The Atlantic

The Books Briefing: There’s No One Right Way to Be a Mother

Your weekly guide to the best in books
Source: Ben Curtis / AP

“Maternity entails its own unsettling journeys,” The Atlantic’s literary editor, Ann Hulbert, wrote earlier this year. It’s a statement that underscores the fact that motherhood can be fraught for many women, regardless of whether they have children. There’s no singular or “right” way to be a mother, and fiction and nonfiction works alike have been excavating the maternal role of women for years.

A 1979novel by Yuko Tsushima, which was recently translated into English, uses one single mother’s experience to explore what raising a child on your own is like, especially depicts an undocumented woman whose ambivalence about motherhood pushes back against the selfless-immigrant narrative, while the memoir by Vanessa McGrady illuminates some of the stressful situations that come with pursuing an open adoption.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

Related Interests

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic4 min readPolitics
Sudan and the Instagram Tragedy Hustle
The Sudan Meal Project and similar accounts claim to be helping—but they’re really just a ploy to get more followers.
The Atlantic9 min readPolitics
Debunking the Court’s Latest Death-Penalty Obsession
The conservative majority complains that capital-defense lawyers are making up claims at the last minute. It’s wrong.
The Atlantic3 min readPolitics
The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Kirsten’s Best-Laid Plans
The New York Senator and 2020 candidate isn’t where she thought she’d be at this point in the campaign. Plus: The Supreme Court weighs in on racial gerrymandering.