March 3, 2010

Stepmonster by Wednesday Martin

REASON READ: arc/are, 100+ Challenge, ARC Challenge, A to Z Challenge
PUBLISHER: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
GENRE: Nonfiction
FORMAT/PAGES: Hardcover/320 pgs.
RATING: 4 Stars

Everyone knows the story of the Evil Stepmother. She only has her own interests at heart. She treats the stepchild like a slave. She yells, berates, demeans, and discourages. She may even be trying to kill you.

Now, anyone who has dated and/or married someone with a child/children knows all too well that the stereotypical stepmother is one that not only the children latch onto, but too often the stepmother as well. With half of the women in the United States living with, married to, or going to be living with a man with children, the feeling of being a "Stepmonster" is all too real.

But never fear, Wednesday Martin has come to save step-relationships everywhere with this well-researched and well-written book. Martin uncovers the emotional mysteries of the stepmother- why does a stepmother think, act, and feel they way she does? Being in a relationship with a man with children is not for the selfish, lazy, or faint of heart. It is hard work to create any kind of relationship (especially the older the stepchildren are) at all, much less one that is based on mutual understanding and love.

Martin identifies five specific issues that create drama in the step-family, from the fairy tales and myths of the blended family to competitions. Martin writes from the knowing perspective of a woman who has been there, done that. The book is broken down into easily digestible "chunks" and there is more than enough food for thought. She splashes stories of real blended families and their conflicts throughout the book to shout "You're Not Alone!", and she doesn't pin the blame for the way things are in the step-family situation on anyone or anything, but uses even the Wicked Stepmother analogy to show how to gain understanding.

I recommend Stepmonster to stepmothers everywhere. I even think grown stepchildren could learn quite a lot from this book, even though it is targeted at the stepmother.

**I am giving away my copy of Stepmonster on Goodreads with the condition that the recipient reviews the book on their blog, Goodreads, Amazon, or another review site.

Wednesday Martin, Ph.D., was a regular contributor to the New York Post's parenting page for several years, and her work has appeared in a number of national magazines. She earned her doctorate in comparative literature from Yale and taught cultural studies and literature at Yale, the New School, and Baruch College. Martin, a stepmother for nine years, lives in New York City with her husband and their two sons.


  1. This looks good! I was just talking about this with my friend the other day, how much fairy tales and, well, most things really, tend to demonize step-parents. Yay for Dr. Martin for working to set the record straight!

  2. I think being a stepmom must be challenging -- I became aware of this when my dad remarried. This sounds like an important book.

  3. I'm so thankful that I'm not a stepmom, but I truly enjoyed your thoughts on this and I'm sure that there are a lot of people who could use this book!

  4. This sounds great. There are just not enough books about stepparenting out there, especially when you consider all the people in that situation!

  5. Well, obviously the step-mother feels threatened by the step-child/ren, especially in a society where a woman can only express her power through her children as we see in fairy tales.

    Meeting kids of the person you're dating is scary. O.O

  6. This sounds really interesting. Granted, this isn't a subject that I can really relate to on any level, nor is it one that I have given any thought to, it still is interesting to learn about different kinds of family dynamics.


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