Editor’s Note from Kristen Beverly, HPB Buyer:
As a lover of psychological thrillers, when I first heard the plot of The Perfect Mother I was intrigued. It’s the story of a mother’s group and one of the babies goes missing. Seems simple enough. But place this mother’s group in the middle of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and add the fact that the baby goes missing while the moms are out partying together and things start to get more interesting. As the police hunt for the baby, the reader sees the lives of each of the mothers in the group put on full display. Marriages and friendships are put to the test as secrets are revealed about each character. This thriller definitely delivers the thrills – and Kerry Washington agrees. She’s already signed up to both produce and star in the movie! We procured this Q&A with author Aimee Molloy to tell us a little more about the book.
WHAT ARE THE ORIGINS OF THE PERFECT MOTHER?
After my first daughter was born in 2013, I signed up for September Babies, a new moms group in Brooklyn. I was a little skeptical about this initially, but the skepticism dissolved almost immediately. I had no family around to help and very little experience with infants. September Babies became my lifeline. Though some members met in person, most of our interaction was via a list serve—a place where people asked questions (Is this normal . . . ? Should I be worried . . . ? Will they ever sleep through the night?). I was blown away by the generosity and encouragement the members showed one another. Perhaps it was the sleep deprivation, but I envisioned us—a relative group of strangers—as a tribe of women who had banded together, and the question occurred to me: what if, God forbid, one of our babies went missing? I could see the members of the group, black war paint under our eyes, torches in hand, combing the streets until the baby was found. I remember I was riding the subway, my daughter strapped to my chest, and I pulled out a notebook, jotting down notes on this idea. A few years later, those notes became The Perfect Mother.
WHAT MAKES THIS BOOK RELEVANT TODAY?
The book centers on three main characters—Francie, Colette and Nell—and the issues they face, which are, I believe, the issues many women (and some men) face after their children are born. How isolating those first few months can feel. How hard it is to balance motherhood—and all the expectations and expert advice around how “best” to raise an infant—in addition to managing one’s career, maintaining a healthy, happy marriage, “getting back” your pre-baby body and so on.
There are also some larger issues that (unfortunately) feel particularly timely today: a frenzied right-wing media intent on blaming the women (they were, after all, out drinking when the baby went missing). Sexual harassment. Misogyny. Gender roles.
WHAT WAS YOUR WRITING PROCESS LIKE?
For the past decade, I have been writing non-fiction books, one on my own, and several others as a collaborator/ghostwriter. Although the idea for this novel was sparked after giving birth to my first daughter, it wasn’t until after my second was born two years later that I decided to give it a shot (truth be told, fiction was what I wanted to be doing all along). I made a decision: I would turn down all offers of work, hire a babysitter for twenty-five hours a week and give myself one year to write a novel. By this time, my youngest was eight months old, and I found that I no longer remembered what it was like to have an infant. So while my daughters were at home with the sitter, I sought out the cafes and coffee shops where new moms groups met and sat nearby, trying to catch snippets of their conversations, as I wrote the book.
WHO IS THE AUDIENCE FOR THE PERFECT MOTHER?
Of course moms, but I think the book will appeal to a wider audience, sparking conversations about gender roles and friendship, and the high-pressure expectations we place on new parents to do things in a sanctioned way. Also, early readers have reported that they couldn’t put the book down, calling it: “compulsively readable” (Kerry Washington); a “deeply insightful page-turner” (Kimberly McCreight); and “a fast-paced, twisty, engrossing read” (Megan Miranda)—so I hope The Perfect Mother appeals to people who simply enjoy the pleasure of a gripping story.
We hope you enjoyed this look Behind the Book. Be sure to visit your local Half Price Books to get a copy of this fascinating thriller!
Aimee Molloy is the author of the New York Times bestseller However Long the Night: Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls Triumph and the co-author of several non-fiction books, including Jantsen’s Gift, with Pam Cope. The Perfect Mother is her first novel. You can find her on Twitter @aimeenmolloy and on Instagram as @aimeemolloy718. Her debut fiction novel The Perfect Mother is available in Half Price Books stores and online at HPB.com while supplies last.