Ah, yes. The book has been sitting on my shelf since I started my Book of the Month Club membership over a year ago. Why had I not ever picked this book up before? To be quite fair and honest, I had picked this book up multiple times over the past year, even going as far as to reading the first few chapters or so before putting it down and picking up another book. It seems almost a typical case of literary abandon where you pick out more books than you ever could possibly finding yourself reading and throwing them down to the back depths of your closet until you decide to pick it up again months after.
My first impressions of the book was that it was going to be the obnoxious kind of literary fiction that I absolutely adore and devour at any possible given chance at reading. This book has a throw up amount of little faux pins strewn across the front of the book. These pins vary from colorful rainbows to bomb figures up and down the spine of the book. There even is what I thought was a band-aid on the middle and the front cover but I now believe for it to be a couple of pills strewn along the front cover as well. The main title is in plain font, all caps, at the front of the book in big bold letterings. The pins and the title is lain on what looks like a crumbled up white piece of paper from behind.
Everything about the front cover screams “disorganized chaos” but in a very creative, almost manic sense. Everything screams that we’re happy to be reading this book before we’ve even cracked open the cover, and perhaps we’re even a little too happy to be reading this book. If I had read anything about this book before purchasing it I don’t remember, but I do remember it was the same month I decided to tack on “The Knockout Queen” to my order, so something tells me I believed I wouldn’t be getting into this book first. I remember being more interested in reading “The Knockout Queen” (which you need to read if you haven’t) that this book was probably thrown along the wayside fast upon arrival. However, I did decide to flip through a few pages before reading the book and let me tell you. If you are the kind of person to be offended by cursing and sexual content, maybe this book isn’t the best for you. If you are like me however and have a kinky sex freak of an imagination, then perhaps you have just found a golden egg to read. The amount of “f*#k” that I was able to pick out from the flip through, and the amount of creative scenery was definitely not what I was expecting.
With that being said, you don’t need to curse like a sailor and make raunchy scenes to drive your point across. However, I don’t see writers taking this pathway often, especially ones that are able to accomplish this very well without it drawing too much away from the plot.
This book is about a new mommy playgroup, and is not exactly what I would consider rock n’ roll kosher enough to have this kind of scenery and language added into it’s book. With that being said, I happily raised an eyebrow and started into this book to see exactly where the author was going with this.
The Case of Claire
After reading the book, I thought long and hard about what opinions I had especially of the main character, Claire. Was Claire necessary and integral to the plot? This question first started peaking it’s ugly head yesterday as I stirred milk into my morning coffee. Something about Claire resonated with me, and not in a good way. There was something that seemed unnecessary about her to the plot, almost as if she was an onlooker to the entire conundrum that is the Poinson Playgroup of Park Avenue. Then it hit me– Claire reminded me of Nick Callaway from The Great Gatsby.
Before you start shooting laser beams at my forehead through your computer screens, let me make my case for this comparison. Claire does not seem to share any purpose to this plot except to inch it further along. In this way, she seems to be the backspring for everything else going on in the plot.
If it wasn’t for Claire, the playgroup would have never found out about the TrueMommy supplements, or the mystery surrounding the supplements. She also was who cracked open the case a few times with a lot of the other smaller plots. It makes me really question whether or not we would have even had a book if it wasn’t for Claire deciding to take up a gig as a guitarist singing for babies after her career as a singer took a nose dive.
Despite everyone else changing in the book– Whitney, Amara, and Gwen in particular– Claire pretty much stays the same. She is not effected essentially like the other moms in this book. Despite being changed by the bonds she has made with this women, her life continues on the same trajectory it would have been going on if she hadn’t stepped in and laid her neck out for the members of the playgroup.
“What are you talking about, Destiny? Claire does change! She changes the most out of any of the other moms combined!” Yes, I know but she also seems to exist solely for the others to find out about the supplements. Do you see where I’m going here? Yes, Claire starts off the book as an acute alcoholic hell bent on self destruction. Somehow she suddenly becomes saved by relying on the playgroup mother’s for their wisdom. What else does she have to offer us as far as characterization goes? Where is her full place in the plot?
To help further flesh out Claire in my mind, I didn’t have to look much further than the acknowledgement page to find out more about the author. I didn’t know anything about Laura Hankin before reading this book, but I was able to read at least a little more about her based off of the acknowledgement page. Laura Hankin is also a singer, and had sang for children and playgroups during her time as a struggling writer before finding her voice for this book. I am going out on a ledge here and inferring that while Claire may not be a direct characterization based on the author herself, she probably embodies at least a few of the author’s own traits as well. She was probably based a little bit in part of the author writing this book, and in which case the writer probably is telling the story through Claire’s eyes as it is her own way of seeing the plot events unfold throughout her book.
Down With the Patriarchy
One of the biggest themes in this book is the theme of the patriarchy, specifically on the ever changing views we have as a society on how mom’s are supposed to be these ethereal, superhero beings that can seemingly do it all and have to look good while doing it. This is an echoed theme we see everyday in our social media timelines for one, and Whitney is shown as the perfect wife and mother through her Instagram famous accounts. Despite appearing to be the perfect mother however, Whitney has her own secrets and is by the end of the book made out to be once again just another mother trying to struggle through society’s troubling and sometimes very ardent and complicated views of women.
This book is really trying to prove a statement that Motherhood isn’t a walk in the park and that as mom’s every woman is struggling. Perhaps it would be made easier as a bonded group of women if we were more likely to stand up for one another as the mom’s in the book do. Overall, I do think there is a few good takeaways with this theme, and how the heroine’s of the book are able to topple the patriarchy in their own small slice is ingenious in its own way, and makes me feel a little bit more proud of strong mothers after reading it.
Overall, I give this book a solid 3/5 stars.
This book is a quick read and will slip through your fingertips quickly once you start reading it. There are a few strong feminist themes in the book, and there is some sexual content as well as strong language. Overall though, I believe this book was well written for what it was and was a quick Spring read.