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Synopsis

This is a story about the year I exploded into flames. Which turns out to be more common than you’d think, among forty-something humans. Yea, we can hold it together in our thirties, with a raft of hair products and semi-tall nonfat half-caf beverages and much brisk walking to a lot of interesting appointments. Come the forties, though, cracks begin to appear. One staggers suddenly along life’s path; gourmet coffee splats; the wig slips askew. In other words, my friends, THE WHEELS COME OFF.

Sandra Tsing Loh is the fiercest, funniest, and most incredibly honest and self-deprecating voice to emerge from the “mommy war” debates. In Mother on Fire, she fires away with her trademark hilarious satire of societal and personal irks large and small, including limo liberals who preach the virtues of public school but send their children to fashionable private ones, the proliferation of costly skin-care products that just don’t cut it, society’s obsession with aromatherapy, her Chinese father’s disdain for her life as an artist, and $10 Target pants (“Are they running pants, exercise pants, pajama pants?”) that are the ubiquitous Mother of Small Children uniform.

Prompted by her own midlife crisis, Loh throws her frantic energy not into illicit affairs, shopping binges, or exotic trips, but into the harrowing heart of contemporary, dysfunctional L.A. life when she realizes that she can’t afford private school for her daughter, and her only alternative is her neighborhood’s public school, Guavatorina, where most of the kids speak Spanish and qualify for free lunches. In a theater-of-the-absurd-style odyssey, Mother on Fire documents Loh’s “year of living dangerously” among pompous school admissions officials, lactose-intolerant, Prius-driving parents, mafia dons of public radio, vindictive bosses, and old friends with new money as she first kisses ass—and then kicks it.


From the Hardcover edition.

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