This month, the Kveller Book Club is reading The Mothers by Jennifer Gilmore. Learn more about the book below and then enter our giveaway to win a copy.
Jennifer Gilmore’s book The Mothers is not a memoir. Yes, Gilmore herself did go through the excruciating journey into attempted adoption covered by the novel, but this is not her story. The story she has written, however a fictional account, is deep, resonant, and powerfully real.
I’m a big reader, but it is rare, for me, that a book can so thoroughly sink me into the world of someone else’s circumstances and mind as The Mothers did. Gilmore is terrific at making her characters palpably real, warts and all. Jessie, a woman looking to adopt a child with her husband, Ramon, after a prolonged fertility struggle, is “prickly,” to be charitable. At times, she can be a bitch on wheels, whether to her husband, her parents, her friends, or to herself.
But it’s testament to Gilmore’s skill that, as her readers, we’re not put off by Jessie’s snippiness: instead, we truly get it, on a visceral level. Gilmore *makes* us get it. After all, if we had to fill out infinite questionnaires, sit through interviews with questionable “experts,” and submit imploring letters with photos of ourselves and our partners in front of a “seasonal plant” to get a child, we’d be pretty bitchy too.
“I realize I’ve been in a bad mood for like four years now,” Jessie tells her friend upon hearing, with that horrible mixture of happiness and sadness, that the friend is pregnant with her second child. But Jessie’s self-awareness doesn’t make the struggle any easier: if anything, it only more acutely communicates the pain involved.
This book is a wide-eyed window into the adoption process, as Jessie and Ramon craft letters to hypothetical birthmothers, go to information sessions, and have appointments with social service agencies. But more than that, it’s a window into what it means to crave to be a mother and to care for a child, and what “motherhood” actually means.
Anyone who reads this book will come away touched and with more understanding of an intimate struggle usually held close to the vest. In writing this book, Gilmore has done us all a great service–facilitating our ability to understand one another, as parents and would-be parents, and the workings of the human heart.
Please join the Kveller Book Club as we read The Mothers this month. We’ve got one copy to giveaway. To enter, fill out the form below and we’ll choose a winner this Friday, April 19th. You can also purchase the book here, and a portion of the proceeds will go to support Kveller.