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Mama Tried: Dispatches from the Seamy Underbelly of Modern Parenting

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  351 ratings  ·  82 reviews
New Yorker cartoonist Emily Flake relates the hilarious horrors of pregnancy, birth, and early parenting in this funny, poignant, and beautifully illustrated book.

For most people, having a child doesn't go exactly as planned. Not many are willing to admit that not only did they dislike the early days of parenting, they sometimes hated it. MAMA TRIED is a relatable collect
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published October 6th 2015 by Grand Central Publishing
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3.80  · 
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 ·  351 ratings  ·  82 reviews

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David Schaafsma
Feb 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
A very funny--and hilariously profane and frank--book about parenting written and drawn by cartoonist Flake who also does cartoons for The New Yorker, The Onion, and so on.

Here's a page she shares on her website:

This is a book written by a woman for women who are pregnant or new mothers, not a middle aged guy, but I have kids. I read this because I read the wonderful Miseryland by Keiler Roberts, which is also in part about becoming a mother, showing it is n
A mix of occasionally-illustrated snarky essays and short comics-style works. Feels like a blog collection, though I'm not sure it is.

Basically, she walks through the process of having a kid -- conception, choosing a name, the actual birth, post-partum sex, breast-feeding, etc. and gives her take and experience (and curses a lot).

I picked it up because I recently became a stepparent, and wondered if any of her reflections would be therapeutic or illuminating. And I have a general interest in co
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This one got the fourth star from me because one night while I was reading it, I laughed so hard that I woke Charlie up. A funny li'l snapshot of my reality.
Rachel Kramer Bussel
Oct 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Mama Tried made me laugh out loud many, many times. No, I don't have kids yet, but am hoping to soon, and this book was both informative and a little disturbing. Let's just say, I'm glad I won't be raising kids in Brooklyn. But what I most appreciate about Flake's approach is that she's able to laugh at both herself and the parenting world around her and the chaos that having kids can bring to your life. Her essays are heartfelt and honest and spare very little about the sometimes harsh, sometim ...more
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic, memoir
I don't have kids, nor do I ever intend to, but this book made me laugh so many times, and empathize with my new-parent friends. I want to buy it for all of them.
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
This made me giggle but honestly came across as a little lazy especially having just read the very similar Kid Gloves. Flake does seem like a fun person to hang around/talk parenting craziness with. What I am most interested in is whatever deep psychological issues led her to spend the majority of her labor convincing herself she had gas pains and resulted in almost having her baby in a cab, my ultimate NYC nightmare!
Both cynical and sweet. Too crude for my taste, and I wasn't a fan of the art. Some of the essays/comics made me laugh, but the last essay was a huge bummer.
Alex Templeton
Apr 04, 2016 rated it liked it
A not-so-guilty pleasure of mine, now two years into motherhood, is to read accounts by other mothers who are not afraid to admit that pregnancy and those early days of parenting were kind of hilarious but in other ways really kind of sucked. I thoroughly enjoyed Flake's mini-essays and especially the cartoons that illustrated them. (The last one, about how you become aware of mortality after becoming a parent in a way that you never could at any other time in your life, was particularly you're- ...more
Emilia P
Jan 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comic-books
Yep yep yep. Flake, late of the New Yorker cartoonist staff, has a great sense of wanting to be a real good parent and also to be a really authentic version of herself. These things may sound compatible or mutually exclusive, depending on your point of view. Basically, in the upper-middle-class scheme of things, it's hard to maintain a common sense attitude when natural-birth, attachment parenting, mama is always right is one end of the spectrum, and hand-it-over, give-me-the-drugs is the other ...more
Nov 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was funny but not as funny as I had hoped from reviews. A fast read for sure, but not a lot of depth. Still, a fun read for a parent of a young child/children who enjoys an irreverent look at the trial-by-fire shit show that can be parenting :)
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. I liked that this book was mixed media. There were some pages that were full of text and then others that were completely drawings with minimal words. I liked the art style but thought the handwritten font was somewhat hard to read. I am rating this book slightly above average because of the good art, relatable subject matter, and times it made me chuckle and/or feel understood. That being said, some of the content in here just isn't my humor so it was "meh" for me, but thats totally ...more
Sep 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays
It's comforting to know that parenting challenges haven't changed all that much since 1985. The newest factor to make parents feel inadequate is the ubiquitous presence of social media in which everyone else feels free to judge while hiding behind carefully curated photos and clever quips. This combination graphic novel/short essay book explores parenting from pre-conception woes through toddler tantrums. My favorite sections include Baby Registries of the 1%, Baby Shower Activities, and Strolle ...more
Robbins Library
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jenny-recommends
"A tendency toward glibness can be a gift; it keeps you from panicking too quickly and can help leaven a heavy situation."

A fun, quick read about pregnancy, childbirth, and newborn care, with a coda about toddlers. The author lives in/near Park Slope, Brooklyn, a.k.a. Ground Zero of the yuppie/hipster parenting wars. She's an excellent observer of this environment and about early parenthood in general: Mama Tried is laugh-out-loud funny, sprinkled with gross, graphic, entirely true bits. Pages o
Ruth Covington
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I expected this to be all cartoons, and it was actually a mix of cartoons and essays or blog post-style writing. Strangely, I ended up enjoying the essays the most and thinking the author was the funniest and most irreverent here. I really liked that she focused not only on pregnancy and labor but on the total roller coaster of the newborn/postpartum phase and adjusting to motherhood. There’s even some stuff about toddlers. And her final, serious chapter was actually very sweet and touching. Ove ...more
Mar 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I picked this up after being impressed by Flake's comics in other publications. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, the written passages in this book did not showcase Flake's wit and creativity the way her illustrations do. I found most of the chapters to be disappointing, but the included illustrated scenes, graphs, and satirical advertisements were excellent. I'd read a graphic novel by Flake in a heartbeat, but probably never another book of hers that relies on the written passages so much.
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was funny and to-the-point, revealing the exact seamy underbelly of pregnancy and birth that the title promises. I already enjoyed Emily's New Yorker cartoons and enjoyed seeing them interspersed with raw, unvarnished stories from her life. Great for anyone who's ever been curious about having a baby or what that process entails.
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Written and drawn by a comic artist for the New Yorker, I found it to be comical, fun, and heartfelt. Essentially an illustrative memoir about the oddities and emotional rollercoaster mothers go through in pregnancy and early parenthood, it hit a little too close to home. I enjoyed it and have recommended it to friends going through similar experiences and looking for a relatable chuckle.
May 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
For a while, I have enjoyed this author's illustrations and Instagram posts - she's got a great sense of humor. Unsurprisingly, I also enjoy her immensely funny and real book about modern, middle-class, vaguely hipster motherhood.
Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: funny, memoir
Entertaining and more illuminating than I would have thought. Though not something I would normally probably be inclined towards, I was drawn in by Emily Flake's colorful illustrations and stayed for her acerbic wit.
May 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
I wish I didn't read this book. It wasn't really funny (only chuckled a few times), it felt very mom shaming (despite talking about how she hates mom shaming), the drawings were bad and weird/not pleasant to look at, and the last chapter was so depressing.
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I came across one of Flake's cartoons on the New Yorker and laughed aloud, so definitely had to get this book. The cartoons are the best part of it; the essays were still funny but the cartoons are the real meat of the book here.
Jan 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I really wanted to like this book. I've been on the lookout for a more authentic (read: crass, funny, and poignant) book about parenthood. This worth a few good laughs, but for the most part, I will walked away annoyed by the whole genre.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it liked it
I LOLed at some of the comics.
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of the best books on parenting I've read, both for its humor and its pathos.
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Irreverent, hysterical, and utterly honest.
*Ron Weasley - Read a book under 200 pages*
Sep 07, 2016 rated it liked it
What have I done!? Emily Flake writes about her experience as a new mother and parents experiences in general in a humorous and irreverent way that made it engaging even for someone like me to whom the thought of having to raise a kid is less than appealing. Of anywhere I expected to find Lovecraft references, this would have been the last place, and yet, to my joy, here they were. Love it.

One of my favorite illustrations features a woman, fingers tensed, eyes haunted, with the caption, “By now
Nov 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Even though I'm not this book's target audience (i.e. pregnant or raising young children) I am completely smitten with it. This book is basically everything I've ever wanted to hear about being a parent: no bullshit, no facade, no goddess-level condescension or cynical scare tactics. I'm so appreciative of Flake's no-holds-barred, self-aware, unflinching, realistic portrayal of modern motherhood - and despite the hard (and sometimes horrifying) truths she depicts here, in perfectly conversationa ...more
Iowa City Public Library
From Melody:

Emily Flake’s Mama Tried: Dispatches from the Seamy Underbelly of Modern Parenting hilariously pokes fun at experiences of expectant and first-time parents, particularly those of women who established careers and were fully independent thinkers before deciding to start a family.

At eight months pregnant myself, I peeled through the first third of her book, howling with laughter every few pages or so. I can identify with dealing with “swole” feet and eating cookies to make the baby kic
Feb 24, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfic
Third trimester... I'm tired. I feel awkward. I'm sore in new-to-me places. I'm looking for a laugh. You may remember my review of Situation Momedy? I literally laughed out loud at that one! This one? Not so much.

It's a very short read, with plenty of illustrations. The author is a cartoon artist for The New Yorker, so that's a pretty cool feature of the book.

However... the jokes fell a little flat for me. I know I won't be a perfect mom, but I don't plan to sit glassy-eyed in front of Netflix f
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Emily Flake was born in a town that featured a dancing bear fountain, a mural of ice cream eating elves, and an unnameable sense of dread. She got out of there and became an illustrator, cartoonist, and a writer. Her cartoons and illustrations have appeared in publications all over the world.

Above all, she means well.
“I'm not important, having a child is not an amazing feat, and my child, while extraordinarily important to and beloved by her parents, is not particularly special in the scheme of things.” 0 likes
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