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It's a Boy: Women Writers on Raising Sons

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  268 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
The most popular question any pregnant woman is asked — aside from "When are you due?" — has got to be "Are you having a girl or a boy?" When author Andrea Buchanan, already a mom to a little girl, was pregnant with her second child, she marveled at the response of friends and total strangers alike: "Boys are wonderful," "Boys are so much better than girls," "Boys love the ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published November 11th 2005 by Seal Press (first published October 21st 2005)
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Oct 22, 2012 Molly rated it liked it
Shelves: parenthood
I bought this book days after the ultrasound. I have a near-two-year-old daughter; I was convinced this second would be a girl too. (And, in all fairness, I was convinced with Maya that she would be a boy, so much so that I balked at the announcement, asking the tech to check again, so it turns out my motherly intuition is completely out of whack, and I've had to make peace with that.) I was ready for a boy then, but somehow, after twenty-two months of re-analyzing my feminist attitudes, I'm goi ...more
Dec 06, 2009 Erin rated it really liked it
Shelves: children
It's A Boy is a series of short essays by female authors (including Jodi Picoult and Jacquelyn Mitchard) on various aspects of being a woman and raising a boy. I found them, by and large, to be thoughtful, poignant and relatable. There were certain topics that didn't really pertain to me (having a boy after having a girl; dealing with a teenage boy) and others that really resonated with me (worrying about how to best raise a boy; watching your boy develop a definite preference for trucks and mas ...more
Jan 10, 2011 Kerri rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoir
Really disappointing collection of essays by mostly ultra-modern feminist types. I pushed through the fact that I could not identify with One Thing in all the pregnancy-to-toddler essays, (as a mother of FOUR boys I was incredulous) hoping that there might be some bits of wisdom or at least humor in the older boy sections. No. Mostly vulgar comparisons to teenage boys in the mother's past or otherwise disdaining of their growing man. So sad I wasted my time.
May 08, 2008 Kate rated it really liked it
I read "It's a Girl" after Louisa was born and enjoyed that a lot, so this was required reading after Thomas was born. Once again, I really enjoyed it. I found a common experience within these pages about raising these little alien beings. And that is so very comforting! While I'd love to say that gender doesn't matter, it is a scary thing to me to raise something that I am not. Girls I know. Boys?! Eeek! Who knew that this fear is so common among mothers?! Comforting, indeed.
Oct 01, 2008 Jenny rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: mothers of boys
Shelves: favorites
If you are a mother of a son of any age you have to read this collection of essays. I read it just after my son was born and it gave me such a glimpse of what might be down the road for us. I checked it out of the library, after reading a review of it in Brain, Child Magazine. I liked it so much I bought it. I expect I'll get more out of it as my son gets older.
Sep 18, 2013 Nicole rated it really liked it
In July I wasn't sure I was ready for this. I may still not be ready for it, but at least I have some expectations.
Sep 08, 2013 Devon rated it liked it
Read July 2008

I really enjoyed this collection of essays on raising sons. I have three of them myself and was very excited to get my hands on this book that tells the tales of mothers and their challenges and joys when raising their sons from conception to the dreaded teenage years. There were obviously some essays that I enjoyed more than others such as Susan Ito's "Samuel" about a woman and the son she never had. "Things You Can't Teach" by Katie Kaput a transgender woman trying to raise a son
May 22, 2015 Kim rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful collection of essays. As I read through the essays, I found myself nodding along, smiling, and reflecting upon my own experience as the mother of two boys. From the initial shock of "What do I DO with a boy?" when I found out my first was a boy, to the disappointment of not having the opportunity to raise a girl, to the joy of discovering the special bond (it's true, it exists) between mother and son, to the changes that occur as your boy moves toward adolescence, I found my own ...more
Apr 25, 2009 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: motherhood
Like many books about the experience of motherhood, this is a compilation of different mothers talking about their experiences. In this case, the common thread is the challenges and joys of raising boys. (There is a "girl" version of the book as well). The essays range from mother's discussing their disappointments on finding out they were having a son instead of a daughter to the advantages of raising a son versus raising a daughter. The mothers are at all different points in their motherhood - ...more
Feb 16, 2009 Jamie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs, parenting
This was a great little collection of essays about mothering boys. It left me with an awareness of just how short babyhood is, and now that I've been done with it for a few hours, it is making me appreciate the physicality of my relationship with Max all the more. He won't always need me so intimately, and the way we are together will have so many stages. I liked that this book helped me to think further about gender roles, about the varying ways "boyness" manifests, and about what it means for ...more
I'm a little better than halfway through this, and I'm waiting to see if the balance will ever shift away from women who are SO FLUMMOXED by having a boy, and then marvel at their boys who act like, well, boys, but are still remarkably gentle and kind. On the whole, I like personal essays, but there's not a lot of diversity of opinion (or even socioeconomic class) represented in this collection, so it seems like the same essays over and over.

To be fair, I may just be grumpy with this book becaus
Jun 30, 2010 Sandee rated it it was ok
The first essays are mothers who really wanted girls or wanted their boys to be less boy-like (or more boy-like). Not much about the raising of sons but more about how their expectations of their children were not met.

The later essays are about boys turning into teenagers which I'm not ready to face yet. I only read the first one, realizing I'd read later essays by same author and know her son-in-transition is now dead after falling in with the wrong crowd and developing a drug problem. Too sad
Mar 06, 2009 Catherine rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up at the thrift store when I was expecting my son. I didn't get around to reading it until some time after he was born, and maybe the new maternal hormones played a role, but I loved this book. The essays are heartwarming, touching, humorous, familiar... all that's needed to turn me into a puddle of sentiment. I hope to reread it again, now that I have a few years of motherhood under my belt, and see if I feel any differently about it. I am sure I will be even more sentimenta ...more
Jan 22, 2008 jess rated it liked it
Shelves: ladyish, 2008
like most anthologies, this was rather hit-or-miss. it's not a how-to guide to raising boys, or very much like a "parenting book." a lot of the stories are irritating in that charming gender-assumptive way. i really appreciated katie kaput's piece on being a queer trans teen momma, and a few of the other pieces were insightful or clever as well. it wasn't a total wash, but it lacked a lot of the critical thinking, feminist perspectives, insights, and commentaries on raising boys that i was hopin ...more
Katy Spiller
Apr 05, 2013 Katy Spiller rated it really liked it
Excellent collection of a number of different mothers' accounts of raising boys. This was a good book that gave me a glimpse of what was to come when I learned that, after growing up with two sisters, I was pregnant with a boy (and now have two). Emotions vary across each account due to the experience recorded. While some are emotionally difficult to read (especially for a new/expecting mother), the book is very real.
Jun 09, 2012 Cassie rated it really liked it
I read this collection of essays at the right time, as I'm in a particularly difficult season parenting my 2.5- and 4-year-old boys. This collection was a good reminder that these years, difficult as they seem, are something to be cherished and will pass by way too quickly. I didn't relate to or even enjoy a few of the essays, but the ones I did love left me highlighting passages and saying, "Yes. Exactly this."
Christine Rains
Jun 19, 2016 Christine Rains rated it liked it
I picked up this collection to read about other women writers raising boys. There wasn't anything about being a writer raising children, but the essays about being mothers of boys were fun and touching even when I didn't connect to some of them. I liked reading about moms raising sons who were very stereotypically boys and others who were not stereotypes. My son loves pink and kittens and the Three Stooges. Thanks for sharing your stories and giving me the warm fuzzies.
Mar 04, 2012 Katrina rated it liked it
Recommended to Katrina by: Uju Anya
I enjoyed most of these short essays about mothering boys. It was a little repetitive, with many of the essays echoing similar themes: I didn't want a boy but now that I have him I love him; I wanted my boy to break gender stereotypes but he's very masculine; or having a teenage boy living with you is like living with something non-human. The few that broke this mold were refreshing, and all were well-written.
Jul 10, 2008 Jenny rated it it was ok
Shelves: essays
I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. It was OK. Not terrible but not great either. Expecting a boy, I was hoping to read a few more stories by women who weren't so very very disappointed to be having a son. But almost every essay name dropped Proust and expressed disappointment over the fact that there was a boy coming instead of a girl.
Nov 25, 2008 Cristyn rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: mothers of sons
This is a nice collection of essays. It's organized by pre-birth to teenager. The section on pregnancy is a little long and I would suggest skipping some of the essays. Most of the writers in that section seem pretty neurotic.

It's a great book to have around when you only have 10 minutes at a time to read.
Jan 29, 2008 Sasha rated it it was ok
This book was okay. Some of the stories were cute but lacked overarching themes. Most of the authors were of the same socioeconomic and cultural background and their writing lacked self-awareness. Are women really that silly about "the other sex"? If anything, this book reminded me to enjoy everyday with my son and let him be who he will become.
Apr 06, 2008 Heather rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It's a selection of short non-fiction essays written by mothers of boys. I liked the different examples and explorations of what a mother-son relationship looks like. Plus, it's in bite sized pieces so I could read an essay and put the book down for a few weeks without forgetting the plot.
Aug 25, 2008 Aubrey rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting, own
My favorite essay in this book was by Catherine Newman, but there were many touching, funny, thoughtful essays about raising boys - from infancy to adolescence. I read to know I'm not alone on my path, and this book helps with that.

Re-read in 2011 while pregnant with #2. Loved just as much this time.
Kara Wicks
Jan 03, 2016 Kara Wicks rated it liked it
This was a fun book to read. It helped me remember some of my own parenting expectations and encouraged me to enjoy each stage in some way. It was also a great way to explore some modern female authors. There were at least three essays I dog-eared.
Jun 05, 2007 nicebutnubbly rated it it was ok
Some of these essays were nice, but I was ultimately unimpressed. They were more focused on the personal than the political, and the political is what interests me more. Not that the personal isn't political, god knows, but I prefer the connection to be made overtly.
Meghan Anderson
Jan 12, 2011 Meghan Anderson rated it really liked it
Overall I enjoyed the book. I could relate to some of the earlier essays especially and was encouraged by some of the later ones. I especially loved Pretty Boy towards the end and feel better about letting my little man explore his feminine side or not as he sees fit.
Sep 28, 2007 Michelle rated it really liked it
Wonderful book - I truly love reading compilation essays - they're fast reads, even when you swear you have no time to read. This one is very touching. I pick up the book to read over and over as Owen gets older. There is also a similiar book for Raising Daughters.
Feb 20, 2008 Marc rated it liked it
Intersting short essays of women writers on their sons. A number of them seem to have had issues/concerns with having a boy, or came from all-female households. Interesting to see the female perspective.
Mar 10, 2012 Tiffany rated it liked it
A collection of short stories from women authors. Some are inspring, some sentimental, some laugh-out-loud funny, all touching on the issues, anxieties, and joys that come with raising a son. Organized by the age of the boy discussed, from conception to teen years.
Nov 11, 2007 Jess rated it really liked it
i found the stories in this book funny, sad, insightful and most of all, reflective of what it's like to think about raising a boy, and how your ideas and thoughts about parenting adapt and change along with the individual your son is.
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Andrea J. Buchanan is a New York Times bestselling writer whose newest book is the young adult novel GIFT. Her work includes The Daring Book For Girls, Mother Shock, and six other books. Both GIFT and the digital short-story WAKING UP have free, downloadable, playable Minecraft maps based on the stories. Before becoming a writer, Andi was a classical pianist; she studied at the Boston Conservatory ...more
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