By Julia Fierro
St. Martin’s Press, 2014
Nicole (mother of Wyatt) invites her Friday afternoon mommy group (and their toddler-aged kids and spouses) to her family’s ramshackle Long Island beach house for Labor Day weekend. The mommy group will never be the same.
Set over the course of four days, the book is narrated from each of the four mother’s perspectives, plus the perspective of the one “mommy daddy” in the group and one nanny, a Tibetan woman named Tenzin, giving the reader access to all of their worries, judgments, former dreams and future ambitions. Nicole is an obsessive worrier who plans this getaway in part because she believes some sort of catastrophic event will happen over the weekend and she wants to be away from New York City when it happens. She manages her anxiety with marijuana and anti-anxiety pills. Two of the mothers, Tiffany and Leigh, are best friends but are struggling over how to share Tenzin’s work schedule. Susanna, mother of twin boys and pregnant with a third, is a former artist, who feels disconnected from her wife Allie, a successful artist. And Rip enjoys his unique status in the group, while hiding his attraction to Tiffany, and trying to feel connected with his wife, Grace, who doesn’t want a second child as much as he does.
I much enjoyed Cutting Teeth and found all the characters to be very human, longing for connection and visibility in the world. This book reads like a time capsule of 21st century parenting—Fierro does a great job bringing to life the contemporary child-parent dynamic, where parents spend so much energy tending to and doting on their children. She also explores the tensions that arise in couples when one partner works and the other is the primary caregiver. The book is not very plot driven, the story revolves around the interpersonal dynamics of the group, but Fierro captures domestic details so well that reading this book felt like I was watching a movie. And she also has a terrific sense of humor. She’s able to get inside the heads of her characters while poking at them at the same time. I don’t think I’ve laughed out loud so much while reading a book since Nick Hornby’s About a Boy.
A friend gave me a copy of this book.