by Ariel Gore
(Seal Press)

Book release party: Tues June 20, 7 pm, at the Old Church, 1422 SW 11; Call Reading Frenzy, 274-1449 for info.

Ariel Gore consistently does right by moms. Longtime publisher of the witty Hip Mama magazine, her first book, Hip Mama Survival Guide, is more like an intelligent, animated conversation than a parenting guide.

The reason? She's entirely, unfalteringly real. She's a 30-year-old, single mom, sure, but there's no way she'll be pigeonholed into being only that. More importantly, by being unfalteringly honest about her frustration and desires ("Explain to me why it is more socially acceptable to be the Air Force hack who drops cluster bombs on small countries than it is to be a mom who has a paying job,") she sends out a message: sometimes, you should send the kids with a friend and take a bath--and for god's sake, don't feel guilty about it. Makes sense, but when most books for parents preach mommy martyrdom, Ariel Gore's approach is like a hand reaching out to pull you from the quicksand of guilt.

In The Mother Trip, Gore reinforces that idea through a series of gorgeously written, autobiographical essays. She simply explains parts of her life, from memories of being pregnant in Italy, to her own mother doing the "unacceptable" (marrying a Roman Catholic priest), to balancing her creativity and caring for her daughter. Gore never lies about her desires, her exhaustion, her fear, or her bewilderment; she lays it all out and wants to converse about it.

The Mother Trip is a book about motherhood, life, and perseverance, but most of all, it's about self-actualization. Now go take a bath. You deserve it.