Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder
Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder
UK Publication: July 2021
Reviewed by: Book Worm
This ARC was provided by Vintage (Harvill Secker) (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.
Two word review – Banana Pants! Three word review Bat S**t Crazy!
Synopsis from Goodreads: In this blazingly smart and voracious debut, an artist turned stay-at-home mom becomes convinced she’s turning into a dog.
An ambitious mother puts her art career on hold to stay at home with her newborn son, but the experience does not match her imagination. Two years later, she steps into the bathroom for a break from her toddler’s demands, only to discover a dense patch of hair on the back of her neck. In the mirror, her canines suddenly look sharper than she remembers. Her husband, who travels for work five days a week, casually dismisses her fears from faraway hotel rooms.
As the mother’s symptoms intensify, and her temptation to give in to her new dog impulses peak, she struggles to keep her alter-canine-identity secret. Seeking a cure at the library, she discovers the mysterious academic tome which becomes her bible, A Field Guide to Magical Women: A Mythical Ethnography, and meets a group of mothers involved in a multilevel-marketing scheme who may also be more than what they seem.
An outrageously original novel of ideas about art, power, and womanhood wrapped in a satirical fairy tale, Nightbitch will make you want to howl in laughter and recognition. And you should. You should howl as much as you want.
My Thoughts: This book was totally whacked out and I mean that in the very best way. At points I wasn’t sure if I hated or loved this book (I am still not 100% sure) but what I am sure of is this is the most original look at motherhood I have read in ages, perhaps ever.
Through the idea of the main character literally changing into a dog the idea of remaking yourself as a totally new person after the arrival of a child is thoroughly explored. Why should the new person you become be better, kinder more patient and less ambitious than the one you were before? Why does society assume that good mothers are all about keeping everything including emotions neat and tidy? Why should we not follow lessons from the animal world where mother hood is all about defence and bonding with no worries about judgement? Why do we judge women for their choices while whatever a man decides to do is worthy of praise?
Some great lines from the book:
“I think working mother is perhaps the most nonsensical concept ever concocted. I mean who isn’t a working mother? And then add a paid job to it, so what are you then? A working working mother? Imagine saying working father.”
“When she considered how she spent each day, it was fair to wonder: without him, did she even exist at all?”
“She had been, she saw now, inculcated by a culture that told her, look, it’s cute that you’re a mom, and go do your thing, but, honestly, it’s not that hard; you’re probably not all that smart or interesting, but good for you for feeling fulfilled by mothering.”
Who would like this? Warning this book won’t be for everyone partly down to the craziness, partly due to the violence towards animals and partly because it isn’t a comfortable read, however if being out of your comfort zone doesn’t bother you and you want to read something truly original pick this one up!
We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think?
I’m not a mother, but I’ve always questioned the identity of “mother.” Your thoughts on it make me think that this is probably a book that will speak to that questioning. Thanks for the good review!
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This sounds intriguing. I am a mother and do recall having some moments way back (she’s 35 now).
I just finished this, and liked it a great deal. The author lives in Iowa City, IA, and judging by the descriptions of place, it’s set there. It’s always fun to read about my alma mater, especially when the author writes a scene in my son’s favorite museum.
It was certainly an original book, and, as a mother of two boys, I found myself remembering experiencing a lot of what the main character experienced. Except the turning into a dog part.