Kim Brooks left her four-year-old son alone in the car in a Target parking lot for five minutes, and you probably think she’s a bad parent. You’re not alone. When she first wrote about her experience (and the two-year legal ordeal that followed) for Salon.com a few years ago, she received an onslaught of public comments from internet users eager to tear her apart for being a horrible mother. Her response, Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear, is a thought-provoking masterpiece that asks readers to reflect on a variety of parenting questions. Where are the spaces for children to be children? Why are mothers held to different (and always higher) standards than fathers? What role do race and economics play in our enforcement of neglect laws? And, perhaps most importantly, what is the psychological impact of our ever-vigilant parenting? Even if you disagree with the starting point, Small Animals is a fascinating read.