New Haven author Emily Adrian explores ‘transformative’ bonds of motherhood in new book
Whether it fills women with joy or leaves them weeping into a pile of crusty baby onesies, motherhood is not a one-size fit’s all experience.
In YA author Emily Adrian’s adult debut which was published earlier this week, her novel “Everything Here Is Under Control” zeroes in on authentic conversations about motherhood through the perspective of two estranged best friends.
When Amanda, a frazzled new mom, gets in a fight with her partner, she grabs the baby and flees New York City to her rural Ohio hometown in search of her former best friend Carrie. After a decade of not speaking, Amanda arrives on Carrie’s doorstep unannounced, convinced that Carrie is the only person who can help her get through this early stage of motherhood.
Adrian said her own introduction to motherhood was not nearly as dramatic as her character Amanda’s was, but said becoming a mom altered her relationships, especially those with other moms.
“Before I started writing the book I had just had a baby and I was thinking a lot about how motherhood changes the way you relate to other people in your life, especially to women who became mothers before you did,” Adrian said. “I had this idea to write about two women, one of whom, Amanda, the main character, has fundamentally misunderstood the experiences of the other — Carrie — and when Amanda has a baby of her own, she starts to see Carrie’s past in an entirely new context.”
When discussing the different stages of motherhood Carrie and Amanda go through in the book, Adrian said she chose them because she feels being a mother to a newborn and to a teenager are transformative stages.
“When you have a newborn, you have to go from not being a mother to being one, but when your kid becomes a teenager, they become independent from you and really resistant to your parenting,” she said. “I wanted Carrie to be in the position where she could also use the connection that Amanda offers, like she could also use that closeness at that time in her life.”
For Adrian, who previously published two YA novels, “The Foreseeable Future” and “Like It Never Happened,” making the genre jump from YA to adult fiction was rooted in the experiences she felt were most relatable to her at the time.
“My first book came out when I turned 25, so on one hand, stories about adolescence felt still very fresh to me. Obviously, becoming a mother brought a new set of adult experiences that I could write about,” she said. “I also think the change in genre was just a consequence of what I was at that time, it was such a period of sleep deprivation and emotions I’d never had before and I just wrote what I felt like I could write. The only thing I could really think about at the time was motherhood and childbirth and everything that goes along with that.”
Writing this novel was a different experience for Adrian as the author said she could only write when her son was napping or breastfeeding and noted that she hopes her depiction of motherhood helps readers feel more comfortable about having frank conversations about how they’re feeling.
“I think that there are lots of narratives about motherhood that we assign to new moms. I think that one thing readers can take away from this story is that everyone’s experience of motherhood is different and it might not be what you expect it to be or what you want it to be or what feels right to you,” the author said. “It’s a time when a lot of women, I think, are afraid to talk about the actual experience of giving birth or actual experience of having to redefine your relationship to your husband or your partner.”
Adrian said she knew she wanted to be a writer from a very young age and said she was inspired by Beverly Cleary’s stories about Ramona.
“In reading those stories I never really questioned that these ordinary little kids bumbling around Portland, Oregon, were worthy of fiction. She just makes the book so obvious and I think I’ve always tried to write realistic stories where just the most ordinary human interactions end up being riveting,” she said.
New to New Haven, Adrian said she’s excited about the buzz her new book has been generating and has found her new title popping up in listicles about summer books and books on motherhood.
“It’s been a really exciting time to watch people react to my book and have a reaction I wasn’t quite expecting,” she said.
The author said she moved to New Haven at the beginning of July as her husband will be teaching at Yale and noted that it’s a “weird time” for a move as it’s difficult to meet people while socially distancing. Adrian also said she’s currently hard at work on her next novel about a woman balancing the demands of motherhood and ambition as she tries to become the first female sports reporter to cover NBA games on national television full time.
For more information about Adrian’s books, visit emilyadrianbooks.com.