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We can never have enough irreverent books about parenting to keep us laughing, amirite? If you’re with me, you have to check out the brand new, very dark and very hilarious Hurts Like a Mother: A Cautionary Alphabet, by Jennifer Weiss and Lauren Franklin, out just in time for Mother’s Day.

Well, for a very particular kind of mother at least.

Those of you familiar with the Gashlycrumb Tinies (one of my own longtime favorites) will smile before you’ve even cracked a page. But when you do? Get ready for an alphabet of parenting like nothing Dr. Sears ever imagined:

Amy overdid the Pinot at the parent potluck
Brenda was concave from a postpartum niptuck
Claire was iced out – her snacks weren’t organic
Coordinating car pools made Dee pop a Xanax.


I can’t help but laugh out loud at references to the price of American Girl Dolls, the dread of unexpected snow days, and the toll that co-sleeping takes on parents’ sex lives. True Gashlycrumb fans will even appreciate some subtle nods to the original — instead of Neville, who died of ennui, here, Neve dies of ennui from browsing too many parenting books.

And then there’s poor Wynne, asphyxiated by inflating too many pool toys.

The self-referential humor is brought to life by Ken Lamugwhose clever illustrations nod to Gorey just enough to pass as parody and not mimicry.


My only minor quibble is that the book is filled with a whole lotta white women, with a few exceptions. Actually, it’s filled with a whole lotta white, blonde women. So perhaps the authors are trading a bit on the helicopter parent stereotype, as with the mother who develops carpal tunnel syndrome from filling out too many preschool applications.

Not that that’s limited to blondes. (Ahem, *allofBrooklyncough*)

That said, this really is a fabulous little baby shower or Mother’s Day gift for any mom who needs a laugh. But it’s not just for new moms — I think parents of tweens and teens will find some camaraderie with Ruby, who died of shame after discovering some of her son’s less than savory texts.

Find Hurts Like a Mother: A Cautionary Alphabet, by Jennifer Weiss and Lauren Franklin at our affiliate Amazon or your local indie bookseller. Also, check out Florence Henderson reading an excerpt on YouTube.



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