One cool spring morning, Kim Brooks made a split-second decision to leave her four-year-old son in the car while she ran into a store. What happened would consume the next several years of her life and ultimately motivated her to begin writing about the broader subject of parenthood and fear. In Small Animals, Brooks asks, Of all the emotions inherent in parenting, is there any more universal or profound than fear? To be a parent is to be afraid. And yet, the objects and intensity of our fear vary based on culture, temperament, and the historical moment in which we live.
In the signature style—by turns funny, penetrating, and always illuminating—that has dazzled millions of fans of the essays she publishes in New York Magazine, LennyLetter, Salon, and Buzzfeed, Brooks blends personal memoir, investigative reporting and sociological critique to ask: Why have our notions of what it means to be a good parent changed so radically in the course of a generation? In what ways do these changes impact the lives of parents, children, and the structure of society at large? And what, in the end, does the rise of fearful parenting tell us about our children, our communities, and ourselves? By telling her own story and probing our culture at large, Brooks offers a provocative, compelling portrait of parenthood in American and calls us to examine what we most value in our relationships with our children and one another.