Mom Genes: Inside the New Science of Our Ancient Maternal Instinct (Paperback)
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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Lion in the Living Room comes a fascinating and provocative exploration of the biology of motherhood that “is witty, reassuring, and takes motherhood out of the footnotes and places it front and center—where it belongs” (Louann Brizendine, MD, New York Times bestselling author).
Everyone knows how babies are made, but scientists are only just beginning to understand the making of a mother. Mom Genes reveals the hard science behind our tenderest maternal impulses, tackling questions such as why mothers are destined to mimic their own moms (or not), how maternal aggression makes females the world’s most formidable creatures, and how a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic can make or break a mom.
Weaving the latest research with Abigail Tucker’s personal experiences, Mom Genes “is an eye-opening tour through the biology and psychology of a role that is at once utterly ordinary and wondrously strange” (Annie Murphy Paul, author of Origins).
About the Author
Abigail Tucker’s work has been featured in the Best American Science and Nature Writing series. She is the New York Times bestselling author of The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World, named a Best Science Book of 2016 by Library Journal and Forbes, now translated into thirteen languages. A correspondent for Smithsonian magazine, she lives in New Haven, Connecticut, with her husband and four (equally amazing) children.
“This is a fascinating book….Her stories about her own parenting misadventures, including her emergency C-section and a bout with postpartum depression, helpfully illustrate the role context plays in our experience of parenthood.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“[Tucker's] ability to break down complex topics and conflicting research is formidable… Mom Genes is a book for the many mothers within—and those willing to see them in a new light.”
—The Washington Post
Tucker climbed that mountain of inconclusive science about how humans succeed at the terrifying and ancient task of mothering only to find the answers closer to home… [Readers will] see that an intriguing subject — the author herself — awaits you."
—New York Times Book Review
“Tucker’s enthusiasm radiates on every page, and her dive in to the wacky world of motherhood is fascinating.”
“Meticulously researched and well-documented, Mom Genes is one part memoir (Tucker intersperses her own experiences as a white mother of four children), and one part incredibly readable popular science… Richly entertaining, filled with humor, and deeply informative, this engaging book is recommended for mothers, potential mothers, and anyone who has ever known a mother.”
—Library Journal, starred review
“Using clever, colorful, figurative language and a warm, conversational tone, Tucker documents the complex challenges women who become mothers face.”
“Tucker has a knack for making complex science accessible, and she encouragingly touts the importance of mothers having a support system… Moms-to-be in search of a straightforward look at the changes ahead will find this a good place to start.”
“Tucker is a consistently energetic guide, and she doesn’t shy away from discussing ‘the dangerous and opaque mental problems that hound moms.’ In a particularly vibrant chapter, the author explores the countless deleterious effects of poverty and how American society continually fails to provide the support that mothers deserve. Filling in the gaps and moving the story forward are Tucker’s personal observations—she is the mother of four—and the ups and downs of her experiences, many of which will be familiar to mothers of all backgrounds.”
“Shocking and yet somehow reassuring...Whether you're a mom, know a mom (of any species), or ever had a mom (that's pretty much everybody), you are going to want to read this surprising and rigorously-researched book.”
—Sy Montgomery, New York Times bestselling author of The Soul of an Octopus
“Mom Genes is my new favorite book on motherhood: fascinating, informative, funny, and smart as a whip. Abby Tucker is the friend you want to lean on when you’re wondering how to cope with your child, the researcher who can explain a thousand weird, wonderful aspects of parenting, and the quirky thinker who can open your mind to the strangeness and beauty of being a mother.”
—Martha Beck, New York Times bestselling author of Expecting Adam
“Mom Genes is witty, reassuring, and takes motherhood out of the footnotes and places it front and center—where it belongs!”
—Louann Brizendine, MD, author of New York Times bestseller The Female Brain
“Filled with jaw-dropping facts and findings, this brilliant, absolutely fascinating book grabbed me from page one. In Mom Genes, Abigail Tucker distills an extraordinary range of cutting-edge research into fun, accessible chapters. Written in an engaging, often hilarious voice, Mom Genes illuminates the biology of everything motherly. I couldn’t put it down.”
—Amy Chua, Yale Law professor and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations
“I’m a father, but I found every page of this gripping and wonderful—not least because of the author’s rare skill at making science vividly understandable to lay readers.”
—John Colapinto, New York Times bestselling author of As Nature Made Him
“With thorough research, keen insight, and wry humor, Abigail Tucker shows us why moms are different from other people—even, daresay, special, with superpowers that science is just beginning to reveal. For anyone who is a mother, or who has a mother, her book is an eye-opening tour through the biology and psychology of a role that is once utterly ordinary and wondrously strange.”
–Annie Murphy Paul, author of Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives
“Deeply researched and compulsively readable, Mom Genes illuminates the ancient biological roots of modern motherhood. Tucker narrates vividly and often hilariously on a journey that travels from the nursery to the laboratory and back again, out into the wild and across time. I loved this book and its rich exploration of the causes—and consequences—of becoming a mother.”
—K.S. Bowers, coauthor of Wildhood and Zoobiquity
“An entertaining storyteller, [Tucker] weaves neuroscience with tales from all kinds of mammal moms, including her own travails and joys. If you’ve ever had a hunch that motherhood changed your brain forever, Mom Genes not only confirms your suspicions, but shows you how and why.”
—Randi Hutter Epstein, MD, author of Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything