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Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink

My first book, Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink (Seal Press/Perseus Books) was published in September 2013. It is now available for purchase!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Books-a-Million | Powells

A brave, entertaining, dark, often funny, unbelievably timely, conversation-sparking tale about women and work.

Watch the book trailer (2 min.)

About the Book

At 37, Katrina Alcorn had it all: a loving husband, healthy kids, and a dream job. Then one day, she lost her ability to manage the stress of competing demands. Just like that, her carefully built career shuddered to a halt, and a year-long recovery from depression and anxiety began. Over the months, Alcorn started talking to other working moms and was shocked to learn that many of them, too, were maxed out—sick with stress, and blaming themselves.

Mothers are breadwinners in two-thirds of American families, yet as Alcorn explains, the American workplace is uniquely hostile to the needs of parents. Weaving in surprising research about the dysfunction between work and home, as well as the consequences to women’s health, Alcorn tells a deeply personal story about “having it all,” failing miserably, and what comes after. Ultimately, she offers readers a vision for a healthier, happier, and more productive way to work and live.

Maxed Out won a Foreword “IndieFab” award for best books of 2013.

Who’s it for?

This is book for anyone who…

  • Has ever tried to pump breast milk while editing a business presentation.
  • Knows there is a razor-thin margin between “everything’s fine” and total collapse.
  • Wonders what that collapse might look like.
  • Feels profoundly, inexplicably alone in shouldering the triple burden of work, school/daycare, and family.
  • Fears she has hit the glass ceiling, or worse, that the ceiling is studded with sharp rusty nails.
  • Wonders if ticking off the maximum number of to-do list items is really the apex of human achievement.
  • Suspects there is a better way to live.

What people are saying

MAXED OUT was selected by as an August Pick for Parents, by Barnes & Noble as a Modern Mom Must-Read, and by as a Must Read for Moms. MAXED OUT is currently a finalist for Forward’s 2013 Book of the Year Award in women’s studies.

“Alcorn’s moving account is pertinent for American women and men who are trying to chase their own version of the American dream, and she offers helpful suggestions and techniques to combat the inevitable stress encountered along the way. An eye-opening, expressive narrative on an often hidden but common problem in American society.”
Kirkus Reviews

“…the book is a brave admission that we are not all successfully managing our overbooked lives, and should not feel alone. On the whole, the book provides a powerful reminder that even well-to-do mothers do not thrive in our current system, that having a positive attitude, leaning in, or opting out aren’t viable choices for many women, and that other countries (such as Denmark and Sweden) serve working mothers more effectively.”
Publishers Weekly

“…her plight will resonate with anyone who’s ever struggled to manage both work and family life. Interspersed among her personal stories are reported essays arguing that—regardless of the ongoing debate about “opting out” or “leaning in”—for many American moms, there are just no good choices, period.” More>
—Parade Magazine
(The editors selected MAXED OUT as one of four August Picks for Parents)

“This book is bold, brave, and personal. Katrina takes readers through her emotional collapse one day at Target, and on to her ultimate healing and recovery. This is a compelling read for those struggling to balance parenting, marriage, and work, offering helpful suggestions and techniques, as well as hope.”
Whitney Collins, Barnes & Noble (MAXED OUT was selected as a “Modern Mom Must-Read”)

“Every once in awhile you pick up a book that just grabs you by the scruff of your neck and commands your undivided attention. [Maxed Out] was just that kind of book for me…”
—Sarah Welch,

“Katrina Alcorn’s Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink is the compulsively readable memoir by a Bay Area tech worker and mother driven to the brink of insanity – for reals! – by the impossibility of life/work balance…”
Michelle Tea,  MUTHA Magazine

“…once I started reading, I couldn’t put the book down. Maxed Out is elegantly written and beautifully structured, with a logical, almost inevitable narrative…”
Katherine Lewis, Working Moms

“This book is a fascinating look at what drives the average American mom and why we sometimes are our own worst enemy.”
Beth Colvin, The Advocate

“…I could not stop reading even though it had become the deep, dark of night…[Alcorn’s] story is riveting, and it is one that will resonate with any mother, or woman thinking of becoming a mother, whether she works outside the home or not…”
—Maureen Langloss, Project Eve

“… a smartly written and candid memoir of “maxing out” in the workplace…”
—Helen Racanelli, Canadian Living

“This is important, even essential, food for thought. We have to stop and take stock of our lives. We have to make sure that if it all ended tomorrow, we would feel right about the way we spent our time. That’s the conversation this book wants to start.”
—Kelly CorriganNew York Times bestselling author of The Middle Place and LIFT

“Alcorn tells a gripping story of how the demands of work and parenting sent her over the edge. She brilliantly connects her experience with key changes we must make to end the insanity and make work fit our lives.”
—Joan Blades—Co-founder of and

“This is a deeply important story told by a highly gifted writer. So many working mothers are living in “emotional debt” these days that this book is bound to strike a chord.”
Arlie Hochschild—prize-winning author of The Second Shift and The Time Bind

“Katrina Alcorn wrote the book that desperately needed to be written. In Maxed Out, Alcorn goes where most memoirs don’t, recounting the terror-inducing triple play of work, marriage and motherhood which give rise to extreme depression and anxiety. From her darkest days to her recovery, Alcorn tells an awfully compelling story, giving us insight into a world where most fear to tread, and inspiring us to rethink how we spend one of our most precious resources: our time.”
Robert Wilder—author of Daddy Needs a Drink

Order now at Amazon | Barnes & Noble  | Indiebound  |  Books-a-Million  |  Powells

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Catherine McCall

HI, Katrina,
I haven’t read your book yet, but I LOVE the title and I LOVE your trailer, and tweeted it. Thank you for your contribution to such an important topic – and to the sanity of moms. And best wishes for you and your book.



Hi there! I realize this is sort of off-topic however I needed to ask.
Does operating a well-established blog such as yours take a massive amount work?
I am completely new to blogging however I do write in
my diary daily. I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my personal experience and views
online. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or tips for new
aspiring blog owners. Thankyou!



I haven’t read your book, but I think I need to. I’m very curious about this utopian “vision for a healthier, happier, and more productive way to work and live.” I’m curious to know if a month of paid leave or other family benefits, throwing chips to the working parents, really is going to create the utopia the author is advocating.



I guess you’ll have to read the book and decide for yourself. 😉



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