The School For Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan
Rating: 3/5 Stars
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.
This will be a spoiler-free review! I was given an e-arc of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 🙂
This book is about a mother who ends up losing custody of her daughter after leaving her alone for a few hours. She then has two choices to make: either she goes to the school for good mothers for a year or she never gets to see her daughter again. She goes to the school for obvious reasons, she can’t lose her daughter.
I think the plot of this book is so unique and interesting! I have never read or heard of a book like this so it definitely drew me in from the beginning. The writing style is good and even though this book felt like it could drag on at times it still managed to keep my attention for the most part. It kept me wondering how it would end and how things would turn out for our main character Frida.
I did notice throughout the book how truly selfish Frida is though. She always claims everything is for her daughter but if you really look at her and the things she says you’ll see she does everything for herself and it’s always about herself. I think that also made it interesting because she’s almost trying convince you, the reader, as well as everyone around her that she is in fact a good mother who can’t lose her daughter.
Honestly, there are a lot of things I could bring up but I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone. I think this book feels like a classic. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future kids are reading this book in school and analyzing it, because it reads very much like a classic and there are so many things in this book that could be discussed on a deeper level. I think in that sense it’s incredibly done.
I thought the ending was interesting as well…I won’t give it away, but it was done well. It was another thing that could keep you wondering and thinking. I like how much this book made me think about Frida and her intentions.
I may not have loved Frida, but I didn’t hate her either. She did a lot of questionable things, but there were times where I could empathize for her and her situation. She definitely had some relatable moments and feelings.
Overall this is a good book and an interesting read. I think it brings up some interesting ideas and it has a lot of things in it that could be discussed on a deeper level. I would recommend this book if it sounds like something you would like. It’s not a new favorite of mine, but it’s definitely not a bad book. 🙂 I totally agree with it being a “modern literary classic”.