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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.