Sunday, June 30, 2024

Book Review: Motherlove

By Sara Steven

A powerful short story collection about an often forgotten group: the mothers of children who kill. Trounstine explores the stories of ten mothers, each struggling with the aftermath of murder. While fictional, Trounstine’s characters are drawn from her more than thirty years of experience with prisoners and their families, making her stories all the more real and resonant. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

When I was in high school, a friend of mine had murdered his mother one morning, later depositing the knife and his bloody clothing in a school dumpster before attending classes for the day as though nothing had happened. That afternoon, police interrupted our English class to bring him in for questioning, a moment I haven’t forgotten in nearly thirty years. He’d been captain of the football team. Involved in several activities in school. An incredibly popular young man who I had always assumed had a charmed life ahead of him, cut short by one horrific choice.

While Motherlove reflects on the living mothers of children who kill, it reminded me of the young man I knew in high school and the aftermath of a life changed due to violence. The short stories within Trounstine’s collection focus on the strength and hope the mothers cling to, despite the various obstacles faced. And through it all, they maintain the insurmountable love they feel for their children, a bond that at times can be fragile and damaged, but it’s still there.    

Even though the stories here are fictional, they are based on real life and experiences felt by mothers who have children who are incarcerated. It gave me a different perspective, because it’s too easy to judge the parents of a child who commit crimes, assuming they may come from homes with a lack of parental supervision or care. We never truly know what someone is going through, and often don’t have the knowledge and understanding of what is really going on behind the scenes, and it was inspirational to see mothers who fight hard for their children, despite judgment. 

Thanks to Wunderkind PR for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Learn more about Jean Trounstine at her website.

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