cover image How to Party with an Infant

How to Party with an Infant

Kaui Hart Hemmings. Simon & Schuster, $26 (240p) ISBN 978-1-5011-0079-6

In her funny and sensitive fourth novel, Hemmings (The Descendants) explores the intersection of personhood and parenthood. Mele Bart is a single mother in San Francisco navigating the world of potty-training specialists, elite preschools, playdate etiquette, and nanny envy. To top it all off, she is contemplating attending the wedding of the father of her child, the man who left her when she told him she was pregnant. After multiple failed attempts at seeming like another perfect privileged mother, Mele finds refuge among the other misfit parents in her daughter’s playgroup—Annie, Barrett, Georgia, and Henry. With their encouragement, she decides to revisit her dream of becoming an author and enters a cookbook-writing contest sponsored by the San Francisco Mother’s Club. Interspersing recipes inspired by her own life with recipes inspired by the other parents in her group, all of whom are dealing with feelings of inadequacy, Mele devises a cookbook that is equal parts introspection and sharp observation. Mele’s candor, her friends’ stories, and some hilariously cringe-worthy interjections from the Mother’s Club online message board come together in a layered narrative that is both ruthless and empathetic, satirical and sincere. Agent: David Forrer, Inkwell Management. (Aug.)