The School for Good Mothers
Books | Fiction / Literary
Longlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel Longlisted for the 2023 Carnegie Medal for Excellence Shortlisted for The Center for Fiction 2022 First Novel Prize Selected as One of Barack Obama’s Favorite Books of 2022! In this New York Times bestseller and Today show Read with Jenna Book Club Pick, one lapse in judgement lands a young mother in a government reform program where custody of her child hangs in the balance, in this “surreal” (People), “remarkable” (Vogue), and “infuriatingly timely” (The New York Times Book Review) debut novel.Frida Liu is struggling. She doesn’t have a career worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices. She can’t persuade her husband, Gust, to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Only with Harriet, their cherubic daughter, does Frida finally attain the perfection expected of her. Harriet may be all she has, but she is just enough. Until Frida has a very bad day. The state has its eye on mothers like Frida. The ones who check their phones, letting their children get injured on the playground; who let their children walk home alone. Because of one moment of poor judgement, a host of government officials will now determine if Frida is a candidate for a Big Brother-like institution that measures the success or failure of a mother’s devotion. Faced with the possibility of losing Harriet, Frida must prove that a bad mother can be redeemed. That she can learn to be good. An “intense” (Oprah Daily), “captivating” (Today) page-turner that is also a transgressive novel of ideas about the perils of “perfect” upper-middle class parenting; the violence enacted upon women by both the state and, at times, one another; the systems that separate families; and the boundlessness of love, The School for Good Mothers introduces, in Frida, an everywoman for the ages. Using dark wit to explore the pains and joys of the deepest ties that bind us, Chan has written a modern literary classic.
Simon and Schuster
Community ReviewsSee all
"I don’t normally read dystopian novels but this was very interesting. A mother has a very bad week and leaves her young child home alone and gets reported to CPS which results in her child getting taken away and her being forced to go to a school to learn to be a good mother, complete with robot children to help them become better mothers. Hard to read and it definitely felt like a horror movie, as I am a mother and we have all had bad days and it felt scary to imagine being judged for every minor infraction."
"⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Oooh I loved the way this one started. As a mom myself, this hit a lot of nerves. Punishing moms for things sometimes outside of their control, the way the fathers are not being watched under the same microscope, painful feelings of jealousy towards stepparents. It really hit them all in a unique way. I found a couple of the chapters particularly the ones surrounding the cleaning of the dolls to be really disturbing and I didn’t necessarily understand the point of it being on the story. Trigger warning, some suicide scenes and suicidal ideation. This book upset me deeply and will stay with me for a long time. I really enjoyed it. "
"It was all right. The first 25% was a little slow and repetitive. Also some things in the book were so ridiculous it was just silly and made me laugh. It was almost like a parody, but I don’t think that was the author’s goal. She could have toned it down a little and still have written a compelling social commentary. "
"⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25 Wow…. I was in an emotional rollercoaster while reading this. Mostly anger and heartache. Although I though the middle-ish section was very slow and kinda boring to read, and in some of those parts I didn’t love the way the story was written. The beginning and ending kept me at the edge of seat. The book really explores the pressure they put on mothers to be perfect and left me in heartache. It was dystopian-esc (I wouldn’t say a true dystopian), but also felt so realistic that it can happen or is already happening. Overall I enjoyed the book."
"⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25 Wow…. I was in an emotional rollercoaster while reading this. Mostly anger and heartache. Although I thought the middle-ish section was very slow and kinda boring to read, and in some of those parts I didn’t love the way the story was written. The beginning and ending kept me at the edge of seat. The book really explores the pressure they put on mothers to be perfect and left me in heartache. It was dystopian-esc (I wouldn’t say a true dystopian), but also felt so realistic that it can happen or is already happening. Overall I enjoyed the book."