O’Connell’s account of her transformation into a first-time mother and, consequently, a better feminist is an honest and intimate addition to the new mother literary genre, written with endearing intimacy, big laughs, and tremendous heart. She dares to ask, “What if, instead of worrying about scaring pregnant women, people told them the truth? What if pregnant women were treated like thinking adults? What if everyone worried less about giving women a bad impression of motherhood?”
Motherhood and middle age, so often intertwined for women, create the most complex of invisibility cloaks. In the perception of many, they often serve to erase competency, intelligence, sexuality, and desirability even as they lead to heightened societal judgment on parenting, working, and spousing. …Harrington is not shy about breaking down the bullshit. She delights in the perfectly punctuated profanity, yet another way to flout old-fashioned ideas about what women should sound like and what words belong in our mouths.
In 2009, a week after Gayle Brandeis gave birth to her third child, a son, her mother Arlene hanged herself. The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother’s Suicide is a compelling and suspenseful read, a medical mystery, a family drama. Brandeis recounts her mother’s final week, reexamines their complicated relationship throughout her life, and questions: What drove her mother to take her own life?
Memoir requires such brutal honesty, the willingness of an author to bare herself before the unknown reader, to pick the scab from a wound that has failed to heal properly no matter how long ago it occurred. “Starting With Goodbye” succeeds in this respect. Romeo spares no one, including herself, acknowledging how spoiled she was as a child, how petulant she could be during her father’s last months.
In a book full of technical drawings and multiform observation on fatherhood, there is silence in the way of advice. The reader will find clever instruction on folding a ten-foot piece of paper into a two-and-a-half-foot tall owl, but nothing close to even a here’s-what-worked-for-me speech and accompanying handshake.
Renee Macalino Rutledge is a long-time journalist from the San Francisco area whose articles and essays have appeared in a variety of publications, including ColorLines, Filipinas Magazine, and Ford City Anthology. Her debut novel, , employs a Filipino folktale of …
We publish reviews that explore literary work—fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry—about any form of motherhood. This includes both newly-released work and older books that we consider to be important to the genre. Read more here.