The Atlantic

Rumaan Alam Ponders the Limits of Parental Love

In his second novel, “That Kind of Mother,” the writer paints an intricate, uncomfortable portrait of transracial adoption.
Source: Joel Saget / AFP / Getty

Rumaan Alam writes women who bond over their worry. About themselves, about each other, about the world, and often about their children. In Rich and Pretty, his sharp-witted 2016 debut novel, childhood friends Sarah and Lauren fear the unraveling of their closeness as they grow older.

In Alam’s ambitious second book, , two women—Rebecca, who is white, and Cheryl, who is black—find themselves bound not by blood or years, but by some mercurial mix of love, obligation, and shared fear. Cheryl’s mother, Priscilla, who’d worked as Rebecca’s nanny, has died of labor-related complications, and Rebecca offers to care forthe surviving infant. Noting that even in grief she doesn’t “want to be someone who needs help,” Cherylwho is nearing the end of her

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