One of the most anticipated debut novels of 2014, Cutting Teeth takes place one late-summer weekend as a group of thirty-something couples gather at a shabby beach house on Long Island, their young children in tow.
They include Nicole, the neurotic hostess terrified by internet rumors that something big and bad is going to happen in New York City that week; stay-at-home dad Rip, grappling with the reality that his careerist wife will likely deny him a second child, forcing him to disrupt the life he loves; Allie, one half of a two-mom family, and an ambitious artist, facing her ambivalence toward family life; Tiffany, comfortable with her amazing body but not so comfortable in the upper-middle class world the other characters were born into; and Leigh, a blue blood secretly facing financial ruin and dependent on Tenzin, the magical Tibetan nanny everyone else covets.
These tensions build, burn, and collide over the course of the weekend, culminating in a scene in which the ultimate rule of the group is broken.
Cutting Teeth captures the complex dilemmas of early midlife—the vicissitudes of friendship, of romantic and familial love, and of sex. It confronts class tension, status hunger, and the unease of being in possession of life’s greatest bounty while still wondering, is this as good as it gets? It exposes the motives that drive us to commit the bad behaviors we thought we’d left behind in our 20s, and reveals the damage those mistakes inflict. And, perhaps most of all, Julia Fierro’s thought-provoking debut explores the all-consuming love we feel for those we need most, and the sacrifice and self-compromise that underpins that love.
All this is packed into a page-turning, character-driven novel that crackles with life and unexpected twists and turns that will keep readers glued as they cringe and laugh with compassion, incredulousness, and, most of all, self-recognition. Cutting Teeth is a warm, whip-smart and unpretentious literary novel, perfect for readers of Tom Perrotta and Meg Wolitzer.
Praise for Cutting Teeth:
“Julia Fierro’s satiric and sharply written novel Cutting Teeth inhabits the gluten-free, anxiety-ridden worlds of six over-indulgent Brooklyn parents, all members of the same playgroup. Even if you aren’t a parent, Fierro’s look at the inner workings of her characters’ minds makes this an emotional and compelling story. At times heart-wrenching and, at others, hilarious, Fierro produces a true-to-life narrative more addictive than these fictional parents’ worst vices. Indulge.”
- Oprah.com Book of the Week May 27th, 2014 – review by Abbe Wright
“Cutting Teeth sings with beautiful sentences, masterfully crafted scenes, and a deeply imagined inner life for each of her characters. Cutting Teeth offers a fresh perspective on the journey of parenting that is at once modern and timeless: There are no easy solutions or formulas for happiness here, just the reality that the care and feeding and great responsibility of raising a human being is complicated, love-struck, deeply sad, and also capable of providing emotional rewards that no other experience can.”
“Entertaining, wise, heart-breaking at times, Cutting Teeth is an outstanding debut. Julia Fierro’s particular genius is her ability to understand and render the vagaries of the human heart.”
~ Therese Anne Fowler, author of the bestselling Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
“Timely and observant, Julia Fierro’s debut feels like real life. She captures the anxiety of our times with the authority, insight—and humor—of lived experience.”
~ Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Age of Miracles
“Cutting Teeth offers immense rewards to readers far beyond those who will identify with the frantic, conflicted, yearning parents who fill the novel (though many will). It’s for any reader seeking a tale rich in character, strong in voice and filled with both incisive social critique and a luminous generosity of spirit, a rare combination indeed.”
~ Megan Abbott, author of Dare Me, The End of Everything and The Fever
“The anxieties and rivalries among four Brooklyn couples are deftly, wittily, and, at times, mercilessly captured in Julia Fierro’s very engaging first novel, Cutting Teeth. Fierro displays an impressive gift for acute characterization and a deep understanding of the way status hunger warps relationships.”
~ Joyce Johnson, author of Minor Characters and The Voice Is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac
I’d read nearly fifty pages before I came up for breath—Cutting Teeth is immediately satisfying and emotionally astute. Fierro’s writing is clear and precise, and in her hands, this ambitious project, told through many different voices, reads as smoothly as a peanut butter sandwich with the crusts cut off.
~ Emma Straub, author of Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures & Other People We Married
I fell in love with Cutting Teeth’s insightful, graceful voice, and a narrative that carried me from beginning to end in one rush. A compelling debut infused with compassion.
~ Jean Kwok, author of Girl in Translation
“Cutting Teeth is one of the most compelling and trenchant novels I’ve read in years. Julia Fierro has given us a fearless and unrelenting portrait of urban parenting—its nuanced complexities, its ceaseless labor, its rare but transcendent moments of pleasure—and she’s done so with dark humor, refreshing intelligence, and bottomless empathy. This is an exceptional book, one that holds a magnifying glass up to each of us so that we see ourselves more completely or burn from the exposure. I can think of no higher praise.”
~ Bret Anthony Johnston, author of Remember Me Like This and Corpus Christi
“From the very first sentence, Julia Fierro captures the essence of contemporary parental anxieties. Cutting Teeth is incredibly compelling, and her style is the perfect mix of gorgeous prose and an urgent and necessary narrative. This is a book that everyone struggling with their place in this world needs to read.”
~ Michele Filgate, writer, critic and independent bookseller
“Fierro’s powerful debut nails the complexities of being a parent in the 21st century. Filled with a huge cast of moms (and a dad), this novel brilliantly captures the highs and lows that come along with having children. Poignant, relatable and at times gasp-worthy, Cutting Teeth is a page-turner told from the perspectives of a variety of characters.”
- RT Book Reviews **Starred Review** April 2014 issue
“Fierro’s first novel captures the complexity of forging new friendships and redefining lives as contemporary parents. Her characters are meticulously drawn, the situations emotionally charged. Readers, especially young parents, won’t be able to look away.”
- Booklist April 2014 issue
“In her debut, Fierro, a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, creates a wide variety of characters whose only common ground is their children, effectively capturing the conflicted relationships all parents have with their children and with one another. Too much time together makes these mothers and fathers act a lot like their preschool children and brings out the underlying discontents in their lives.”
- Library Journal April 2014 issue