Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Review: That Kind of Mother

Summary: Like many first-time mothers, Rebecca Stone finds herself both deeply in love with her newborn son and deeply overwhelmed. Struggling to juggle the demands of motherhood with her own aspirations and feeling utterly alone in the process, she reaches out to the only person at the hospital who offers her any real help—Priscilla Johnson—and begs her to come home with them as her son’s nanny.

Priscilla’s presence quickly does as much to shake up Rebecca’s perception of the world as it does to stabilize her life. Rebecca is white, and Priscilla is black, and through their relationship, Rebecca finds herself confronting, for the first time, the blind spots of her own privilege. She feels profoundly connected to the woman who essentially taught her what it means to be a mother. When Priscilla dies unexpectedly in childbirth, Rebecca steps forward to adopt the baby. But she is unprepared for what it means to be a white mother with a black son. As she soon learns, navigating motherhood for her is a matter of learning how to raise two children whom she loves with equal ferocity, but whom the world is determined to treat differently.

Written with the warmth and psychological acuity that defined his debut, Rumaan Alam has crafted a remarkable novel about the lives we choose, and the lives that are chosen for us. -- Ecco

I've been a fan of Rumaan Alam since I read his novel RICH AND PRETTY. And while I definitely think he's a fantastic writer, I will admit that his twitter feed might even be more entertaining. You can just tell he's smart and witty, but it's the way he describes his interactions with his kids that just cracks me up!

Well now that I've read his latest novel THAT KIND OF MOTHER, I am even more certain of my assertions. He is a beautiful writer and extremely insightful about human nature. And I'm not alone with these thoughts. This novel was named a most anticipated book of 2018 by Buzzfeed, The Boston Globe, The Millions, InStyle, Southern Living, Vogue and Popsugar.

THAT KIND OF MOTHER tells the story of Rebecca Stone, a new mother that many women will relate to. She's madly in love with her son but she's also feeling very overwhelmed by motherhood. When she meets Priscilla at the hospital, she knows that this special woman is the help she's needs.

She hires Priscilla to be her nanny, and Priscilla opens up Rebecca's world in many ways. Priscilla is a black woman; and Rebecca starts seeing the difference between the races, especially when it comes to white privilege. Rebecca depends on and cares deeply about Priscilla, so when Priscilla dies unexpectedly in childbirth, Rebecca decides that she wants to bring up Priscilla's son.

As wonderful as Rebecca's intentions are, she quickly realizes just how much she misses Priscilla and how hard it is to bring up a baby, nevertheless two! She also starts to see that bringing up a black child when you're white has its own set of challenges. As much as she loves both of her sons, she can't deny that the world we live in treats them very differently based on the color of their skin.

THAT KIND OF MOTHER is a beautiful story about motherhood, race, privilege, loss, and most importantly, love. I really enjoyed this novel, and it touched my heart deeply. It also forced me to think about many of the issues we face including how different it is to be black and bringing up sons in today's world.

I hate to even say this because I sound so backward, but I can't believe a man wrote this novel. Mr. Alam captured the love of a mother perfectly as well as those first-time mom fears, while also bringing to light many of the issues of race in society. He created a character in Rebecca that was so real, and yet so flawed... and I found her extremely interesting.

It truly is special how Mr. Alam portrayed parenthood on so many different levels in this novel. Not only did Rebecca experience the challenges we all have with being a first-time mom (and eventually a single mom), but she also dealt with the challenges of adopting a child including dealing with the child's biological family. Furthermore, Rebecca was a white woman trying to bring up a black child... and she really had little, if any, idea of the challenges that would bring. I loved how she always wanted to do the right thing, and I felt for her that she kept facing difficulties.

I thoroughly enjoyed THAT KIND OF MOTHER and think it's a terrific book for book clubs. As you can see, there are so many important issues including race and parenting that are worthy of discussion. Highly recommended.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


Dorothy N said...

I am so glad I read your blog today featuring the book, That Kind of Mother. I have never heard of the author, Rumann Alam before. Your wonderful review of the book has made me very curious to read it so I have added it to my TBR. Thank you once again for your well-written review.

bermudaonion said...

I thought this was a good one too. I'd like to get my book club to read it.