any woman who has had children in the last decade or so will recognize the pressure to be perfect, the mommy competition, the stress and anxiety caused by parenting an infant in the world of social media, etc. (I imagine every generation has some version of this). But any positive feeling engendered by relating to this aspect of the characters was eclipsed by the fact that the mothers (and one father) of this book were basically neurotic. Yes, parenting a newborn is hard. Yes, the characters of this book are subjected to additional stressors. But 300+ pages of “OMG, my Baaaaby!” felt like about an eternity to me. I hated them all by the end.

I suppose the best I can say is that if you like this sort of book, the sort where women agonize over being women, then read this. For me, I’m just glad to be finished.

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