Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear by Kim Brooks

Small Animals by Kim Brooks explores daunting questions about modern parenting through the author’s personal experience and research. How are we judged as “good” parents and our children as successful while considering issues of race, gender, and socioeconomic status? How are we moved by the status games and the parenting competitions we play while scrolling through our feeds? Always mindful as we look forward and make those choices or, in many cases, imposed decisions about method of delivery, summer enrichment, daycares, or the multitude of other weighty, anxiety-driven responsibilities we impose upon ourselves.

Her candid writing is centered around an incident in which she left her son in the car while she ran into Target. An anonymous woman filmed the child in the car and notified the police. Brooks details this story while intertwining pieces of research from well-known parenting books and interviews with parenting experts.

The book’s scope seems too narrow to create a total picture of many of the fears and issues involved in parenting. It comes across as an extended article or not long enough to be a full study of parenting in book form. While she touches on other problems like physical and mental health, these sections lack the depth needed to examine the problems fully. Too much of the book revolves around her incident, ones like it, and the perceived harms a child could encounter.

Kim Brooks’s Small Animals is a personal and honest look at dealing with the “moral panics” of raising a child. It is a good read from a writer with a strong voice, but it didn’t go far enough in completing many of the viable arguments.


3 out of 5 stars.

Releases on August 21st.

Thank you to NetGalley, Flatiron Books, and Kim Brooks for the advanced copy for review.

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