“Some people are meant to be mothers, and some people are meant to be free,” writes Missy Alamo in the early pages of The Spectacular, a new book by Zoe Whittall (The Best Kind of People).
It’s 1997 and Missy is a 22-year old indie rock star who, prior to embarking on a tour with her band, is searching for a doctor who will perform a tubal litigation. She wants to have all the sex she wants on tour without the threat of an unexpected pregnancy. (No doctor will perform the surgery, citing Missy’s young age and the possibility that she’ll change her mind.)
Missy’s distaste for the idea of childbearing is closely related to the strained relationship with her mother, Carola. Interviewed by a music publication about her band’s hit single “Not Looking for You Anymore,” Missy notes that the song is “about her mother, who abandoned the family.” We learn that when Missy was a child, Carola left her daughter, her husband and the commune they lived on to run away to a yoga center in New Hampshire.
Carola, the book’s second narrator, is enmeshed in a sex scandal involving the yoga center’s guru when she comes across the interview and is forced to confront the mistakes she’s made as a mother, which Missy describes as such: “My mother’s only terrible disease was maternal indifference, and that was something I knew I’d inherited.”