rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received this book for review from W.W. Norton. Thank you, I’m glad to have had a chance to read it.
My biggest problem with this book is that it wasn’t what I expected it to be. I’m not sure it is fair to hold that against it.
On the other hand, I had a hard time figuring out what the book WAS supposed to be. I liked most of the parts. It was combining them into a whole that didn’t always work for me.
I was expecting a homey, somewhat funny memoir– stories of the author’s life, with some reflections on deeper meaning.
What I read was a series of loosely related essays, braiding thoughts on feminism, references to research, and homey stories of her life. I never did find the “witty” referred to in the book blurb.
There were sections on trying to define what feminism is, on childbirth and our approaches to it, on how women relate to the term “feminist”, and on the role of feminism in motherhood. There is a lot of discussion of the value (to society and the individuals) of the decision about staying home or going to work when you have a small child.
Woven into these are stories of her mother, her relatives, and their Italian culture. There are tales of the impact of growing up with a mentally handicapped brother. She also tells about the some of the decisions she and her husband made about bringing up their child.
All of these sections were, for the most part, well written. Several of them left me with questions for the author. Some make me bristle, and want to argue. A few left me saying Yes! She gets it!
That’s not a bad outcome for reading this book.
In the end, it is a fairly low 4 stars. My brain says to give it 4, but part of me resists. My brain wins this round.