Thursday, February 2, 2017

Mini-reviews: The Mother Letters and Moxyland

Amber and Seth Haines had three children in three years and Seth could see his wife was exhausted and frustrated by the million things that go into caring for small children every day. So he reached out to friends and writers to draft letters detailing the struggles and joy of being a mom. Each letter is encouraging and reminds mothers that we are not alone when we find a crayon in the dryer or can't figure out what to make for dinner (again) with a table full of picky eaters.

There is a whole market of books like this, where the writer (or writers) try to give encouragement to parents. Parenting is, as my mom likes to put it, "the hardest job you will ever love." It is exhausting on every single level, but this kind of book often comes across as trite and sappy in the face of very real struggles. Fortunately The Mother Letters manages to escape this, perhaps because it features so many women with different stories and writing styles. This would be a perfect gift to give to a new mom or one who has been parenting for many years. It's a wonderful book to have on your shelf to dip into at the end of a long day and remember that other moms have walked exactly where you are now. Make sure you pick up the print version, because the book itself  is beautiful!

The Mother Letters:
Sharing the Laughter, Joys, Struggles, and Hope
By Amber C. Haines and Seth Haines
Fleming H. Revel Company April 2016
192 pages
Read via Netgalley

It's 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa and citizens are increasingly controlled by a police state that operates through technology. Kendra has recently been injected with nanotechnology that makes her a walking, glowing billboard for a popular soft drink. Toby is a blogger who mouths off about the wealthy, while surrounding himself with luxury goods. Lerato works for a giant corporation, but she isn't sure she can stay loyal to their practices. Tendeka wants to protest against a corrupt government by encouraging local teens to vandalize their city. While they don't know each other at the opening of the book, their lives will soon intersect in surprising ways.

I have read and really loved (or been creeped out by?) other books by Lauren Beukes. She is such an imaginative writer. But this one fell a bit flat for me. Each character wants to fight the system that is oppressing them, but it's tough to keep reading a story where everything seems hopeless and the methods of the oppressed are often no better than those of the oppressor. Beukes certainly has interesting ideas here and added a new voice to dystopian writing, but it is easy to see how she has grown as an author from this book to her more recent novels The Shining Girls and Broken Monsters

By Lauren Beukes
Mulholland Books August 2016 (originally published 2008)
320 pages
Read via Netgalley


  1. It's a shame that Moxyland was a bit of a miss for you. I think I'm going to give both of these a try though, especially The Mother Letters.

    1. Let me know what you think when you read them!

  2. Oh, I'll have to look into The Mother Letters - thanks for sharing!

    1. I think it would be a great pick for you. I hope you love it!