The School For Good Mothers

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan is a razor-sharp dystopian satire about a future society in which mothers deemed “bad” by the government is targeted for a cruel form of reeducation. Frida Liu, harried and juggling single parenthood with work, is labeled as this kind of mother after she leaves her toddler Harriet home alone for a short time while she hurries back to her office for something she forgot. As punishment, her daughter is given to her ex-husband and his much-younger girlfriend, who posts glowingly on social media about how much she loves caring for Harriet. Frida, meanwhile, is sent to a rehab facility for a year to correct her behavior as a mother. Here, she and other mothers deemed problematic are under constant surveillance, compelled to practice their skills on robot babies who record information about their assigned mothers. Here, every glimmer of human emotion can be used to prove their unfitness to parents. Chan’s novel contains elements similar to Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, but is also vividly unique and deeply unsettling.