Motherhood in a novel

Looking at "The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls"

By: Lindsey Gawlik

"The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls"

"The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls" by Julie Shumacher (2012) is a modern day, coming-of-age story about a girl named Adrienne Haus. Adrienne is a fifteen-year-old girl who is trapped at home for the summer in a small town in Delaware after suffering a serious knee injury that canceled her summer-long hiking trip with her best friend. As she is entering 11th grade, Adrienne has signed up to take an AP English course and will have to spend her summer reading AP novels. Adrienne's mother decides it would a fun idea to start a mother-daughter book club with other girls who will be in the class and their moms, and in doing so brings together many different mother-daughter dynamics under the same roof once a week for the entire summer. The novel is "formatted" as the English essay Adrienne is set to submit at the end of the summer and uses literary terms and references to foreshadow and allude to the pace of the plot. The book follows Adrienne as she goes through a rebellious streak, trying to find herself within the books she reads and amongst her fellow troubled teens. The book ends tragically, although realistically and aims to show what causes a teen to rebel. The book examines motherhood from the omniscient limited perspective of the daughters (or at least how Adrienne sees the daughters), and shows Adrienne struggle with her own relationship with her single-parent mother. Overall, I didn't like this book, as it left a lot of questions unanswered and felt like a surface-level teen book, but I appreciated the format of it.


Adrienne is the protagonist of the story. She starts the novel extremely close with her single-parent mother, but as the novel progresses she begins to fester the normal teen angst and frustrations toward her mother. Adrienne begins to question who she is and tries to talk to her mother about her father, a man her mother describes as "little more than a sperm donor." Restless for the summer, Adrienne regresses into teen rebellion through her friendship with the girls of the novel (especially CeeCee), dying her hair bright red, sneaking out, allowing CeeCee to pierce her upper ear, drinking and skinny dipping accordingly. These changes obviously spark anxiety in her mother, who tries to understand what Adrienne is going through but becomes obviously frustrated at times. She is shows as compassionate through the eyes of Wallis, brilliant through Adrienne's own eyes, and overall loving. Although at one point in the novel she tells her sister that getting pregnant was her greatest mistake (something Adrienne finds out and struggles with throughout the book), she also tells Adrienne she is her anchor and being a mother to Adrienne is who she is. Their dynamic is complicated due to the single-parent model, and Adrienne is often angry at her mother throughout the book, although this is because as a smart teen, she feels angry and frustrated when her mother evades her questions or ignores her feelings.

The daughters and the relationships with their mothers