Published by Ecco on November 16, 2021
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Bantering Books Rating:
An exhilarating, provocative novel of motherhood in extremis
Tiny is pregnant. Her husband is delighted. “You think this baby is going to be like you, but it’s not like you at all,” she warns him. “This baby is an owl-baby.”
When Chouette is born small and broken-winged, Tiny works around the clock to meet her daughter’s needs. Left on her own to care for a child who seems more predatory bird than baby, Tiny vows to raise Chouette to be her authentic self. Even in those times when Chouette’s behaviors grow violent and strange, Tiny’s loving commitment to her daughter is unwavering. When she discovers that her husband is on an obsessive and increasingly dangerous quest to find a “cure” for their daughter, Tiny must decide whether Chouette should be raised to fit in or to be herself—and learn what it truly means to be a mother.
Arresting, darkly funny, and unsettling, Chouette is a brilliant exploration of ambition, sacrifice, perceptions of ability, and the ferocity of motherly love.
Bantering Books Review
“It’s a wonder that any woman ever agrees to be a mother, when the fruits of motherhood are inevitably conflict and remorse, to be followed by death and disembowelment.”
Chouette is not for the faint of motherhood. Or for those with weak stomachs.
The book is bizarre. Claire Oshetsky’s debut novel about a woman who gives birth to an owl-baby is one of the oddest – yet most captivating – books I’ve ever read. It’s dark, unnerving, and gruesome. And it’s an incisive, provocative exploration of what it really means to be a mother. The blood, sweat, and tears of it.
Chouette is meant to be read as a parable. (I think.) But some may read it either as a tale of fantasy and magical realism or as an examination of a woman’s fragile mental state.
To me, Chouette is one big metaphor for motherhood. It’s motherhood from the perspective of a woman who sees the world differently, as she views it from her somewhat skewed reality.
And Oshetsky nails it:
The fierceness of mother-love;
The utter devotion;
The inability to see a child’s flaws;
The isolation of being left home with a baby;
The longing for a child to not grow up;
The grief felt when a child leaves home.
I could go on.
Yet there’s still more. For not only is the novel a tale of the trials of motherhood, but it’s also a story of acceptance and authenticity. It’s about how to live a true life.
Chouette is thoughtful and raw. Humorous and horrific. Poignant and disquieting.
Validating, too. As a mother, I feel understood.
My sincerest appreciation to Claire Oshetsky, Ecco, and NetGalley for the electronic Advance Review Copy. All opinions included herein are my own.