“We’re still too cute about all the stuff that happens to our bodies,” says Michelle Wolf in Joke Show, her latest stand up. “We’ve gotta stop being cute. Like, when we have a baby, we say it’s a miracle–stop it!” Having a baby, Wolf asserts, is “a natural disaster,” arguing that women will never get the healthcare and respect we deserve unless we’re brutally honest about our experiences.
Enter Emily Adrian’s latest novel, Everything Here is Under Control. This book should be required reading for the strangers at the grocery store who look at your two-week old baby and ask, “Is she sleeping through the night yet?” Or the endless stream of middle aged men who declare, “You’ve got your hands full!” as you wrangle both of your children to the parking lot.
In Adrian’s hands, the hazy, mostly terrifying early postpartum weeks are anything but cute.
Amanda, a first-time mom living in New York, visits her Ohio hometown and shows up on her friend’s doorstep, partly out of desperation, but also drawn back to this friend, at whose birth she was present years prior, divulging unresolved tensions and revealing tender spots in their relationship.
Adrian’s novel tackles the animal ugliness of facing three in the morning with a screaming infant. It tells of the bittersweet encounters of returning to your hometown. Most significantly, it describes the agitating conflicts of lifelong friendship, as well as its enduring intimacies.
Recently, I struck up a conversation via text message with a new mother, someone I had not spoken to since high school. My intention was to serve as a beacon of hope in the wilderness of early motherhood. Her baby is a mere two weeks old. Her assessment: “the nights are so long and lonely.” My response: “Those lonely nights are literally the worst.”
The nights are lonely and the emotions are frightening. Why is it that we expose ourselves to the natural disaster of motherhood?
A possible answer from Adrian’s novel: “I don’t remember. All I know is that I cannot un-have him, and I have never, for a single moment, wished I could.”
Thank you to Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for the advance copy of this title.
Everything Here is Under Control by Emily Adrian
Fiction — Blackstone Publishing
Publication Date: 28 July 2020