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The Resource Motherest : a novel, Kristen Iskandrian

Motherest : a novel, Kristen Iskandrian

Label
Motherest : a novel
Title
Motherest
Title remainder
a novel
Statement of responsibility
Kristen Iskandrian
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
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
Tone
Writing style
Review
  • 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. -- Bostrom, Annie (Reviewed 7/1/2017) (Booklist, vol 113, number 21, p22)
  • /* Starred Review */ 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. (Aug.) --Staff (Reviewed 06/26/2017) (Publishers Weekly, vol 264, issue 26, p)
  • 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 --Pamela Mann (Reviewed 05/15/2017) (Library Journal, vol 142, issue 9, p70)
  • /* Starred Review */ 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.(Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2017)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10573419
Cataloging source
YDX
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Iskandrian, Kristen
Dewey number
813/.6
Index
no index present
LC call number
PS3609.S52
LC item number
M68 2017
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Women college students
  • Mothers and daughters
  • Motherhood
Target audience
adult
Label
Motherest : a novel, Kristen Iskandrian
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
24 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
279 pages
Isbn
9781455594443
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • 965766502
  • (OCoLC)965766502
Label
Motherest : a novel, Kristen Iskandrian
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
24 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
279 pages
Isbn
9781455594443
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • 965766502
  • (OCoLC)965766502

Library Locations

    • James City County LibraryBorrow it
      7770 Croaker Road, Williamsburg, VA, 23188, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
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