Monday, August 1, 2011

“Go The F**k to Sleep" is brilliantly funny, sad, and also a little boring

Anyone who hasn’t encountered the insanely funny, bestselling mock-children’s book “Go The F**k to Sleep” by Adam Mansbach must be hibernating. Movie rights have been sold, big-name audio versions released, and the buzz keeps on growing.

Because I write about kids' sleep issues, quite a few people have asked me what I think about the book. The answer? I’m on the fence.

On one hand, the book is pitch-perfect and side-splittingly funny. It hits the nail on the head. I find the illustrations by Ricardo Cortés particularly apt.

(Sidenote: I do find it interesting that in mid-2011, we’re still so shocked and titillated by the F-word. In a children’s book! Gracious, me! If you take away the F-word, the book is still clever, but it loses a great deal of its shock value. “Go the Fudge to Sleep” doesn’t have quite the same ring, does it?)

I’m not shocked by the book (not even by the F-word. Get this—I’ve heard it before!) I don’t think the book’s tone skims uncomfortably close to child abuse, like the author of this CNN op-ed. I get the joke. The book resonates with me, and with other parents, because the feelings it parodies are so universal.

When I read the book, I respond primarily to its humor. It’s meant to be funny, and it is.

But after my funny bone has been tickled, I’m left feeling…sad.

Sad, because the frustration that the book captures so well is something I recognize vividly in parents I’ve advised about their kids’ sleep problems. Although the book is funny, the situation it illustrates is not. Many, many parents are in that horrible place. The place where their kids just won’t sleep and they haven’t a clue what to do next.

These people have had their lives ruined by sleep deprivation. Their marriages and jobs suffer. They don’t enjoy parenting, and their kids know it. It’s an incredibly rotten situation that far too many good parents find themselves in.

It’s great to laugh at a crappy situation, but after you’re done laughing, the crappy situation is still there.

So there you have it. For me, the book is bizarrely funny and achingly sad. When I read “Go the F**k to Sleep,” I think of all of the good, conscientious, caring parents I know who want—need—their kids to sleep, who are slowly having the life sucked out of them, night by sleepless night. And that makes it hard for me to enjoy the book, however hilarious and insightful it may be.

While hearing the title repeated endlessly has given me the tiniest bit of F-word fatigue—who would have guessed that the F-word could actually get boring?—it's still darn funny. If you need a good laugh about the often-unfunny topic that is children's sleep, pick it up. I can near-guarantee that you’ll crack a smile, if you don’t crack up. And, when you’re ready to help your child sleep, please check out my new e-book on the topic: “Ready, Set, Sleep: 50 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep, So You Can Sleep Too.” You’ll be glad you did.

(P.S. Is anyone else super-curious about what Fox 2000 is going to do with the movie rights to the book? Should be interesting!)


beckoning balance said...

someone had posted a link on FB of samuel jackson reading it and i have to say . . . FUNNY. i do think the humor might have been lost on me if i'd only read it.

Malia said...

I think so too! I just find the illustrations so funny...they're so old-timey and "storybook." Perfect. :)