Skip to main content


February 17, 2009

Katherine Center: Fictional and Real-Life Moments

Posted by carol
Katherine Center is no stranger to reading groups, having visited "tons" of them to talk about her novel The Bright Side of Disaster. Along with some memorable book club moments, Katherine shares her thoughts on motherhood --- one topic that will likely strike a chord with reading group members who discuss her new novel, Everyone Is Beautiful, which is on sale today.

I have never visited a book club that I did not want to join. And I've visited tons: dinner book clubs, Sunday afternoon book clubs, breakfast book clubs, new mom book clubs, new grandma book clubs, wine-and-chocolate-cake book clubs. I've been to book clubs that gave me a podium and expected a detailed analysis of plot and character, and I've been to neighborhood book clubs --- my own included --- where nobody ever read the book. Even mine.

But every single one has been a delight. And that's not what I'd expected. I'd expected to like some more than others, to connect better to some than others, to have some stand-outs in my memory. Instead, I remember a haze of good food, warm people, and lots of laughs.

For my first novel, the same topics have come up over and over at book clubs: the craziness of the early months with a new baby; bad boyfriends versus good ones; breastfeeding gone awry; and the value --- when your life is veering off course --- of a good, strong, sassy mother to tell it like it is.

For my second novel, as it goes on sale, I find myself wondering what we'll talk about when I go to see those clubs again. Everyone Is Beautiful is in part a love story about married people, and I know we'll talk about the challenge of keeping romance alive when you are knee-deep in parenting small children. I know we'll talk about all the crazy things toddlers do --- the heartbreak and hilarity of life with little kids.

And I know we'll talk about what all the moms I know seem to be discussing right now --- the amazing tension you face as a mother between taking proper care of your family and taking proper care of yourself. Because there are only so many hours in the day, and whether we want to or not, we all have to make choices. The baby's asleep! Do you: A) Walk on the treadmill? B) Load the dishwasher? C) Put away the toys? D) Take a shower? E) Scrub the grout in the bathroom with a toothbrush? F) Take a nap? So far, I have always picked the nap. But any day now I'm going to start picking the treadmill.

It's not easy. The stakes are so high. You love your children so fiercely. You feel the weight of the rest of their lives on your shoulders. You want to do the right thing. And yourself? You can get something to eat later. You can go to the gym tomorrow.

I've always believed if I thought about a problem hard enough, I could figure it out. But with motherhood, the answers are never clear. There are always too many important things going on and too little time. There's always more you could be doing. There's always a chance you'll make a mistake you can never take back. And there's always, always those impossibly soft cheeks and those plump little bodies, wrapping their arms around you and saying your name over and over --- that name that you have to earn and cherish every day. Mama.

---Katherine Center