We all know parents who would not be friends except for the fact that their children are friends, or go to the same school, or are in the same playgroup. That seems to be the case in Cutting Teeth, where the mommies – and one daddy – probably wouldn’t hang out together at all if not for the playgroup.
When Nicole – who is convinced a catastrophic event is about to happen in New York City (because it’s on the Internet so it has to be true) – invites the playgroup families to her parents’ house at the beach it becomes obvious how dissimilar the families are.
Also obvious is a sense of desperation many of them have. Overbearing social climber Tiffany is desperate to prove she is not white trash (which is how she grew up) and will go to any lengths to get what she wants. Stay-at-Home-Daddy Rip is desperate to have another child partly because he believes he will have no purpose after his Hank starts school. Former debutante Leigh is so desperate to have another child through in vitro fertilization (to prove her son’s problems are not her fault) that she turns to crime.
The fun part is when all of these things play out during the long weekend, which also has Nicole obsessing over the end of the world, pregnant lesbian mom Susanna wondering about her relationship with wife Allie, and Rip’s wife Grace trying to prove she’s not a bad mother. Add to the mix nanny Tenzin, the “Tibetan Mary Poppins,” who has her own story to tell. And the kids: Harper, a 4-year-old diva and the only girl in the group; Hank, the overly sensitive little boy whose greatest desire is to have a princess dress; and hyperactive Chase who no one but Tenzin and, strangely, Tiffany can connect with or control.
One of the tests of a good book for me is whether I think about the characters when I’m not reading. About 100 pages from the end, before I picked it up for the day, I said to myself, “I wonder what Tiffany’s up to today?” And I don’t even like Tiffany!
Something Cutting Teeth reminded me of is that I don’t have to like a character to have her be my favorite. At different points in the book I liked and disliked all of them. But, together, they’re a fun and sometimes poignant package that I’m glad I got to know.
I received this book from NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review.
4 of 5