Mothers Don’t by Katixa Aguirre

Mothers Don’t go by Katixa Agirre

Basque fiction

Original tite – Amek ez dute

Translator Kristin Addis

Source – personal copy

I picked the other book from 3 times rebel press as one of my books of the year. So I knew this book would be another one I would connect with. Enjoy, but this is a thought-provoking novel tinged with sadness. It is the first book to be translated by the writer Katixa Aguirre. This book had already been translated from the translated Spanish edition. But Katxoia Agirre, as she says in the afterword, is a writer like many from the Basque region who can write in Spanish or in Basque. She chose her native tongue and, like many of the other writers I have read from the Basque region. It is a distinct voice.


On a Thursday afternoon.

That day, the nanny walked through the gates of the house in Armentia as if she were opening the doors to hell: cheeks red and reluctantly. As usual, she felt that her time off, four hours on Thursday afternoons, had gone by quickly, too quickly. The girl’s name was Mélanie, and she had been in Gasteiz for nine months, learning Spanish and trying to decide what her next step in life should be. She locked her bike in the back garden, tried to brush the mud off her sandals, and entered the house uneasily. She didn’t hear a sound. She peeked cautiously into the kitchen, the living room, and the room that the lady of the house used as a studio. She was thinking about the boy she had met that day, who had invited her on a bike ride through Salburua Park.

He wasn’t too bad.

The opening lines

The book is a tale of two mothers and has one of those points that is the start of how the two stories in the book interconnect, and that is that our narrator, a writer and Journalist, knew a woman who had killed her twins at ten months old. What draws her in is two-fold she is a new mother herself, and the woman that has killed her children is someone she had crossed paths with many years earlier when the woman, then known as Jade, had been at university at the same time. We see our narrator try and undo what the woman, now calling herself Alices, had done this act had brought to kill the twins and why. Visiting the scene where she killed her twins. Then she finds her friends and tries to piece together events whilst her trial continues. We never get that definitive answer. It is like going into a labyrinth of a mind about why she did the act she did with its twists and turns; the truth and reality are lost.

Lindy Chamberlain’s case was real, nor that it was (and still is) one of the most famous darker cases in Australia’s legal history. However, it clearly left its mark on me as I can still remember it today, and since the word dingo, which sounds cheerful enough on its own, still haunts my dreams.

The famous dingo case is mentioned a woman convicted tehn released of the murder of her daughter.

This is a hard-hitting book. As they say in the blurb, 3times rebels are bringing solid female voices from minority languages. This is no exception. This is a harrowing tale of one woman’s quest to find out why someone she met had done such a hideous act and what had driven her to that act of killing her twins. It also looks at what makes women do this and how the law has dealt with this as a crime in the past and present. The book pivots on that meeting years ago between Jade and our narrator, that is the starting point, and we follow paths similar in a way having children with a year of each other but then different outcomes. But then it is also worth noting the time she spends looking at Jade/Alice away from her child!! Few book deal with this infrequent but sad crime of infanticide. The only other book I can think of is  Beside the sea. Where the narrative is told by the woman who killed her children. In that book, the reasons and why are blurred. It is hard to capture the way in these events as it must be a point of sheer psychosis where they have no absolute control over the events for that moment. So there is no answer, just the facts of that event; like the embers of a fire, you have to rebuild the fire in your mind, which is different in every sense. The hard-hitting book lifts the lid on the taboo subject of infanticide and drags it into the light. This book looks at a horrific event like a writer like Melchor and female Latin American writers do is what I was more mind there has been mention of English writers like Spark, but I’ve not read enough of her to compare the two. Have you read this book?

Winstons score – +A stark two paths cross; years later, two babies die, one is born, and the two paths cross again!

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa Hill
    Feb 08, 2023 @ 22:37:00

    I don’t think I would like this, but that’s because I really don’t like reading about this kind of thing at all. I know that women do kill their babies sometimes, there have been some high profile real-life cases here in Australia, and reading about them is quite enough for me.


  2. kimbofo
    Feb 09, 2023 @ 23:28:26

    As I was reading your review I was thinking, oh, this sounds reminiscent of Beside the Sea, which you then go on to mention! I must say it sounds dark… and I’d have to be in the right frame to read it, but I’ll add this to my wish list. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.


  3. kimbofo
    Feb 12, 2023 @ 03:30:09

    Guess what… I ended up buying this and reading it yesterday. Here’s my review:


  4. Trackback: Stu’s February Journey | Winstonsdad's Blog

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February 2023


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