It takes a lot for me to actually cry when reading a book. I have to be perfectly in tune with the characters and really able to feel the despair or sorrow being described. Jessamine Chan was able to pull out all sorts of emotions from me while reading this book: frustration, longing, anxiety. This is the mark of a truly talented writer in my mind.
The main character, Frida, makes the inarguable mistake of leaving her toddler home alone while she runs an errand. She’s reported to CPS and is required to defend her parenting abilities. In this futuristic story, Frida is mandated to spend one year in a school for mothers who have also proven to be less than perfect mothers. She’s tasked with impossible tests, day in and out, all in the name of receiving custody when she is released.
I am not a mother but I was so able to clearly fit into Frida’s shoes because her desperation to be better and her commitment to her family is universal. This book reads like a horror novel at times (no gore, just shock at what the mothers are made to endure), a dystopian novel, and a cautionary tale of what could happen if we as a culture become consumed by the idea that there is a model for what a perfect parent (and person) should be.
This book will stay with me for a long time, and even after the tears, I’ll be eagerly anticipating Chan’s future work.
*Free ARC provided by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review*