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  • Published: 13 June 2023
  • ISBN: 9781529158526
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $22.99

The School for Good Mothers

‘Will resonate with fans of Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere’ ELLE

'A Handmaid's Tale for the 21st Century' INDIA KNIGHT


'Will resonate with fans of Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere' ELLE
'Destined to be a feminist classic - kept me up at night' PANDORA SYKES
'The Handmaid's Tale for the Squid Game generation' TELEGRAPH

Frida Liu had fed and changed her toddler Harriet. She had a work deadline - an article to finish, a job hanging by a thread, a file she'd left in the office. She would go get it. Harriet would be fine. But then the neighbours heard her crying.

Soon, the state will decide that Frida is not fit to care for her daughter. That she must be re-trained. That bad mothers everywhere will be re-educated. Will their mistakes cost them everything?

The School for Good Mothers is an explosive and thrilling novel about love, perfectionism and parenthood.

A riveting, thought-provoking read' DAILY MAIL
'A remarkable, propulsive novel' VOGUE
'A portrait of our fanatical culture of judgement against women, and mothers in particular' METRO

  • Published: 13 June 2023
  • ISBN: 9781529158526
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

Jessamine Chan

Jessamine Chan holds an MFA from Columbia University, where she was awarded a teaching fellowship. Her short fiction has appeared in Tin House and Epoch. Her work has also received support from Bread Loaf, the Wurlitzer Foundation, Jentel, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, the Anderson Center, VCCA, and Ragdale. Prior to moving to Philadelphia, where she lives with her husband and daughter, she worked as a nonfiction reviews editor at Publishers Weekly.

Praise for The School for Good Mothers

A timely and remarkable debut

Carmen Maria Machado, author of HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES

Heartbreaking and daring, propulsive and wise. I read it with my heart in my throat and I held my kids tight.

Diane Cook, author of the Booker Prize finalist THE NEW WILDERNESS

Jessamine Chan captures, in heartbreaking tones, the exacting price women pay in a patriarchal society that despises them, that reduces their worth to their viability for procreation and capacity for mothering. The School for Good Mothers is not so much a warning for some possible dystopian nightmare as much as it is an alarm announcing that the nightmare is here. The book is, thus, a weeping testimony, a haunting song, and a piercing rebuke of both the misogynist social order and the traps it lays for women, girls, and femmes. Good Mothers deserves an honored place next to the works of Margaret Atwood and Octavia Butler.

Robert Jones, Jr., author of THE PROPHETS and creator of Son of Baldwin

This book is like nothing I've read before. Haunting and unforgettable, and I'm in awe of Jessamine Chan's mind.

Liz Moore, author of LONG BRIGHT RIVER and HEFT

This taut, explosive novel is all the more terrifying because it edges so close to reality. Frida's predicament embodies the fraught question so many women are taught to ask: Am I good enough?

Leni Zumas, author of RED CLOCKS

A haunting tale of identity and motherhood - as devastating as it is imaginative

Afua Hirsch

[An] enthralling speculative debut . . . A powerful story, made more so by its empathetic and complicated heroine

Kirkus Starred Review

Enthralling....a powerful story, made more so by its empathetic and complicated heroine

Publishers Weekly

Gutting and terrifying. Vivid and exquisite. In The School for Good Mothers, you'll find not only your favourite novel of the year, but also a new cultural touchstone, a reference point for the everyday horrors all parents experience and take for granted. This book is sharp, shocking, anxiety-provoking, superb. It is exactly what you want, and need, to read

Julia Phillips

Impossible to stop reading -- Chan captures the terrifying helplessness of a mother making bad choices and losing control in a fascinating dystopia of state surveillance. This brilliant rendering of a flawed and complicated heroine highlights many compelling issues of race and expectations of motherhood, with masterful storytelling of love and heartbreak and terror and suspense

Frances Cha

A taut and propulsive take on the cult of motherhood and the notion of what makes a good mother. Destined to be feminist classic - it kept me up at night

Pandora Sykes

Incredibly clever, funny and pertinent to the world we're living in at the moment

Daisy Johnson, author of EVERYTHING UNDER

A gripping, witty and ultimately redemptive vision of dystopian motherhood

Leah Hazard, author of HARD PUSHED

Picks up the mantel of writers like Margaret Atwood and Kazuo Ishiguro . . . but it also stands on its own as a remarkable, propulsive novel. At a moment when state control over women's bodies (and autonomy) seems ever more chilling, the book feels horrifyingly unbelievable and eerily prescient all at once

Vogue, The Best Books of 2022

(An) intense, unputdownable debut that will doubtless spark conversation about what makes a good or bad mother

Oprah Daily

This scarily prescient novel that's reminiscent of Orwell and Vonnegut explores the depths of parents' love, how strictly we judge mothers and each other and the terrifying potential of government overreach

Good Housekeeping (US)

(An) infuriatingly timely debut novel... that may read more like a preview than a dystopia, depending on your faith in the future of Roe v. Wade

New York Times

No book has ever made me cry this much. The School for Good Mothers is an absolute masterpiece

Rosie Walker, author of Secrets of a Serial Killer

Examining race, privilege and the pressures of perfectionism, it will resonate with fans of Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere


This beautifully lucid, crisp first novel is like a Handmaid's Tale for the 21st century, but both easier going and more devastating. Is a mother's love ever good enough? Does becoming a mother mean mothballing all your former selves for good? There is fury behind Chan's precise and elegant prose, and sly humour too. A must-read

India Knight, Sunday Times

A clever premise, well executed in lean, lucid prose - The Handmaid's Tale for the Squid Game generation

The Telegraph

A powerful story


Chan's high-concept novel may toy with dystopia but it remains chillingly plausible, a portrait of our fanatical culture of judgement against women, and mothers in particular, taken to a grotesquely logical extreme


A gripping debut

Mail on Sunday

A nail-biting explosive story exploring the pressures of 'perfect' parenting

Woman's Own Magazine

The School for Good Mothers imagines a world terrifyingly close to our own - a world in which the slightest parenting misstep, the tiniest error of judgement, is enough for the authorities to remove your child and send you for 're-education'. One for fans of The Handmaid's Tale and any exhausted parent who has fantasised - if only for a moment - about getting in the car and driving far, far away from it all

Refinery29 UK

The School For Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan . . . has become all too resonant given the rumblings behind Texas' anti-trans directive and it explores just how far the state could go when it comes to deciding what makes 'a good mother'

Stylist UK

A riveting, thought-provoking read

Daily Mail

The writing is at times hilarious and scalpel sharp

Independent (Ireland)

Part science fiction, part incarceration narrative and part Cultural Revolution memoir, it is as gripping as it is terrifying - and for mothers struggling to 'do the right thing', all too believable

Spiked Online

A wry, thoughtful novel


Propulsive and provocative

Daily Express

The School For Good Mothers is a perceptive, prescient and daring debut that presents a dystopia that doesn't feel as far away as we'd like it to


An unforgettable an haunting story about the thoughts, opinions and choices you make

Woman's Weekly

Reminiscent of The Handmaid's Tale, this eerie page-turner is a captivating depiction of a dystopian world that feels entirely possible. It's not only the gripping story of Frida's personal struggle, but also a thought-provoking work of commentary on American motherhood


I was fascinated and intrigued by this feminist dystopian novel

Daily Mail

A remarkable, propulsive novel


So brilliant and haunting and ahead of its time... the only book that has ever stopped me from sleeping

Jessie Cave