Cinderella Ate My Daughter was an entertaining read, but it’s not really a “stick to your ribs” type of nonfiction. Orenstein is a journalist and she...moreCinderella Ate My Daughter was an entertaining read, but it’s not really a “stick to your ribs” type of nonfiction. Orenstein is a journalist and she writes like one. I generally find that journalists write very accessible and entertaining books that cover a wide shallow pond instead of a deep well. Although I often enjoy that sort of cherry picked light analysis for topics I am just fleetingly interested in, I found it deeply unsatisfying for her subject material. I am concerned about this topic as a new mother of a daughter and disappointed I came away from this book without any worthwhile conclusions.
If I had read this book before having my daughter, I probably would have really liked it and been forgiving. However, now that I have a daughter and worry about what her childhood will be like and what kind of adult she will grow into, I found this book to be disappointing. It may be more my misplaced expectations for anticipating at least a little bit of “how to” advice than any failure on Orenstein’s part but the disappointment lingers. I guess the presentation and title of it don’t explicitly say that it set out to be a parenting guide. But the publicity for this book (I heard and read multiple interviews that positioned it as a guide more than narrative) and Orenstein’s past forays into the topic of raising girls led me to believe that it would be more substantive. I’m not exactly thrilled to learn that there are no easy answers to the issues she discusses in this book.
I read this book (and started writing this review) when my daughter was still in the larval stage. Now she’s almost 2 and showing no real inclination towards anything “girly”. She probably wears more pink and sparkles than I’d like because they’re so prevalent and (ok, I’ll admit it) cute, but she likes her cars and trucks as much as her stuffed animals, has no use for dolls, has never seen a Disney movie (although she does watch other tv) and was decidedly ambivalent about the tutu her aunt bought for her. I know that she is still young and mother-daughter struggles over what is appropriate are probably lying in wait in the bushes further down the parenting path, but I am relieved that so far it’s a non-issue for me. I will continue to quietly donate and return Barbies and Disney Princess items that are given to her while I still have the luxury of it not being a fight. (less)
I've never felt particularly neurotic towards breasts until I read this book. I'm abandoning it about half way through because it's convincing me that...moreI've never felt particularly neurotic towards breasts until I read this book. I'm abandoning it about half way through because it's convincing me that I and everyone I know with breasts will get breast cancer. (Including my daughter who is going to be doubly cursed with cancer AND growing them at age 5). I can't remember another book that has given me so much anxiety. Reading "Lord of the Flies" on a deserted island with three reform middle schools worth of unchaperoned boys wearing rival gang colors would be more relaxing. I don't even know how much I buy all her doom and gloom predictions since one of her big sources is a researcher with the Environmental Working Group and I'm pretty sure most of their conclusions are not based in sound silence but I just can't take anymore of it.(less)
As I write my review for this novel a month or so after I finished it, I’m rather surprised I managed to finish it. I’ve been suffering from an acute...moreAs I write my review for this novel a month or so after I finished it, I’m rather surprised I managed to finish it. I’ve been suffering from an acute reading slump this year and have started more books than I’ve finished, very outside my norm. My ability to power through a book I’m not absolutely engrossed in seems to be waning this winter so it’s a bit of an anomaly that I was able to finish this slow moving novel about the plights of modern upper middle class urban motherhood. I didn’t connect particularly to any of the characters and the story itself was not one I relate to outside of also being a mother. I think what made me stick with it was that despite a bit of a dud for a story, Wolitzer’s obvious talent shines through and some passages are so mesmerizingly poignant it almost made up for the plodding pace and relatively unlikable characters. Almost…(less)
I picked up this book while I got several other books about vaccines from the library (thanks, Dewey Decimal System!). The title looked interesting (i...moreI picked up this book while I got several other books about vaccines from the library (thanks, Dewey Decimal System!). The title looked interesting (i.e. has the word “abortion” in it) so I grabbed it, a rare occurrence as I normally reserve most of my library picks beforehand. I love it when I grab a book on a whim and it ends up being good and Dangerous Pregnancies fits that bill. Reagan is a historian whose research in this topic was inspired by her own miscarriage. She’s also the author of another book about abortion, so she definitely knows her stuff. Dangerous Pregnancies is quite academic, but also very readable. There are parts where it seems every sentence must add a new, novel thesis statement to the book, but it’s also easy to skim over those bits. The title is not entirely accurate (nothing out of the ordinary for more academicky works); although Reagan mentions the spat of thalidomide associated birth defects, the book overwhelmingly deals with rubella’s social meanings, especially as it related to the abortion debate. When I started this book, my knowledge of Rubella was basically that the disease is also called German measles and that it is the “R” in the often maligned MMR vaccine. Reagan’s thorough research was a fascinating and enlightening look into rubella in twentieth century America.
Rubella (“German measles” being perhaps the most popular among its many monikers) is a relatively unique disease to earn a place among the childhood vaccines. It is not deadly or even necessarily uncomfortable for those infected with it. In fact, the typical cold sounds more irritating. However, rubella is a public health concern not for its severity but because if a woman contracts German measles while pregnant (especially early in the pregnancy) the disease has devastating effects on the fetus, causing miscarriage, blindness, deafness, heart defects and mental disabilities. Once the rubella-birth defects connection was discovered, contracting rubella during pregnancy became one of expectant mothers’ greatest fears. Many women who contracted German measles made the decision to seek a therapeutic abortion to end their pregnancies and were confronted with the labyrinthine abortion review boards at hospitals in the days before Roe vs. Wade. Access to these abortions hinged largely on the woman’s class, color and connections and not all women who desired abortions were able to obtain them and later gave birth to severely disabled children in a country with essentially no social or educational infrastructure to meet their children’s special needs. As the demand to decriminalize and later legalize abortion gathered steam, “rubella mothers” were often used as an example of virtuous mothers who needed abortions for the sake of their families.
I loved her coverage of how rubella affected the abortion debate in the 1960s. I find it so fascinating and almost unbelievable how abortion was portrayed as a necessary tool that should be available for responsible parents to utilize. I also can’t get over quotes by organizations like churches and chambers of commerce in support of abortion. As someone who came into political consciousness in the early 2000s, I can’t comprehend a time when discussions of abortion were free of descriptions like “murderer” and extreme anti-choice sentiments were mainly confined to segments of the Catholic Church.
How quickly our cultural memory evaporates; several decades from Roe v Wade can obliterate any memory of the women who died gruesome deaths and families destroyed from illegal abortion attempts and children lost to vaccine preventable diseases several generations ago are so easily forgotten as the anti-vaccine movement gains steam in the affluent West. Human progress is truly one step forward, two steps back. I wonder if we will experience a resurgence of congenital rubella cases in the next few decades the recent spat of unvaccinated children grow to childbearing age.
I normally don’t buy a lot of novelty type books like this but I love to get them as presents and was thrilled to win a copy from the Goodreads First...moreI normally don’t buy a lot of novelty type books like this but I love to get them as presents and was thrilled to win a copy from the Goodreads First Reads program. I had never heard of the blog that spawned this collection of humorous texts from parents and grandparents, but it is in the same genre of other humor blogs out there today with short reader submitted entries (think Shit My Kids Ruined, Lamebook, White Whine, that one about auto corrections everyone but me seems to love, etc.). The main difference between When Parents Text and the other blogs I’ve mentioned is that WPT is good humored at its very core, a rarity in internet world where anonymous bloggers often post scathing commentary about the people they’re lampooning. The underlying theme of WPT is that although parents can be nosey, annoying, and frustratingly technologically inept, they are still parents and share a deep love with their children, albeit a poorly expressed deep love through the texts compiled in this book.
The texts themselves were all funny and some were downright hilarious. I feel so happy that not one but two WPT fathers managed to mention using egg salad to cover up fart stench. At 27, I’m probably on the upper stretch of people with personal experience of parents texting them and too young to be texting my kids embarrassing attempts at emoticons. Some of my friends with cooler parents and more money than mine have texting parents, but my parents had a rotary phone until 1996, no internet at home, and the only text message exchanges they have ever participated are the racy pictures and chain texts my dad receives thanks to his recycled phone number. So the point is I have and probably never will have any personal experience with my parents sending me weirdly hilarious texts but I still enjoyed this light-hearted look at parent-child relations in the digital age. It would be a cute gift to a texting parent of a high school or college age kid. (less)
Who am I kidding, I'm never going to finish this book. Fat Face is sleeping better on her own as she approaches a year and as my unplanned unemploymen...moreWho am I kidding, I'm never going to finish this book. Fat Face is sleeping better on her own as she approaches a year and as my unplanned unemployment is seemingly never ending, I dgaf if I am a slave to my infant's idiotic sleep patterns. (less)