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Book Review: Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach, Illustrated by Ricardo Cortés

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Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach, illustrated by Ricardo Cortés, is a gem for guilt-ridden parents, tired out of their wits, hopelessly hysterical, shamelessly controlled by small people with loud voices, hoping against hope they can crawl to their beds and (die) stare at the TV screen unseeingly, dipping their hands into the bowl of pop corn in listless zombie-like motions, smear anti-cellulite cream over their baby fat bellies and sink into the all-forgiving oblivion of sleep…

Not so fast! Because if you don’t get those cookies over to your offspring, and that milk, and that water, if you don’t read another book, or tuck their blankets right, or get rid of the monster in the closet, you are risking a minor seizure, or a major fit, with a tiresomely repetitive outcome: the child peacefully asleep in their fluffy bed, angelic expression and cutely parted lips in place, and you nursing your migraine with vodka, curling a lock of greasy hair around your (middle) finger wondering how indeed to go the f*ck to sleep when you have been set tick-tock-ticking before you ka-boom right into your own face.

‘Go the f*ck to sleep’ is what you breathe out in anger when you can take it no longer, this is the song you secretly wish to sing to your beloved child, the words that come out at the lowest of volumes when you really want to scream them at the top of your lungs. The book is fresh and invigorating because of its belligerent realism: in case no one noticed parenting is one of the hardest jobs around but plenty of chicken-heads out there will shame you out of complaining about it once in a while. The honesty of Go the F**k to Sleep may be over the top for some readers but I am not here to discuss their issues (God help that shrink). The book is genius, period; and it will send you laughing so hard you will not feel your abs (who needs those crunches?).

The juxtaposition of falsely soothing repetition and the deceptively cute drawings by Ricardo Cortés against the oh-so-adult vulgarisms is sinfully tasty and hopefully the violent bursts of laughter will not wake that angel (yep, I said angel). All the usual suspect characters and the setting clichés are here: the cute tiger cubs and the starry moon-lit skies; pyjama sporting toddlers and the bright green grass; woolly lambs and majestically soaring mountains. So the fun obscenities are grossly out of tune for a brutal satirical effect:

The cats nestle close to their kittens
The lambs have laid down with the sheep
You’re cozy and warm in your bed, my dear
Please go the fuck to sleep

If you know what it’s like to cry and laugh at the same time, not because you intend to but because you no longer know which action represents which emotion; if you wonder how many miles you make around the house simply putting idiotic objects back where they belong; if your house smells, sounds and looks like a zoo; if you find yourself so exhausted at night you hang on to walls to crawl into bed only to lay there with your eyes wide open because the racing thoughts in your head won’t stop racing; if your hands tremble and your lips twitch uncontrollably at the sound of a completely innocent word –‘water’; if you are looking for tastefully delicious profanity in the name of uncontrollable giggles with no guilt strings attached, Go the F**k to Sleep is the book for you. Enjoy and keep away from those nosy children. Yep, that means you have to put it on that one and only L-A-S-T shelf in the house they can’t reach. Damn, I have to get a patent on that under-ceiling storage unit. If only it stayed up… (Rubbing her black and blue forehead).

Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach, illustrated by Ricardo Cortés, is the perfect pick-up for Father’s Day.

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About Sviatlana Piatakova

  • http://judefolly.com jude folly

    part of the book’s promotion includes a recorded reading by samuel l. jackson. upon hearing it i realized that this adult ‘lullaby’ is equal parts mary poppins (singing ‘stay awake’) and pulp fiction’s jules winnfield: an entertaining mix of sweet & sadistic.