Screaming on the Inside: The Unsustainability of American Motherhood

There is no shortage of books devoted to the topic of parenting or, more specifically, motherhood. This abundance reveals the general insecurity many mothers feel around what should perhaps be the most natural of relationships. Rather than adding more fuel to that fire, Jessica Grose offers a different kind of parenting book. Screaming on the Inside is a compelling counterpoint to the social media-fication of motherhood. Grose systematically unravels decades of history, as well as the cultural and media pressures that have combined to create an unrealistic image of the "perfect mother," arguing that "even if you consciously reject this litany of demands, they manage to worm their way into you."

The book explores such weighty issues as identity and work in seven substantial chapters, each relying on a depth of research (with endnotes for those wanting more information) usually found in more academic work, while still maintaining an open and accessible tone. Grose (Soulmates; Sad Desk Salad; Home Economics) concludes by inviting readers to consider the possibility of making meaningful change and offers examples of parents who have done exactly that. Throughout the book, she draws on her own experiences as a mother (often recounting what she describes as her own failures) and only occasionally struggles to maintain that difficult blend of conversational and scholarly. Ultimately, she suggests that "accepting and sitting with ambivalence, our own and other mothers', might be the most essential takeaway" from her book, urging readers to set aside any version of perfection and listen to themselves instead. --Sara Beth West, freelance reviewer and librarian

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