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Motherest: A Novel
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Published:
Grand Central Publishing 2017
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Description
Marrying the sharp insights of Jenny Offill with the dark humor of Maria Semple, Motherest is an inventive and moving coming-of-age novel that captures the pain of fractured family life, the heat of new love, and the particular magic of the female friendship — all through the lens of a fraying daughter-mother bond. It's the early 1990s, and Agnes is running out of people she can count on. A new college student, she is caught between the broken home she leaves behind and the wilderness of campus life. What she needs most is her mother, who has seemingly disappeared, and her brother, who left the family tragically a few years prior. As Agnes falls into new romance, mines female friendships for intimacy, and struggles to find her footing, she writes letters to her mother, both to conjure a closeness they never had and to try to translate her experiences to herself. When she finds out she is pregnant, Agnes begins to contend with what it means to be a mother and, in some ways, what it means to be your own mother.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
08/01/2017
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781538744505
ASIN:
B01N9E44L5
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Kristen Iskandrian. (2017). Motherest: A Novel. Grand Central Publishing.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Kristen Iskandrian. 2017. Motherest: A Novel. Grand Central Publishing.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Kristen Iskandrian, Motherest: A Novel. Grand Central Publishing, 2017.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Kristen Iskandrian. Motherest: A Novel. Grand Central Publishing, 2017. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 18:29:32
Date Updated:
Dec 06, 2020 02:47:11
Last Metadata Check:
May 02, 2021 10:22:43
Last Metadata Change:
Aug 22, 2020 17:09:23
Last Availability Check:
May 02, 2021 10:22:46
Last Availability Change:
Jul 09, 2019 23:27:02
Last Grouped Work Modification Time:
May 07, 2021 02:27:39

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      • bioText: Kristen Iskandrian's work has been published or is forthcoming in Tin House, Zyzzyva, Crazyhorse, EPOCH, and Plougshares, among others. Her story "The Inheritors" was included in The O. Henry Prize Stories 2014 as a Juror Favorite. She was a juror for The O. Henry Prize Stories 2015 along with Tessa Hadley and Michael Parker. Born in Philadelphia, Kristen currently lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her husband and two daughters.
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Marrying the sharp insights of Jenny Offill with the dark humor of Maria Semple, Motherest is an inventive and moving coming-of-age novel that captures the pain of fractured family life, the heat of new love, and the particular magic of the female friendship — all through the lens of a fraying daughter-mother bond.
It's the early 1990s, and Agnes is running out of people she can count on. A new college student, she is caught between the broken home she leaves behind and the wilderness of campus life. What she needs most is her mother, who has seemingly disappeared, and her brother, who left the family tragically a few years prior.
As Agnes falls into new romance, mines female friendships for intimacy, and struggles to find her footing, she writes letters to her mother, both to conjure a closeness they never had and to try to translate her experiences to herself. When she finds out she is pregnant, Agnes begins to contend with what it means to be a mother and, in...
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fullDescription
Marrying the sharp insights of Jenny Offill with the dark humor of Maria Semple, Motherest is an inventive and moving coming-of-age novel that captures the pain of fractured family life, the heat of new love, and the particular magic of the female friendship — all through the lens of a fraying daughter-mother bond.
It's the early 1990s, and Agnes is running out of people she can count on. A new college student, she is caught between the broken home she leaves behind and the wilderness of campus life. What she needs most is her mother, who has seemingly disappeared, and her brother, who left the family tragically a few years prior.
As Agnes falls into new romance, mines female friendships for intimacy, and struggles to find her footing, she writes letters to her mother, both to conjure a closeness they never had and to try to translate her experiences to herself. When she finds out she is pregnant, Agnes begins to contend with what it means to be a mother and, in some ways, what it means to be your own mother.
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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Nathan Hill, New York Times bestselling author of The Nix
      • content: MOTHEREST is a moving story of loss and loneliness and parenthood and love, in all their vast human multitudes. It's an intensely perceptive and honest novel about the sometimes-unbridgeable gap between parents and children. Kristen Iskandrian's narrator is an extraordinary character: a woman searching desperately for connection, an island trying to become a peninsula. You will want to yell at her, as I did, and you will want to cry with her, as I did, and you will be transfixed until the very last page.
      • premium: False
      • source: Porochista Khakpour, author of The Last Illusion
      • content: One of the most unforgettable protagonists I've read in recent years - as if a Dickens heroine was reimagined by a literary girl gang made up of Deb Olin Unferth, Katherine Dunn and Lydia Davis.
      • premium: False
      • source: Laura van den Berg, author of Find Me
      • content: An utterly thrilling voice, and MOTHEREST will slay you with its inventive, spiky, and heartrending investigation into the dark mysteries of family life - and the quest for a private identity within it. A smart, gorgeous, and singular debut.
      • premium: False
      • source:

        Tao Lin, author of Taipei

      • content: I highly enjoyed MOTHEREST — a powerful, moving, complex, wry, sensitive novel about crying, laughing, waiting, leaving, pain, loss, endurance, secrets, surprises, ambivalence, possession, parents, pregnancy, childbirth, college, home, and love.
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from June 26, 2017
        Iskandrian’s stellar first novel is set in the early ’90s, as college freshman Agnes, adjusting to life away from home, learns her mother has left her father. As a coping mechanism, she begins writing letters to the absent woman, though she has no idea where her mother is and cannot mail them. Each letter is a kind of journal entry that reveals her intimate moments: sexual encounters, drunken revelry, and lingering thoughts about her older brother, Simon, who committed suicide three years earlier. These letters continue after Agnes becomes pregnant by her Nirvana-obsessed ex and moves back home for the summer. Agnes and her father wade into the mystery of pregnancy together, complete with visits to the local clinic and meetings for single mothers, and their relationship wavers as Agnes’s due date approaches and they cope with the empty spaces left by Agnes’s mother and Simon. Iskandrian’s debut is sharp and honest, recounting Agnes’s journey in a crafty mix of first-person narration and epistolary forms, and Agnes’s voice charms with a subtle undercurrent of humor and sarcasm making this a delightful and satisfying reading experience. Iskandrian is a writer to watch. Agent: Emma Patterson, Brandt & Hochman Literary.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from June 15, 2017
        Conventional wisdom says that when a teenager has a baby, her life is ruined.But this isn't always true. In fact, it can be the opposite. For pragmatic and wryly observant Agnes, getting pregnant during her first year of college was both unplanned and inevitable. Like many young adults, she and boyfriend Tea Rose had frequent unprotected sex and were seemingly oblivious to the risk of pregnancy. Or maybe her unconscious was at play. After all, when Agnes began her studies, she was still grieving the recent suicide of her older brother, Simon. On top of this, her mother had disappeared, abruptly leaving husband and child for an unknown destination. To say that Agnes is forlorn and in need of human connection is an understatement, but she is intellectually savvy and able to compartmentalize, so she throws herself into academia with relish and success. She also becomes thoroughly entwined with Tea Rose--at least until he dumps her for someone else. By that point Agnes knows she's pregnant and opts to keep the child. This is not because she is anti-abortion but because she can't face abandoning the fetus as she has been abandoned by her mom and brother. And although her dad tries, he is essentially clueless, perhaps because he too is befuddled by mourning and monumental loss. Instead, there's Joan, a quirky but devoted friend, who plays an essential role in the face of Agnes' near-constant emotional and physical crises. As the story unfolds, letters Agnes writes to her absent mother--they are, of course, never mailed--are juxtaposed with an otherwise straightforward first-person narrative to form a diarylike peek into the young woman's meandering mind. Taken together, they form a tableau that is heartbreaking, hilarious, and poignant--often at the same time. A powerfully perceptive story written with love, realism, and humor and that feels fresh despite the familiar terrain.

        COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        May 15, 2017

        DEBUT O. Henry Prize winner Iskandrian's debut novel starts as a nostalgic tale about the 1990s, with a pastiche of tropes to signal the era. Nirvana is the real thing, and Kurt Cobain's suicide devastates Tea Rose. In their first year in college, Tea Rose impregnates girlfriend Agnes, who has a panic attack during an obligatory scene at a Planned Parenthood clinic and tries to forget about being pregnant. Yet, Agnes lets things happen; passivity is her primary characteristic. One of the novel's strongest but likely unintended themes is privilege. Pregnant Agnes has no responsibilities. Dad takes care of everything. At no time do material concerns like money, employment, health insurance, or housing ever interfere with her extensive and intimately described physical and mental reactions to being pregnant. The narrative's focus is on Agnes's feelings. She writes letters to her missing mother, about whom readers learn little. Agnes is all there is. If readers don't love her, they are out of luck. VERDICT Not a good bet. With better writing, interesting and well-rounded characters, and a more compelling story, Brit Bennett's The Mothers does a more complete job of depicting the consequences of an unexpected teen pregnancy.--Pamela Mann, St. Mary's Coll. Lib., MD

        Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        July 1, 2017
        Barely into her freshman year of college in the 1990s, Agnes is dealing with both the loss of her brother, tragic and definitive, and the more recent loss of her mom, who seems to have run away from the family's New Jersey home. At school in New England, when she's not writing unsent letters to her mom or avoiding returning her dad's calls, Agnes is distracted by philosophy class, interesting new friendships, and most of all, her crush and soon boyfriend, Tea Rose (Agnes' name for him). All is mostly bliss until spring break, when Tea Rose meets someone else, and Agnes sees a plus sign on a pregnancy test. A loner who can no longer be one, Agnes moves home for the summer, shares the situation with her loving but closed-off dad, and confronts it, however slowly, herself, while under it all, she wonders if mothering is an inheritance or a story to rewrite. Agnes' voice, in her heartrending letters and her funny, sad, dead-true perceptions, propels Iskandrian's brilliant debut about life's continuously shifting, perplexing intimacies.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2017, American Library Association.)

subtitle
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publisher
Grand Central Publishing
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