Norma Klein Letty Cottin Pogrebin - Essay

Letty Cottin Pogrebin

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Motherhood is sacred. But only when it happens to married women.

Children are precious. But only when they're born after the wedding. Mothers and children who fail to satisfy the above qualifications are somehow rendered less sacred and less precious. Society has a name for such unfortunate deviates from the American norm. We call them "unwed mothers" and "illegitimate children"—two categories which just happen to coincide with the Library of Congress catalog listings assigned to Norma Klein's novel. "Mom, the Wolf Man and Me." …

[If we were to steer] clear of a book bearing such socially tragic labels, [we] would miss meeting an extraordinary, dear, funny bunch of almost ordinary people: 11-year-old Brett, who worries that her mother will get married and turn normal; kooky, competent Mom—photographer, peace-marcher, iconoclast in blue jeans who treats her daughter as a full-fledged person; Grandma, who never quite comes to terms with her daughter's way of life; Grandpa, as enviable a father-figure as any girl could wish—a sensitive, compassionate psychoanalyst who keeps an imaginary alligator in his tub; Theo (whom Brett dubs The Wolf Man), a bearded bear of a man who teaches the mentally retarded, bakes bread and talks "in this very regular way, as though he didn't know you were a child and he wasn't"; and all the other friends with their very human problems familiar to children's lives though not...

(The entire section is 517 words.)