Cover image for The playgroup
The playgroup
Barrett, Nina.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [1994]

Physical Description:
206 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ759 .B37 1994 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Although ostensibly writing nonfiction, Barrett repeatedly adopts a novelist's omniscient point of view, perhaps in order to reflect the problem central to the lives of three at-home mothers--wanting to "have it all." The women, who have formed an indoor play group for their small children during Chicago's long winter, never experience one of the kids smiling, let alone laughing. Their children seem to have cornered the market in whining, fighting, screaming, and dirtying diapers. Feminism, posits Barrett, enables educated, privileged women to live with men without chopping off bits of themselves, but motherhood still presents an ugly choice: have children, stay home with them, and give up your public voice; or keep your voice and consign the kids to a caretaker who might prove inadequate if not downright reprehensible. Women who reject self-mutilation by refusing to let go of will and desire while having and loving children end up struggling with guilt and external obstacles until the stress causes bits of self to crack and break off anyway. For some problems, Barrett implies, there are no answers. ~--Whitney Scott

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this unusually direct and highly personal book, Barrett ( I Wish Someone Had Told Me ) follows the lives of three young mothers in Chicago, including herself, during the two years their children attended the same playgroup. Grace is a ``New Age'' mother who strives to use only ``politically correct'' parenting techniques; Angie feels betrayed by her husband's devotion to his career and is dismayed by his lack of interest in their child; the author struggles to balance motherhood and career without sacrificing either. Pregnancy, birth and new motherhood are the poles around which such issues as sexuality, friendship, body image, self-esteem, marital conflict and even--in Angie's case--incipient mental illness, are examined. Although these women are friends, their stories are very different. With sympathy but without sentimentality, Barrett dismantles popular conceptions about motherhood, telling something of what it is really like to be a young mother in the 1990s. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The ostensible subject of this absorbing book is a playgroup formed to enrich several young children's experiences and--most importantly--to squeeze some adult companionship and female support into their mothers' intensely busy days. But shrewdly chosen quotations from diverse sources (including popular psychology, studies of pygmy life as published in Mothering magazine, and scholarly works) reveal all-too-frequent gaps between expectation and reality and provoke discussion of connections between friendship and need. Journalist Barrett briefly recounts the personal histories of Grace, Angie, and Nina (the author herself), who set aside professional lives in order to be attentive parents, and by comparison and contrast gently but unsparingly analyzes the young mothers' relationships. Polished prose and the wonderfully effective circular structure enhance thoughtful social commentary. Valuable for all but the most highly specialized collections.-- Jane S. Bakerman, Indiana State Univ., Terre Haute (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.