Screaming on the Inside: The Unsustainability of American Motherhood (Paperback)

Screaming on the Inside: The Unsustainability of American Motherhood By Jessica Grose Cover Image

Screaming on the Inside: The Unsustainability of American Motherhood (Paperback)


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"If this book feels like it’s sounding the alarm on the state of American motherhood, well, that’s because it is." -- San Francisco Chronicle

In this timely and necessary book, New York Times opinion writer Jessica Grose dismantles two hundred years of unrealistic parenting expectations and empowers today’s mothers to make choices that actually serve themselves, their children, and their communities

Close your eyes and picture the perfect mother. She is usually blonde and thin. Her roots are never showing and she installed that gleaming kitchen backsplash herself (watch her TikTok for DIY tips). She seamlessly melds work, wellness and home; and during the depths of the pandemic, she also ran remote school and woke up at 5 a.m. to meditate.

You may read this and think it’s bananas; you have probably internalized much of it.

Journalist Jessica Grose sure had. After she failed to meet every one of her own expectations for her first pregnancy, she devoted her career to revealing how morally bankrupt so many of these ideas and pressures are. Now, in Screaming on the Inside, Grose weaves together her personal journey with scientific, historical, and contemporary reporting to be the voice for American parents she wishes she’d had a decade ago.

The truth is that parenting cannot follow a recipe; there’s no foolproof set of rules that will result in a perfectly adjusted child. Every parent has different values, and we will have different ideas about how to pass those values along to our children. What successful parenting has in common, regardless of culture or community, is close observation of the kind of unique humans our children are. In thoughtful and revelatory chapters about pregnancy, identity, work, social media, and the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic, Grose explains how we got to this moment, why the current state of expectations on mothers is wholly unsustainable, and how we can move towards something better.

Jessica Grose is an opinion writer at The New York Times who writes a popular newsletter on parenting. Jess was the founding editor of Lenny, the email newsletter and website. She also writes about women’s health, culture, politics and grizzly bears. She was named one of LinkedIn’s Next Wave top professionals 35 and under in 2016 and a Glamour “Game Changer” in 2020 for her coverage of parenting in the pandemic. She is the author of the novels Soulmates and Sad Desk Salad. She was formerly a senior editor at Slate, and an editor at Jezebel. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, New York, the Washington Post, Businessweek, Elle, Cosmopolitan, and many other publications. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughters.

"Fierce, timely, unflinching." — New York Times Book Review

"If this book feels like it’s sounding the alarm on the state of American motherhood, well, that’s because it is." — San Francisco Chronicle

"Journalist Grose weaves together history, memoir and interviews with hundreds of women to persuasively propose a saner future for all." — People

"In the all-too-timely Screaming on the Inside, Jessica Grose is direct and bracing in her assessment of how horrifically the United States serves its mothers and, in turn, its children. Enraging and elucidating, it's also a pleasure to read." — Rebecca Traister, author of Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger and writer-at-large for New York Magazine and The Cut

"Like every mom, I, too, have screamed on the inside (and sometimes on the outside) while raising my four kids. I just want to do a good job—but that can feel like the impossible dream at times. Screaming on the Inside: The Unsustainability of American Motherhood helps us understand how mothers got to this place of outsized expectations from society and from ourselves. Jessica Grose has spent a career talking with experts and parents and has now mined her wealth of knowledge to write a book that is long overdue." — Soledad O'Brien

“Eminently readable…It takes a succinct and accessible book to open a conversation with people who may not otherwise read a book ‘about motherhood’…. Vindicates the frustration of American mothers, but is as crucial a read for those who have never changed a diaper in their lives.” — Boston Globe

"This is the rare book that is both important for how we think about policy solutions to serious social problems, and also incredibly relatable and hard to put down." — Emily Oster, author of Expecting Better, Cribsheet and The Family Firm

“This is the book I've been waiting for on contemporary motherhood: historically rooted, incisive, empathic, furious, while always asking how we actually move forward. If you think Screaming on the Inside is just a book for moms, you're very wrong.” — Anne Helen Petersen, author of Out of the Office and Can’t Even and writer of Culture Study

"Grose’s fiery compassion is matched by her profoundly complex understanding of the material and her trenchant, witty prose.... A deeply researched and highly relatable analysis of American motherhood, past and present."
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Stirring. …Mothers struggling to keep their heads above water will find camaraderie in this empathetic outing.” — Publishers Weekly

“It's hard to imagine a mother (or other) who won't feel seen somewhere in Grose's accessible, empathetic, data-driven report.” — Booklist

“Melding personal narrative with clear-eyes reportage from the front lines, [Grose] works to redefine what exactly a ‘mother’ is, or should be, in a society that demands so much more from its childbearing women than it has to offer.” — Los Angeles Times

“[Grose] breaks down all the expectations and leaves behind an analysis that will surely free any mother of the burden of doing it all.” — Shondaland

“Compelling, razor-sharp, and deeply personal." — Christian Science Monitor