The School for Good Mothers, Jessamine Chan

I wanted to love this one. It has a dystopian esque premise that sounds appealing because I adore dystopian books. But the level of what feels like racism and horror done to Frida was just too much for me. It felt like no one was on her side, that things were allowed to happen that are just so far out there, I couldn’t handle it. I totally understand the point of dystopian is to play on our fears and to make things super far out there in a believable way, but it was beyond appropriate and unimaginably cruel. Poor Frida, she’s caught in a system that doesn’t allow mothers to make mistakes. Such is the state in the US, where helicopter parenting is the norm. I don’t say this to justify what happened to her because she made a mistake. But what she goes through isn’t a just or reasonable response that is beyond belief. It might have been more enjoyable for me if the book had been executed in a smoother format that read less tedious. Thank you, Simon & Schuster, for sending this along.

The School for Good Mothers is available for preorder on Amazon, Bookshop, and B&N, it releases January 4th.

About the Book:
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.


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