Review: Cutting Teeth by Julia Fierro


Title: Cutting Teeth

Author: Julia Fierro

Published: St Martin’s Press May 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from May 11 to 13, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

In Cutting Teeth by Julia Fierro, five members of a Brooklyn playgroup, their partners and children, gather in a Long Island beach house for a weekend’s respite, but what they hope will be a relaxing late-summer getaway devolves as the their alliance crumbles under the strain of secrets, resentments and unresolved tensions. Exploring parenthood and the guilt and sacrifices that underpin it, relationships, sex, ambition, career, domesticity and desire, this is an shrewd portrait of modern day, upper class families.

There are elements of Cutting Teeth I can relate to as a mother of four – the all day ‘morning’ sickness, the horrors of the witching hour (I had three children under three!), and the free floating anxiety of parenting, but the world of Fierro’s ‘mommies’ is far removed from my own. I’ve never had a nanny, competed for a place in a private preschool, or bought a $300 nightgown for my daughter. I couldn’t afford to solve my brief issues with fertility with IVF (there is a 7 year gap between my first and second child) and I’ve never had a problem telling my children ‘no’, loudly and often. All this to say, I had some empathy for these characters and their vulnerabilities, but it thinned considerably in the face of their privileged whining and helicopter parenting.

Few of Fierro’s characters are wholly likeable, but their flaws ensure they are at least interesting. Hostess Nicole is plagued by catastrophic thinking, Leigh has helped herself to her son’s preschool’s treasury account, Tiffany’s smile hides a calculating heart, and stay at home daddy Rip desperately wants his wife to have another baby. It is Susanna I find most sympathetic, heavily pregnant with her third child, she struggles with her wife’s ambivalence towards their twin boys. Tenzin, a Tibetan devotee of the Dalai Lama, and Leigh’s nanny, observes the ‘mommies’ with bewilderment while pining for her own children she hasn’t held in four years.

Though the cast is pretentious, Fierro’s writing is not. This is a well crafted story with an incisive narrative. The perspective shifts between that of Nicole, Rip, Tiffany, Allie and Leigh exposing their insecurities, fears, strengths and dreams, proving the wise observation made by Tolstoy that ‘…every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’

Cutting Teeth is, at least in part, a satire of a specific cultural demographic, but also an observation of the universal dynamics of parenthood and relationships. I did find this novel entertaining and thought provoking but without the connection to a specific character, it didn’t resonate with me in the way I hoped.


Available to Purchase from

St Martin’s Press I AmazonUS I BookDepository


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tanya (52 books or bust)
    May 14, 2014 @ 20:07:10

    Thanks for your review. I was resisting reading this book for a while, but now I’m a little more interested.



  2. Kate W
    May 14, 2014 @ 21:44:57

    A third of the way through this one at the moment…. Still not sure – waiting for a bit more action.



  3. PsychoCat
    May 14, 2014 @ 23:41:35

    And on the other side of the coin, I read your review and thought “not more dumby yummy mummies”! Just discovered your blog and I can see I am going to like it muchly.



  4. thebookdate
    May 15, 2014 @ 14:57:12

    Great and very comprehensive review. Given the type of characters I will probably never get around to reading it, probably from a psychological point of view I might enjoy it, but not much else would appeal.



  5. Laurie - The Baking Bookworm
    May 16, 2014 @ 12:31:53

    Great review! I’ve added it to my ever-growing TBR pile. As a mom of three I can certainly relate to this book.



  6. stacybuckeye
    May 17, 2014 @ 12:24:48

    I think I may be too anoyed by the characters to appreciate it, satire or not.



  7. laurelrainsnow
    May 19, 2014 @ 10:24:21

    I have heard others mention how “irritating” the characters are, so I am prepared…between those reactions and your very eloquent description of the “specific cultural demographic.” Thanks for sharing your thoughts.



  8. mpartyka
    May 21, 2014 @ 10:10:41

    Interesting to read your review and Ti’s (Book Chatter), similar but different. She couldn’t put it down. I don’t mind characters than annoy me if well written. I hope I like it… when I get around to reading this one. 🙂



  9. Helen
    May 27, 2014 @ 09:18:34

    Putting Cutting Teeth and Four Leaf Clover on my reading List.



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