Thank you to Lisa Munley at TLC Book Tours for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour for Shapeshifting by Michelle Ross! I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Published November 2, 2021
The fourteen spellbinding stories in Michelle Ross’s second collection invite readers into the shadows of social-media perfectionism and the relentless cult of motherhood. A recovering alcoholic navigates the social landscape of a toddler playdate; a mother of two camps out in a van to secure her son’s spot at a prestigious kindergarten; a young girl forces her friends to play an elaborate, unwinnable game. With unflinching honesty and vivid, lyrical prose, Ross explores the familial ties that bind us together—or, sometimes, tear us apart. - from Goodreads
Short story collections are not something I normally gravitate towards, but as a new mom, this collection of stories about motherhood intrigued me. In Shapeshifting, Michelle Ross brings readers 14 stories that explore different aspects of motherhood and how it changes women. The stories were all quite different, and I appreciated that. Each focused on a different type of mother or different stage of motherhood. I wasn't expecting the stories to feel so realistic or relatable, but some of them really were. The tone of the stories was a bit more negative and bleak than I was hoping for, but it all did feel very honest. Some of the stories missed the mark for me - either I felt like I wasn't totally "getting" the intention of the story or they ended too abruptly. However, there were a couple standouts:
"After Pangaea" - This is the first story in the collection and was a great way to start off. A woman is compelled to camp out in her car to make sure she's first on the list to get her son into a good kindergarten. This story touched on how competitive parenting can be, but it also explored how as a mother, she is somewhat expected to do such things, however uncomfortable, for her children, while her husband is praised for doing what seems like the bare minimum at times. She seems completely unappreciated, and I really felt for the character.
"Lifecycle of an Ungrateful Daughter" - This story is told in vignettes at different stages of the mother/daughter relationship. The mother has certain hopes of what their relationship will be like, but inevitably she seems to be disappointed. Motherhood is not what she thought it would be (at least in regards to this child), and although she tries her best, the gap between her and her daughter continues to grow over the years.
"Three-Week Checkup" - I related to this story about a new mother, Deena, and her struggles to make it through each day. I could feel her exhaustion and chuckled a bit at how she responded to the pediatrician's questions about the baby's habits. Thankfully, my husband is way more helpful and involved than Deena's husband, but I still sympathized with her desire to test him and try to get him to help more with the baby.
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