Published: May 13, 2014Publisher: St. Martin's PressPages: 336Received: for honest review via TLC Book ToursOne of the most anticipated debut novels of 2014, Cutting Teeth takes place one late-summer weekend as a group of thirty-something couples gather at a shabby beach house on Long Island, their young children in tow.
They include Nicole, the neurotic hostess terrified by internet rumors that something big and bad is going to happen in New York City that week; stay-at-home dad Rip, grappling with the reality that his careerist wife will likely deny him a second child, forcing him to disrupt the life he loves; Allie, one half of a two-mom family, and an ambitious artist, facing her ambivalence toward family life; Tiffany, comfortable with her amazing body but not so comfortable in the upper-middle class world the other characters were born into; and Leigh, a blue blood secretly facing financial ruin and dependent on Tenzin, the magical Tibetan nanny everyone else covets. These tensions build, burn, and collide over the course of the weekend, culminating in a scene in which the ultimate rule of the group is broken.
I think Cutting Teeth is a great look at mommy play groups and the different dynamics and people it takes to make one up. Not that all of these characters happen in every play group out there, but it was fun seeing the different people that make up a group - all tied together by the love or children and wanting someone to bond with over parenthood.
The group actually gets together at Nicole's urging - one last fun summer weekend together. Little do they know she is being selfish in her reasons to escape the city (she has some deep rooted fears). If you read the description above you pretty much get a glimpse at each characters issues, but little do we know how much they each affect the others.
Allie is one of my favourites in the group and I love that she is grappling with being a parent and working. Her love of her work outweighs her parenting, but after this weekend I think she will have a little bit of a wake up call and re-balance her life.
Tiffany is so completely fake. She is actually smart, but uses her body to her advantage - always flirting and forever spouting healthy living. She came from a lower class family and is trying to make it in the blue blood world by pretending to be something she is not.
And my final favourite character is Tenzin - the 'Tibetan Mary Poppins'. She is fought over for her services between Leigh and Tiffany. But her chapters captivated me with her insight into the different mommies/daddies in the group. She comes from a very hardworking and zen life and looks at things in a different way than the Americans. All she wants is for the next few years to be over so she can have her family join her in America, but she spends her days taking care of little children who are oblivious to their parents flaws. She has a way with the children, especially Leigh's little boy, Chase, who has what seems to be a type of autism (though it is not confirmed directly).
The weekend progresses nicely until the final evening when it all comes crashing down when accusations go flying and resentment kicks in.
Overall I think this book deals with some interesting issues including secrets, guilt, relationships, ambition and sacrifices.