Soldier Sailor

Claire Kilroy (The Devil I Know) explores the highest highs and lowest lows of motherhood in Soldier Sailor, a searing portrait of the early years of parenting written as a kind of confessional from an unnamed mother to her son.

"I hadn't had an unbroken night's sleep since you'd exploded onto the scene--I love you, but Jesus wept," she says. Within the sleeplessness, she finds a love for her child she never thought possible, but also a deep-seated rage: at her husband and the patriarchy, at the failure of community to care for young mothers, at the impossibility of motherhood, the tedium and the joy of it all as she slides into something akin to insanity. Kilroy's incredible novel candidly explores the tiresome and infuriating reality of mothering a small child. The mother wonders how and when she became this spiteful version of herself. And yet Soldier Sailor itself never comes off as bitter, as Kilroy beautifully brings the novel back time and again to the desperate love this mother has for her exasperating, exhausting, perfect child. "Loving you was the easy part. Loving you was the only easy part."

In finding that balance, Kilroy succeeds in offering readers a glimpse into motherhood that feels as primal as it is poetic, a brilliant reflection of how impossibly enormous all emotions become in the transition into motherhood. Raw and honest, Soldier Sailor will leave readers--and especially those who are mothers themselves--white-knuckled at the end of an emotional roller-coaster of anguish and joy alike that perfectly encapsulates the extremes of becoming a parent. --Kerry McHugh

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