Monday, May 12, 2014

book review: Cutting Teeth by Julia Fierro

The basics: Set over one weekend in late summer, Cutting Teeth is the story of a Long Island beach house vacation for a Brooklyn playgroup of four-year-olds and their parents.

My thoughts: Despite having a large cast of characters, I never struggled with keeping the characters straight. Alternating narration from most of the parents certainly helped, as the reader gets to know both the personalities of each character as well as their interior monologues. In this sense, the narrative style greatly contributed to the tension of the weekend, which predictably builds as the novel goes on.

Cutting Teeth is both funny and serious. Fierro, herself a mother of two young children who lives in Brooklyn, frequently pokes fun at the stereotypes and caricatures of Brooklyn parents and children. But while the commentary veered into satire at times, I was also struck by an underlying sadness at its heart. I think of parenting a little differently now as I'm a few months from becoming a parent. The sadness and helplessness woven into this novel resonated with me more strongly than the happy moments, for better or for worse. As I read, however, I was struck by the idea of friendship in the play group, which my favorite passage (below) so eloquently sums up. As I imagine myself as a soon-to-be parent, I sometimes imagine vacations with my friends and their kids, but I haven't yet imagined the friendships I'll form because of and through my child. It's a fascinatingly different dynamic, and the transition from playgroup to vacationing friends is indeed one fraught with opportunities for drama, which Fierro delightfully captures in Cutting Teeth.

Favorite passage: "She hadn't chosen these mommies and daddies. They were just the players that came with Wyatt. She had spent hours and hours with them only because they shared the story, which was a comedy, and occasionally, a tragedy. A story about loving little children."

The verdict: I loved the rawness and honesty of Cutting Teeth. I laughed and bemoaned as I spent two days with this motley crew of characters, but most importantly, it's a novel that hasn't left my mind since I finished it. Fierro is clearly a talent to watch, and Cutting Teeth is an impressive debut.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 337 pages
Publication date: May 13, 2014
Source: publisher

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Cutting Teeth from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle edition.)

Want more? Visit Julia Fierro's website, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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  1. I skimmed a little since I am reading this one now. I am glad that you liked it. I am only a few chapters in but it's starting off well for me.

    1. Ti, I'll look forward to your thoughts on this one when you finish!

  2. Hmm, hadn't heard of this one... sure sounds like a book I'd enjoy. Thanks!


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