More Thoughts on ‘Parents’ Worst Nightmare Books’

I read this post by Tracy Grant on The Washington Post‘s Momspeak blog yesterday about bestselling books that mirror some of the ‘what-if’ fears that parents often have. It reminded me of the post I wrote last month about “parents’ worst nightmare books” that cover themes that scare the hell out of parents: kidnapping, kids committing violent crimes, sexual abuse of kids, kids doing drugs, etc.

Grant has an explanation for why some of these books become bestsellers:

They mirror back to us the fears we have as parents, especially the fears for our teenagers. Intellectually, we know they will probably be okay. We’ve given them the advantages of good schools, carpools, extracurricular activities. We know their friends, their friends’ parents. Our kids are good kids, we say. Part affirmation. Part furtive prayer.

But then something like Columbine or Trayvon happens, and we feel — perhaps irrationally but no less honestly — that our perfectly constructed lives teeter on a razor’s edge.

We don’t want to look, but we can’t help ourselves.

She makes a great point. It’s the voyeur in us, the one who whispers, “Thank god that’s not happening to me”, who devours these books. There’s even a name for this genre: “domestic thrillers”.

I haven’t read any of the books she mentions, but they seem to cover some of the same topics as the ones I linked to in my post.



  • Len
    April 6, 2012 - 3:00 pm | Permalink

    FYI…there’s an extra http:// at the end of your link, which renders it inoperative. I think Grant

    But what I really wanted to tell you is about a book I just finished that is in the “worst nightmare” category: Hannah Pittard’s “The Fates Will Find Their Way.” It begins with a girl’s disappearance but the main narrators are the teenaged boys who knew her. The focus isn’t really on the nightmare, but rather on playing out they boys’ theories about what happened and how the pieces of the story eventually combine into one version of the truth. It’s a lot less confusing (and a lot more interesting) than I’ve made it sound. Unfortunately, I’m a little sleep deprived and cannot describe it effectively. Regardless, it’s a fascinating read.

    • gayle
      April 6, 2012 - 3:04 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Len! I appreciate the heads up on the link – I fixed it.

      Sounds like a great book – reminds me of The Virgin Suicides a bit too. Will check it out!

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