REVIEW: The Classroom, A.L. Bird

Monday, 12 November 2018

Letting go of your daughter for the first time isn’t easy. After years of IVF, Kirsten White is a devoted mum to Harriet and she can’t believe the time has come to send her little girl off to school. But Harriet has now turned five, and she can’t stay Kirsten’s baby forever. It might be hard, but it’s time to entrust her daughter’s care to her new teacher. The classroom is the one place she should be safe. Miriam Robertson has been waiting for the perfect little girl to walk into her class. She’s very picky but when Harriet walks in, Miriam knows: this is the child she’s been waiting for. Harriet knows not to speak to strangers. But her lovely new teacher isn’t a stranger at all. In fact, she’s her new best friend. And you can always trust your friends can’t you? 

I must admit that, before discovering April of Getting Hygge With It’s book review channel on Youtube, I was entirely oblivious to the portrayal of female infertility in mystery/thriller novels. But, now that my eyes have been opened, I can’t look away. Primarily, because they’re bloody everywhere.
It appears more and more evident to me that, from the perspective of much of society, female infertility is connected with an inherent sense of evil, or just plain poor character. As though women who have the inability to conceive, have failed in some way and are no longer able to be seen as human.
It is an idea that springs The Handmaid’s Tale to mind, primarily because my grandma and I have been binged the television series, because in that, male fertility is unquestioned and the ability to conceive healthy children (the failure of which having led to the society) is seen as a problem solely for the women to bear. Infertile women are therefore discarded, sent to shovel radiation or killed.
At first, this way of thinking seemed so alien and yet, it seems to permeate the portrayal of women, both in the media and those around us.
Most female antagonists in the hit domestic-thriller genre are infertile; driven mad by the need to have a child and willing to do whatever it takes to have one in their possession. Maternal love and affection is put out of the equation, the villain doesn’t want anything so humanising - she simply sees the child as a thing, a status symbol, a possession. It seems that, to make a woman truly evil in the laziest possible way, writers simply take away their ability to fit into the maternal role, to stop them from inhabiting the Virgin Mary archetype, if you will (paragon of virtue, mother to all, yada yada yada).
The Classroom is, without a doubt, a casualty of this laziness.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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