Mother Country

Graywolf. May 2022. 320p. ISBN 9781644450871. pap. $17. F
Neglected as a child, Black American Shannon is swamped with debt after college and then sustains injuries in a car accident that result in job loss, chronic pain, and an inability to have children. On a second trip to Morocco with her husband, whom she married more for security than love, she notices a three-year-old girl seemingly alone in the marketplace. Her need to be a mother buries her common sense, and she kidnaps the child, bribes embassy officials to fake the necessary paperwork, and returns to the United States with little Yumna. Renamed Mira, Yumna is actually the cherished daughter of Souria, a Mauritanian woman who has already survived enslavement, trafficking, and abuse and is frantic when she cannot find her daughter. Yet Souria has limited recourse because she is in Morocco illegally. After five years, Shannon finally returns to Morocco to find Mira’s mother, with the eventual reunion revealing the stark difference between the two mothers’ lives.
VERDICT Winner of the Janet Heidinger Kafka and James Fenimore Cooper prizes for Saint Monkey, Townsend provides many perspectives on motherhood while addressing potent issues of kidnapping, slavery, rape, abuse, and neglect, and vividly depicting their consequences. Highly recommended.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing