Go The Fuck to Sleep By Adam Mansbach (Review by Amye Archer)

Akashic Books

32 Pages, $14.95

My sister, Jennie, called me on the phone one day when my twin daughters were about eighteen months old.  It was a Tuesday and it was during nap time.  My heart sank when I realized I had forgotten to silence the ringer, and I made a mad dash for the ringing cell phone.  By the time I tripped over plastic dress up heels, stepped on Legos, and navigated the sticky fingerprints on my phone, I was exasperated.

“Hello?”  I asked annoyed.

“Hey, did I catch you at a bad time?  You’ve got to turn on Oprah,” she said with urgency, “she has mothers on who are talking about how much they hate their kids.  You will love it.”

I was stunned by what she said.

“Jennie,” I replied, “I don’t hate my kids.”

“Yes you do.”

Four years later, as I think about that day and that show, I realize, my sister was right.  I did hate my kids.  Not the hatred you feel for an enemy, but the kind you feel for your boyfriend when you are fifteen.  That -love and hate wrapped up all tight in one cute little package- kind of hate.  That -I can’t stand you, you make my life miserable, but I can’t breathe without you, either- kind of hate.  I was never able to admit it to myself, until I read Go the Fuck to Sleep, Adam Mansbach’s latest not-for-kids children’s book that has all of the literary world talking.

Go the Fuck to Sleep is a simple concept.  Against the background of what appears to be illustration straight out of a children’s book, Mansbach weaves a narrative about a parent whose only wish is a few hours of peace and quiet, after, of course, his child has gone the fuck to sleep.  Sleep.  It’s the bane of every parent’s existence, especially those of us who have twins.  We live and die by the naps.  My girls are almost five, and as I write this review I have just gotten home from a short drive designed for them to catch a small nap (as to end the agony of fighting and whining that has comprised most of my day).  It never ends, and in 32 pages, Adam Mansbach summarizes the last five years of my life.

But this book is more than a gimmick.  Yes, it has a flashy cover and a shocking title, but it’s also well written.  There’s an actual narrative arc to this story.  And there’s rhythm and meter, which any poet can appreciate.    What’s so brilliant about Mansbach’s book is that he manages to juxtapose the beautifully tranquil with the harsh realism of parenting:

All the kids from daycare are in dreamland,

The froggy has made his last leap,

Hell no, you can’t go to the bathroom.

You know where you can go?  The fuck to sleep.

Go the Fuck to Sleep carries in its pages a subtext:  it gets better. Sure, I have always loved my twin daughters.  But I love them so much more now that they are five and they actually sleep, dress themselves, brush their own teeth, and don’t wear diapers.  It does get better.  After reading this book, I don’t feel ashamed for having hated on my kids.   I feel understood, justified, not alone.  Do yourself a favor:  buy this book for any new parents you know.  And while you’re at it, buy one for yourself and read it ninety-seven times.   You will still giggle with recognition as you flip through the pages.

~Amye Archer has an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University.   Her first chapbook, No One Ever Looks Up was published by Pudding House Press in 2007.  Her second chapbook, A Shotgun Life, is forthcoming from Big Table Publishing.   She currently teaches people stuff, and is the Reviews Editor for [PANK].  You can read her blog, The Fat Girl Skinny, at amyearcher.com~

  • Ally

    Awesome, Amye. And you describe the joys and frustrations of a parent (or step-parent…) with pitch perfect precision. Well done.

  • Bobbi Button

    My kids are stepping into adulthood and you still make me want to read this!

  • Amye, I loved this. Such honesty. And a damn good review.

  • Thanks guys. I’m always willing to risk a little visit from Child Protective Services for the sake of a good book review.

  • this youtube video of Samuel L. Jackson reading the book may add an even deeper richness to your life.


  • Molly, I know. It’s Pulp Fiction meets children’s lit. Love it.

  • What’s awesome is that you quoted my favorite segment. I’ve read this book eleventy-million times, and I STILL laugh at that page.

    And agreed — Samuel L. Jackson? Hell yes. Perfect fit.

    BTW, for anyone who may be interested in a preview, the full audio version is up for free at Audible right now. Snagged that in a hurry.