Mamas are not mamas without their babies (or the desire for one). Regardless of where we fit in the maternal continuum, here is some Essential Reading honoring this month’s theme: Desiring Motherhood.
Download the list here and take it to your favorite mama-friendly bookstore or library!
Caroline Grant, Senior Editor and Columnist writes, “I recommend the anthology Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood, and Abortion edited by Karen E. Bender and Nina de Gramont, a moving collection of essays that covers a wide range of the decisions involved in becoming a mother. Contributors include Catherine Newman, Francine Prose, Pam Houston and Ann Hood, but my favorite piece is by our own columnist Susan Ito; her essay, “If,” traces the complicated paths she and her own mother took toward mothering. It makes me cry every time.”
Ezine Co-Editor, Merle Huerta shares, “As her only daughter Paula lies dying in a coma, Isabel Allende begins telling her the story of their own family, of her legacy “so she won’t be lonely.” But in Allende’s mystical and compelling narrative and lyrical style of storytelling, she weaves the tales of countless family members into a magical family tapestry. It becomes apparent, reading Paula, that the story is for Allende’s sake and not for Paula’s. Allende needs to write this rich and tightly woven tale for her own survival. It’s as she’s securing her own spot in history as a mother who had a child, as a mother who loved a child. Allende’s Paula brought me to tears and made me realize the common thread motherhood bestows to anyone who’s given birth to a child, to anyone who’s lost a child.”
Reviews Editor and Columnist, Rebecca Kaminsky says “I’m reading Mama, PhD, which is a compelling collection of essays exploring two competing desires: to be a mother and to be an academician. Do these desires have to be at odds? Is the world of academia living up to standards of equality in scholarship only and not in the less lofty world of everyday employment? Read and find out.”
Amy S. Mercer, Blog Editor, adds “Elizabeth McCracken has written a memoir about losing a child called An Exact Replica of A Figment Of My Imagination . The New York Times Book Review notes ‘If a book’s merits were measured in subway stops accidentally bypassed while being read, the novelist Elizabeth McCracken’s memoir about having a stillborn baby would rank high.’ We learn from the very beginning of the story that this is a book about loss and the struggle to move forward, to grieve for the child that is lost and to hope for motherhood again.
McCracken talks of the language of motherhood, ‘When I was pregnant both times and people referred to me and Edward as the three of you or me as the two of you, it always felt wrong. Three of us was the goal, and eventually the mostly forgone conclusion both times. But any photograph would clearly show: there were still only two of us. For the rest of my life, I think, plurals will confuse me. How many children do I have? How many are there of me?'”
Kristina Riggle, Fiction Co-Editor, offers Love Always, by Ann Beattie. “This story features Lucy, who is forced by tragic circumstance to step in as a parent of her adolescent niece, who just happens to be a soap opera star. Lucy has been grappling with her own notions of romantic love, and she finds that everything changes when she must step into the mother role, ready or not. This book is satire of a certain kind of upper-crust community, but Lucy’s interactions with her niece are poignant.”