With a keen eye for what pulls us apart and what brings us together, The Other Mother shines a light on the complexities of mothers trying to balance it all.
Amanda is a successful book editor at a prominent publishing house in New York City. Thea is a stay-at-home mother of three who has never really left the community in which she grew up. Eight months’ pregnant with her first child, Amanda and her husband move next door to Thea and her family, and the two women find themselves both drawn to and repelled by each other and their opposing choices in the constant struggle to balance career and family life.
When a disaster forces Amanda and her family to take refuge in Thea’s home, the tensions simmering between them are forced to the surface and rise even further when Thea fills in as Amanda’s temporary nanny. But once dead animals start appearing on Thea’s front porch and she thinks that surely they're a macabre gift from Amanda, then the battle with “the other mother” begins in earnest.
Gwendolen Gross has created a stunning, dark, suspenseful novel that is as brave as it is shocking.
Gross's third novel (following Getting Out) documents the front lines of the "Mommy Wars," but its real strength lies in exposing the complex inner battlefields motherhood can open up. Eight months pregnant Amanda, a successful children's book editor and dedicated New Yorker, picks up with her lawyer husband and moves to suburban Teaneck, N.J. Her new neighbor, Thea Caldwell, is a full-time mother of three who still lives in her childhood home and who arrives bearing brownies. When the newcomers take extended shelter in the Caldwells' basement following a damaging storm and, later, when Amanda hires Thea as her newborn's nanny, the growing intimacy between the two breeds resentment, bitterness and misunderstandings. The series of external crises designed to create tension and suspense are, in the end, less compelling than the women's own inner demons, revealed through alternating, and overlapping, first-person narration. Jersey resident Gross shows the strife between SAHMs (Stay at Home Moms) and WOTHs (moms who Work Outside the Home) to be a lot more nuanced than it's often portrayed.