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That Kind of Mother

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3.06  ·  Rating details ·  4,503 ratings  ·  699 reviews
From the celebrated author of Rich and Pretty, a novel about the families we fight to build and those we fight to keep

Like many first-time mothers, Rebecca Stone finds herself both deeply in love with her newborn son and deeply overwhelmed. Struggling to juggle the demands of motherhood with her own aspirations and feeling utterly alone in the process, she reaches out to t
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Hardcover, 291 pages
Published May 8th 2018 by Ecco
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Coral Ward I'm just guessing and I think you have answered the question yourself in part. Yes, Rebecca was fairly clueless regarding the everyday existence and…moreI'm just guessing and I think you have answered the question yourself in part. Yes, Rebecca was fairly clueless regarding the everyday existence and challenges of a black person in the USA. Cheryl and Ian get really angry with her in the conversation about growing up a black male and tell her she wasn't listening. "And you don't even see me". I think it was the frustration of that lack of awareness. Also Cheryl explains part of her anger in the end as she says how she is not perfect and has her own demons. Cheryl is still dealing with loss of family and Rebecca hasn't appreciated that enough in her desire to have Andrew Why did Rebecca never go to to Cheryl's house? What does that say about Rebecca, how could she not realise that was wrong, it indicates something very insensitive about her. I think the power imbalance due to the status of being black was not understood by Rebecca and Cheryl was very angry about that. But as I said, I'm only guessing. Love to hear what other people thought.(less)

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3.06  · 
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 ·  4,503 ratings  ·  699 reviews


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Celeste Ng
THAT KIND OF MOTHER dives deep into big questions about parenthood, adoption, and race: Is mothering something learned, or that you're born to? How far can good intentions stretch? And most of all, can love can really overcome the boundaries of race and class? With his unerring eye for nuance and unsparing sense of irony, Rumaan Alam's second novel is both heartfelt and thought-provoking.
Jennifer Blankfein
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rebecca Stone desperately needs help with her newborn and Pricilla, a La Leche nurse from the hospital comes to her rescue. Pricilla, having mothering experience herself as she was a single, teen mom many years ago, leaves her job at the hospital to becomes the nanny for Rebecca’s baby. Rebecca feels close to Pricilla, confiding in her and voicing her fears, hopes and dreams while learning how to care for her child and what it means to be a mother; she looks up to her and relies on her stability ...more
Angela M
May 11, 2018 marked it as setting-aside
Setting this aside . May come back to it at another time . Just not connecting .
Melissa
May 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book was simultaneously beautifully written and intensely boring. I kept waiting for something to happen, but nothing really did. Even the big things that happened felt so small. I think the book was just too subtle for my liking. I think I would have enjoyed it more as a short story.
Emily
May 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
2.5 stars

I didn’t pick this book up to read about a privileged white woman who never really addressed her privileged whiteness.
karen
Jun 05, 2018 marked it as to-read


my new quarterly literary fiction box from pagehabit has arrived!! better get cracking!
Erin Glover
After reading 50 pages about breast feeding and La Leche League, I didn't understand how this book got published. It describes the mundane aspects of early motherhood in too much detail. Really, who cares about what it takes to get an infant to latch onto the breast? Who cares that it's colostrum, not milk that comes out at first? Not mothers. Been there, done that. All of us could have written those 50 pages. I almost stopped reading. Then the story finally moves along and we see the first 50 p ...more
Tess
May 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I wanted to love this. And while it is excellently written, line by line, I became increasingly frustrated and annoyed as the novel wore on with the characters and in many ways, the plot itself, which started to seem irrational.

There are parts of motherhood, and the trauma/chaos of giving birth, and the loneliness/exhaustion/tedium of tending to young children, that this male author gets exactly right, and the stream of consciousness way he relates those feelings are at times, quite beautiful.
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Mary
May 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: may-2018, library, div-c, m, div-a
If you're looking for an insightful, though provoking book about the struggles of a white woman (Rebecca) raising a black boy, you won't find that here. There are almost no difficulties and that those that do occur are how they impact Rebecca not the child and the novel seems to have rewarded her for adopting this child with success as a poet. Frankly I'm surprised this was written by a man of color, without the author information I would have assumed a white woman wrote this.
Hpnyknits
May 22, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It’s rare for me to despise a character so much, but Rebecca, the main character is just so self involved privileged selfish woman, and she is supposed to be sympathetic? The premise of her adopting an African American baby, on a whim, is so far fetched, it’s insensitive. And the casual way it gets done- completely unrealistic. The author deals a tiny bit with the complex ideas of trans racial adoption, but so shallow and ignorant.
It’s a huge missed opportunity. It’s an interesting and rich top
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Naima Coster
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read THAT KIND OF MOTHER because I was intrigued primarily by the situation the book would examine: an interracial family made by adoption, a relationship between two women across lines of race and class, and the differences between two brothers in society who are equally beloved by their mother. I was curious about the potential for drama here, and I did not expect to find myself so immersed in the mind of just one character in this web of complicated relationships. THAT KIND OF MOTHER offers ...more
Ellen Gail
May 19, 2018 marked it as to-read
Have I read this yet? No.

Has Penny snuggled with it? Yes. And it was adorable. May this book be as good as the kitty snuggling it.

Afoma Umesi
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really oscillated between three and four stars for this one.

Rebecca Stone, a white woman in the 80’s bonds with her black nursing coach, Priscilla. The women strike an odd friendship that continues for a few years until Priscilla becomes pregnant and dies in childbirth. Rebecca decides to adopt Priscilla’s son. The story is a slow exploration of the lives of Rebecca, her sons, family and Priscilla’s family for the next decade.


This is a very quiet novel. Alam’s writing is incisive and often me
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Stephanie
May 16, 2018 rated it liked it
The description of this book was more interesting to me than the actual book. I didn't find Rebecca interesting or likable and I felt the the author danced around the issues of race that were raised in the story. All in all I just was left wanting there to be more to the story.
Canadian
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ginger
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I would give this six stars if I could. Excellent writing, excellent story.
Ella
It is so much harder to review things I like. I just noticed that most of my favorite books from this year's reading are left without reviews - that's because when I like something, I often can't tell you why. Here's what I noticed about this book: I expected it to be more hard-hitting in the areas of cross-cultural or cross-racial adoption, but it wasn't (which was nice.) I also expected more stupid white people, to be honest, but all of the characters come with their own unique strengths and w ...more
Paige
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary, giveaways
Rebecca thinks she is an optimist. Why wouldn't she be? Things have always turned out fine for her. Turns out that her optimism may just be white privilege.
This book seems like it's going to tackle race issues, but it's more of an exploration into one woman's life. Yes, she has a black son, so race is a theme, but it wasn't touched on as heavily as I thought it would be. It was very clear that Rebecca is oblivious to her privilege, and though I found her thoughts interesting, she was also infuri
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Jessica
This was a mismatch of expectations. I've heard raves about how it's SO! GOOD! and was quite underwhelmed.

It's about interracial adoption and touches on the various liberal white views of racism through the 80s and 90s, yes, but...it only touches on them. Briefly. From "all skin is the same" to "isn't America color blind now?" many problematic views are laid out, but only barely talked about.

I thought we were going to dive deep and really get into the issues of a (mostly clueless) white family
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Denise Cormaney
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
I’m so disappointed. I need to remember that anything under 3.5 on GoodReads is a risk! I heard a stellar review of this book on a podcast from someone with whom I usually share taste in books, so I overlooked the 3.1 score. I need to remember that GoodReads > Podcasts.

This book had great potential! But the themes it was supposed to explore (race, adoption, etc) were barely touched upon. Seriously, barely. There was the obligatory story about driving while black and an anecdote about a teache
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Emily
I'm on a "quiet novels about women's interior live"s kick, apparently. The set-up for this - a white woman adopts her black nanny's son after the nanny dies in childbirth - makes it sound much more issue driven than it is, although Alam does weave insights about race throughout. More than anything, though, this is a coming-of-middle-age story. The writing is lovely, and the details of Rebecca's life, the passing mentions about the news, about her career, about her husband, give it specificity th ...more
Samantha
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poc-author-2018
I don't know if I'll ever recover from how well Rumaan Alam writes women. He does it incredibly well in Rich and Pretty, and he does it again in That Kind of Mother.

Of course, I can't relate to motherhood, but I can still relate to a lot of Rebecca and her world - sometimes in ways I don't necessarily want to admit, alas here we are. This book deals with a lot of issues, all with care and complexity. I remain a fan, and can't wait to see what comes next.
Michelle
Apr 08, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2018
I went back and forth on my feelings for this book. I liked that it was set in the 90’s and cultural references were weaved throughout the story (minus the blatant Starbucks references). I liked that it was a cast of diverse characters. I liked some of the descriptions of motherhood.

I did not particularly care for the main character, Rebecca. I did not find her storyline as a poet believable. I found it hard to reconcile the two main parts of the story: where she adopts Andrew and where she is
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Jeanne Lucier
Jul 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
Self-absorbed protagonist, who never wanted to be, “ that mother who constantly talks about her kids,” became just that person; losing herself in motherhood willingly, with no clue how boring she is.
eb
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Alam gets motherhood so exactly right—the simultaneous and entirely opposed feelings, the physical sensations, the loneliness, the pleasures. The plot of this novel hums along interestingly, and the issues it tackles (interracial adoption, well-meaning but clueless white liberalism) are interesting, too, but I would have loved the book even if those elements were excised, leaving nothing but the paragraphs about breastfeeding and childbirth. And not that the tones are remotely the same, but in i ...more
Vivek Tejuja
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Some books grow on you. They take their time for you to also grow on them. “That Kind of Mother” is one such book. It isn’t an easy book to get into. The prose is basic (or so it seems), the writing is simple (never a bad thing in my opinion) and characters are shown in black and white (till there is an outburst of every colour imaginable). Till it isn’t all of that and becomes something else altogether. You see the change coming and yet you do not. You seem prepared and you aren’t. Know what I ...more
Kalen
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-reads
**** 1/2

Loved this book though I'm not usually one for books about motherhood. But I was drawn to this one in part because the author, Rumaan Alam, is not a woman and in part because everyone raves about his first book, Rich and Pretty. Most men don't write female characters in convincing, meaningful ways but Alam does.

I've got a few small quibbles including the situation with Ian which was never mentioned again and the tension between Cheryl and Rebecca didn't play the role it could have have
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Stephanie Cowart
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
There are plenty of male authors who can write female characters but Rumaan Alam is not one of them. I didn’t like Rich and Pretty either but thought I would try this one because it’s on the Modern Mrs Darcy summer list and it is about adoption. I was not impressed. The main character Rebecca was just strange - not a typical mother and I am sure that’s what he was going for but so much of what she did and how she lived was very unrealistic in my opinion. And the adoption was just....there - like ...more
Sonya
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2018, 2018
This novel is less about motherhood than it is about morality. It will generate rich book club discussions. The book doesn't find its groove until about 20% in, so be patient. Spoilers below.


(view spoiler)
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KrisTina
Aug 14, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
STUPID. I hated the writing style - I found the story disjointed and lame and don't even get me started about how the daughter of the nanny is soooo weird. Their relationship didn't make sense. I think another "summer read" pick by MMD - and man - I need to just stop following her because I do believe she is a sell-out. And she needs to stop trying to make me buy her books. Okay - I'm done ranting. But really - this is a don't waste your time book. I'm embarrassed that I wasted mine.
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I'm the author of two novels, with a third on the way in 2021. My stories have appeared in StoryQuarterly, Crazyhorse, Meridian, and elsewhere. I've also written for the New York Times, the New Yorker, the New Republic, the Wall Street Journal, and other publications. I studied writing at Oberlin College. Now I live in New York with my husband and two kids.
“The television has done something to us. To human beings. We can see so much, but maybe we weren’t made to see this much. Maybe it’s too much.” 1 likes
“Rebecca didn’t know what was the better luck: to have a bad parent you’re ever trying to outperform or a good one to whom you can never hope to catch up.” 1 likes
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