'Dark' and 'Funny' Novel Explores Lives of Cobble Hill Parents

By Nikhita Venugopal on February 13, 2013 8:03am | Updated on February 13, 2013 8:36am

 Julia Fierro, 36, will publish her first novel, with St. Martin's Press in Spring 2014.
Julia Fierro, 36, will publish her first novel, with St. Martin's Press in Spring 2014.
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DNAinfo/Nikhita Venugopal

COBBLE HILL— Welcome to the complex world of modern parenting.

Local Cobble Hill writer Julia Fierro will publish her first book in spring 2014, a work of fiction told from the perspectives of five Cobble Hill moms, a stay-at-home dad and a Tibetan nanny.

The book, called “Cutting Teeth,” set over a weekend at a ramshackle beach house in Long Island, revolves around the insecurities faced by a modern parent and the desire to be perfect in that role, said Fierro, who described the novel as “dark and unintentionally funny.”

As a mother living in Brownstone Brooklyn, Fierro said she “took a part of my parenting experience and split them up into my characters.”

The book, published by St. Martin’s Press, also reflects the wealth of these families, and the pressures they often face to maintain a certain lifestyle. 

Several of the book’s smaller narratives are taken from the author’s own life, such as the story of a mother coping with a son who is a special needs student. 

“It’s the hardest job there is,” said Fierro, who has two children, ages 5 and 3.

Since moving to the neighborhood in 2002, Fierro has moved from Sackett Street to Union Street, and now resides on President. She also founded the Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop that started as a small group of Brooklyn writers and has grown to include workshops in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry writing, among others.

The book explores experiences of contemporary parents, like the stay-at-home dad whose son wants to wear a princess dress or the mother who steals money from a pre-school for in-vitro fertilization. 

But a main theme of the book, said Fierro, is the overwhelming amount of information that parents have to absorb. The book begins with a mother pushing her daughter on a swing in Carroll Park. When she hears a kid next to her daughter coughing, she grows afraid and insecure that something could happen to her own child.

Fierro has faced this kind of insecurity, she said, when she was pregnant with her second child during the swine flu epidemic. She would often visit “mommy message board” where there was an avalanche of frightening information about parenting.

“I think it’s easy to be really hard on yourself,” said Fierro, adding that ambitious and educated mothers often expect a lot from themselves.

In some ways, the books is a commentary on contemporary parenthood, said Fierro, one that some might view as “controversial.” She said she “wanted to expose her own insecurities as a mother,” something that not every parent would be willing to focus on.

But through “Cutting Teeth,” the author said she hopes parents will relate to the stories and find comfort in knowing they’re “not alone.”

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