Cutting Teeth by Julia Fierro

Cutting Teeth by Julia FierroCutting Teeth by Julia Fierro
Published by St. Martin's Press on May 13, 2014
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 322
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via TLC Book Tours for review consideration.
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three-half-stars

"Comically energetic...Fierro reminds us how complicated the task of rearing human beings is, even in the most liberal of enclaves." - The New Yorker
A highly readable, thought-provoking, and brutally honest study of the struggles and joys of raising children." - Boston Globe
"Fierro’s characters are meticulously drawn, the situations emotionally charged. Readers won’t be able to look away." - Booklist
I’d read nearly fifty pages before I came up for breath—Cutting Teeth reads as smoothly as a peanut butter sandwich with the crusts cut off.~ Emma Straub, author of​ ​the NYTimes-bestselling The Vacationers
"An ensemble of parents you'll love to hate take their playgroup to a shabby summer cottage on the Gold Coast." - Newsday
“When a group of thirty-something parents gather at a ramshackle beach house called Eden, no serpent is required for the sins, carnal and otherwise, to pile up. You may want to keep Fierro’s debut novel on a high shelf, away from children and prudish literary snobs.” - The Millions' "Most Anticipated Books of 2014"
One of the most anticipated debut novels of 2014, Cutting Teeth takes place one late-summer weekend as a group of thirty-something couples gather at a shabby beach house on Long Island, their young children in tow.
They include Nicole, the neurotic hostess terrified by internet rumors that something big and bad is going to happen in New York City that week; stay-at-home dad Rip, grappling with the reality that his careerist wife will likely deny him a second child, forcing him to disrupt the life he loves; Allie, one half of a two-mom family, and an ambitious artist, facing her ambivalence toward family life; Tiffany, comfortable with her amazing body but not so comfortable in the upper-middle class world the other characters were born into; and Leigh, a blue blood secretly facing financial ruin and dependent on Tenzin, the magical Tibetan nanny everyone else covets. These tensions build, burn, and collide over the course of the weekend, culminating in a scene in which the ultimate rule of the group is broken.
Cutting Teeth captures the complex dilemmas of early mid-life—the vicissitudes of friendship, of romantic and familial love, and of sex. It confronts class tension, status hunger, and the unease of being in possession of life's greatest bounty while still wondering, is this as good as it gets? And, perhaps most of all, Julia Fierro’s thought-provoking debut explores the all-consuming love we feel for those we need most, and the sacrifice and self-compromise that underpins that love.
All this is packed into a page-turning, character-driven novel that crackles with life and unexpected twists and turns that will keep readers glued as they cringe and laugh with compassion, incredulousness, and, most of all, self-recognition. Cutting Teeth is a warm, whip-smart and unpretentious literary novel, perfect for readers of Tom Perrotta and Meg Wolitzer.
“Entertaining, wise, heart-breaking at times, Cutting Teeth is an outstanding debut. Julia Fierro’s particular genius is her ability to understand and render the vagaries of the human heart.”~ Therese Anne Fowler, author of the bestselling Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
“Timely and observant, Julia Fierro’s debut feels like real life. She captures the anxiety of our times with the authority, insight—and humor—of lived experience.”~ Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Age of Miracles
“Cutting Teeth​ ​is​ ​for any reader seeking a tale rich in character, strong in voice and filled with both incisive social critique and a luminous generosity of spirit, a rare combination indeed.”~ Megan Abbott, author of The Fever
“Fierro displays an impressive gift for acute characterization and a deep understanding of the way status hunger warps relationships.”~ Joyce Johnson, author of Minor Characters
I fell in love with Cutting Teeth’s insightful, graceful voice, and a narrative that carried me from beginning to end in one rush. A compelling debut infused with compassion.~ Jean Kwok, author of Girl in Translation

 

Cutting Teeth takes place over a single weekend, when a mommy group has gathered for a brief summer retreat at a beach house on Long Island, spouses and children in tow.

What a motley crew! There’s a germaphobic doomsday prepper, a stay-at-home dad who struggles with male factor infertility, a lesbian couple, a wealthy family, a family with a developmentally delayed son, strict parents, hands-off parents, and plenty of secrets to go around. These characters are interesting and outrageous. There are ones you’ll love and ones you’ll hate; but as in real life, it’s more complicated than that. There is also a beloved Tibetan nanny who is a breath of fresh air, often balancing out the crazy going on around her.

Cutting Teeth was a fun and enjoyable read, but I have to admit, it also made me feel a little old. I kind of missed out on the mommy group thing when C was younger (thanks, preemie lockdown). Are these groups really full of such mismatched, insecure people? (Also, do adults really text each other using textspeak?)

Even though I often felt incredulous at the way these characters acted, I still found them honest, raw, and believable. We all have irrational fears and insecurities in some form or another, and Fierro taps right into that. It’s like she took all the tiny doubts and fears people have in healthy doses, isolated them, and then amplified them to create these characters. It’s at once embarrassing, appalling, and utterly fascinating.

If you’ve spent anytime at all on parenting internet sites (blogs, forums, columns) you’ll recognize these characters. What’s scary is, you might catch a glimpse of yourself, too.

three-half-stars