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Motherland: A Novel Hardcover – August 14, 2012

2.7 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“While Sohn’s sharp, hilarious tale satirizes these affluent, artsy Brooklyn archetypes and their fickle yet predictable Hollywood counterparts, it also explores the waning of passion, the angst of being housebound with kids, and the despair of watching your spouse morph from best friend to apathetic, angry, or needy adversary . . . [Motherland] keeps you hooked—and cackling—until its surprisingly resonant final lines.” —Cathi Hanauer, ELLE

“Sohn provides more than a soupcon of sardonic pleasure. . . .There’s lots of sex (with everyone but spouses), illicit pot-smoking, dubious career moves, hilarious social commentary and clever twists and turns in Motherland—making it a perfect last-minute beach read before fall arrives.” (USA Today)

“A heartfelt and hauntingly true reflection of what it is to be a modern parent. . . .Expect to be hooked.” (Daily Candy)

“[A] summer-fun novel.” (New York Daily News)

“Smart. . . A satirical swipe at the Park Slope Crowd of parents reveals promiscuity, secrets, despair and, oh yes, child care.” (Kirkus)

“A juicy, diverting look at the private lives of hip, urban parents, Motherland is filled with witty and wise observations about sex, marriage, parenthood, and fidelity. I live in the exact part of Brooklyn Amy Sohn describes, and now I can't stop wondering what my neighbors are up to behind closed doors.” —J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Commencement and Maine

“Hilarious, smart, razor-sharp and spot-on, Amy Sohn’s Motherland is a sheer pleasure to read. Did I say riveting? I stayed up long past my bedtime, immersed in the lives of these characters, needing to know how it all turned out.” —Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion and Family History

“Sohn is clearly culturally savvy, and her dialogue is often witty and at times spot-on.” Booklist

About the Author

Amy Sohn is the author of four novels. She has written articles and columns for New York magazine, The New York Times, The Nation, and Harper’s Bazaar, and television pilots for such networks as HBO, Fox, and ABC. Visit her at AmySohn.com.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (August 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439158495
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439158494
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,373,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If you liked the soap opera that is Amy Sohn's last book, Prospect Park West, you'll probably enjoy its sequel Motherland. I enjoyed the chance to catch up with some of the characters from her last book, and the book doesn't disappoint with salacious - if improbable - details of their lives.

Basically, the book centers around a group of friends/parents all of whom live (or in a few cases, lived) in Park Slope. The couples are struggling with the monotony of long term relationships (with kids) and the questioning/settling one deals with as they approach middle age. This leads a few of the partners to act out, either by cheating or abusing other vices. It even leads to the destruction of a few relationships. The stories are intertwined in a creative way, with all of the characters' lives intersecting - showing the incestuous/claustrophobic nature of Park Slope.

An interlude about some stroller thefts might play into an innate destructive desire many non-breeders have when faced with the monster strollers that are popular today, but it never really goes anywhere (even as it does tie back into the narrative).

Sohn's writing is witty and engaging, and occasionally she surprises with a deep insight or two. Ultimately the book skirts the surface, staying as superficial as her characters. I don't mean that as an insult - I enjoyed the light tone of the book.

If you didn't read/don't remember Prospect Park West, Motherland still stands on its own.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Amy Sohn's 'Motherland' sounds like the kind of novel I would get into - many characters, each sharing his or her perspective on similar themes and events. A fugue, of sorts. This book kept popping up on various "If you liked then you'll love " and "Other Customers Bought..." so I gave it a go.

I'm not certain which title in my browsing or purchasing history for which the algorithm is designed to calculate, but I can only guess that in this particular case, it miscalculated as much as wanting New York City and ending up in Hell.

The characters are navel-gazing, one-dimensional, and several other cliches attributed to dissatisfied, overly self-important individuals. I rolled my eyes at their musings, their genteel problems, and the general implausibility of the novel. [SPOILER] Really? One guy contributes his semen twice to his daughter, once for her conception and then again twenty years later when they meet as strangers? Really?

It is the stuff of great Friday night soft-core news shows or Jerry Springer; I have very little room for it on my bookshelf.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I do not know why I kept reading Motherland, I didn't connect with any of the characters and I was seriously worried about the safety of all their children. I had enjoyed her previous novel, Prospect Park West, mostly because as a New York mom myself I am not immune to the pleasures of schadenfreude. But with this book, I couldn't enjoy any of it because everyone was just so utterly miserable and it was easy to see how it was all their own damn faults.

I do have to credit Amy Sohn with her talent for astute cultural commentary, and despite my feelings about this book I'm sure I'll read her next one.

[....]
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Format: Hardcover
Amy Sohn's Motherland is a dark, disturbing account of shallow people residing in a brownstone Brooklyn community.

It appears as if Sohn took writing lessons from unfunny comics. You know the ones who have nothing funny to say, so for shock value
they use of lots of 'F' and 'C' words as substitutes for good material.

In Sohn's case, the author uses outrageous stereotypes as substitutes for substance. If the author was going for shock value, it doesn't work. Her stereotypes are grotesque.

For example, the one African American character was imprisoned for drug dealing. The homosexual male character is a compulsive sex hound having frequent, anonymous encounters. The older, long time Park Slope resident is angry, therefore she must be menopausal (hormonal).

Most heinous is Sohn's repeated (and repeated and repeated and ...) characterizations of Jewish people. As if that wasn't enough, twice the author actually refers to 'hook-nosed' when referring to - you guessed it, Jews. (How 1930s!)

The author does offer clear descriptions of the locale and the influx of wealthy folks. And yes, the astronomical rise in real estate prices has made it impossible for the now adult children, along with their parents - who transformed Park Slope and populated those locales - to reside there.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Every now and then I like to read what I call a "junk food" book--the literary equivalent of a pint of Ben & Jerry's. Motherland was to serve as a reprieve from some heavier reading I'd been doing. Unfortunately, this one made me wish I had gone for the ice cream instead.

Following a group of Park Slope Brooklynian couples told from the perspective of 5 characters: one straight wife, one straight separated wife, one straight husband, and one gay husband, the chapters are small bites of their stories, which propels you along at a mercifully quick pace.

I can't help, but to feel condescending as I review this book. It just doesn't come together for me. The plot lines are so thin, the characters less than one dimensional, the marriages based on superficiality, and the author seemingly obsessed with semen (maybe it's just me, but there were way too many details about it in this book). The only interesting plot points are left unexplained, or aren't given enough attention (like the whole stroller thief thing), and the ending is entirely too saccharine for me. To be fair, I didn't read the prequel to the series, so maybe there were some redeeming qualities about these characters in the previous books that didn't make it to the sequel.

Reality television is a guilty pleasure of mine, but I just don't feel like that kind of smut needs to be translated into literature. Even the plot twists were disgustingly predictable. The stereotypes were in poor taste: Depictions of gays as a choice between an oversexed, deceitful addict, or an overweight, straight couple wannabe, put a bad taste in my mouth, a villainized tranny mistress was even worse for me. Why did the one black guy need to be an ex con?

If you're looking for something smutty you would be better served by a copy of US Weekly.
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