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The Fixed Stars

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3.70  ·  Rating details ·  3,114 ratings  ·  538 reviews
From a bestselling memoirist, a thoughtful and provocative story of changing identity, complex sexuality, and enduring family relationships
 
At age 36, while serving on a jury, author Molly Wizenberg found herself drawn to a female attorney she hardly knew. Married to a man for nearly a decade and mother to a toddler, Wizenberg tried to return to her life as she knew it,
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Hardcover, 256 pages
Published August 4th 2020 by Abrams Press
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Average rating 3.70  · 
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 ·  3,114 ratings  ·  538 reviews


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Jessica Woodbury
2.5 stars. There are two questions I always consider first and foremost when reading memoir. The first is whether the writer has enough distance from the thing they are writing about. It is possible to write about a recent time in your life, but it is extremely rare to do it well. (And when you do it well you have to make the recency of it work for you, to make it more visceral, more focused and fine-tuned.) The second is whether the writer has enough to write about at all. This is a trickier qu ...more
Gabby
I just finished the audiobook, and this was a really interesting memoir discussing sexuality and how complicated it can be to really know yourself. In this memoir, the author talks about how she was 36 years old when she discovered she could be attracted to women, and she’s been married for ten years at this point, and has a young daughter. This memoir explores the idea of sexuality and open relationships and how figuring yourself out can be one of the most challenging things. I really enjoyed t ...more
Jenne
Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, nonfiction
You know how when someone you sort of know has a really unexpected breakup, and you desperately want to ask them for all the details but that would be rude?
This book is like if that person showed up on your doorstep with a LARGE bottle of whiskey and proceeded to tell you exactly what went down.
Christine
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars rounded to 5 stars

I rarely read memoirs, but this one called to me. The Fixed Stars is a very frank and absorbing account of Ms. Wizenberg’s painful yet steadfast journey to find herself at the age of 37.

After ten years of marriage to her best friend and father (Brandon) of her only child (June), Molly is awakened by a very unexpected draw towards a lesbian attorney while serving jury duty. Over the next year, Molly and Brandon try valiantly to make things work within new parameters. U
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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Sep 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
I LOVE reading memoirs, and I love listening to them, especially when they are read by the author. I had the best of both worlds because I both read and listened to The Fixed Stars.

Molly Wizenberg shares her story that begins when she’s 36 and serving on a jury. She is attracted to a female attorney. This is a dilemma of sorts because she is married with a small child at home. That moment of attraction is a turning point for Wizenberg, something shifts in her sexual orientation, making her quest
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Scott
Oct 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
"I wonder what she wears when she's not wearing a suit, on the weekends or after work. I wonder what her friends call her. I wonder what she would look like next to me in a photo." -- on page 7

Author Wizenberg was a successful writer (with two bestsellers under her belt), a co-owner - with her chef husband - of a profitable Seattle restaurant, and the mother of a young daughter. So life in her mid-30's was moving along fairly comfortably, if not predictably in a upper middle-class sense, until o
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Tzipora
Really mixed feelings about this one. I think part of the issue may be what another reviewer said- when people write memoir it helps if they’re distanced enough from the time period they’re writing about to really be able to see it clearly and I kept finding that this wasn’t the case for Wizenberg. I also frankly found a few things downright offensive and while it did seem like the author grows from there I was struck by the fact those offensive things were included at all and for all the things ...more
Lauren
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’d have to do some serious math to remember when I started reading Orangette, @molly.wizenberg’s blog, but a dozen years? I definitely read her memoir A Homemade Life while living in Harlem (2009) as I have vivid memories of reading it in my corner laundromat and I remember reading an ARC of Delancey at Sit and Wonder the very month that I got married. This preamble is just to say that I’ve been invested in her storytelling for a while. I was so excited to read her latest memoir which is, in br ...more
CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian
A lovely memoir about a woman who unexpectedly experiences queer desire in her mid thirties after a decade of marriage to a man and a lifetime of believing she was straight. There's a lot in here about the knowability of the self, about balancing motherhood with following your own path, and about marriage (despite the fact that her marriage ends in divorce).

I always love to read about different queer stories, especially women's, that deviate from the "I always knew" category. It's so affirming
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Tess Malone
Aug 11, 2020 rated it liked it
I wanted to love this book as someone who also realized she was queer later in life and as a fan of Orangette. Wizenberg's writing is thoughtful, emotionally honest, and poetic as ever. But though this is billed as a queer memoir, it's really one about divorce that interrogates queerness through a very heteronormative lens. I kept waiting for the queer joy and the expansiveness that coming out can bring, but mostly Wizenberg is mired in the misery of dissolving her marriage and figuring out wher ...more
Rebecca
By contrast with her other two memoirs (especially A Homemade Life, one of my favorite books), this was an uncomfortable read. For one thing, it unpicks the fairy tale of what looked like a pretty ideal marriage and entrepreneurial partnership in Delancey. In the summer of 2015, Wizenberg was summoned for jury duty and found herself fascinated by one of the defense attorneys, a woman named Nora who wore a man’s suit and a butch haircut. The author had always considered herself straight, had neve ...more
Nada Elshabrawy
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I got bored halfway through it but then it got really good.
Libby
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was ok

2,5 stars; I received an ARC of this book from net galley

I read Orangette for years; Molly’s short but tender blog posts,photos shot on strange angles or with odd focus, simple home cooking recipes. It’s one of those things where you don’t know the writer, but you’ve read through a decade of blog archives and double-tapped a bunch of instagram posts and they feel like at least a friend of a friend. So reading this memoir felt a little strange, almost intrusive.

And honestly, not that great. I th
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Larisa
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book really felt like it was written from a defensive posture. I am a queer woman and an academic, and I love Maggie Nelson and Sarah Manguso as much as the next person (actually MUCH MORE but not the point), but it felt like she was quoting from these texts so she could show she'd done her homework. The way she actually talked about other queer people, particularly in sexual contexts, felt alienating. From the book jacket, I thought I would love and relate to parts of this narrative, but I ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
On the one hand, I think Molly's story is very relatable, a woman who after marriage and a child realizes she is attracted to other women and can't just let it go. I think this happens to a lot of people, and it's nice to have a narrative to find resonance in. On the other hand, I did not think the writing was that spectacular (there are some beautifully written moments - all where she is quoting other people like Maggie Nelson or Cheryl Strayed or Alison Bechdel,) the narrator (herself) is impo ...more
Elise Cripe
Aug 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this in a day. I love a good memoir. Molly writes so beautifully.
Jess
Aug 23, 2020 rated it did not like it
If you enjoy Dani Shapiro's memoirs, then this book is for you! I do not, so I am definitely not the target audience. I had no idea that Wizenberg has written two previous memoirs. If I had known that, I likely would not have read this one. That said, I went into this reading experience assuming the book would be interesting since the blurb looked so compelling. I tried to enjoy the book and respect Wizenberg's position. I did not succeed.

Memoir is an inherently self-indulgent form. When done we
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Sheena
Jul 09, 2020 rated it liked it
The Fixed Stars is about a woman struggling with her identity and sexual orientation. She is married and has a child but realizes something in her has changed. I found it hard to connect with the writing, and it was a little boring at times. I felt there were some unnecessary details about her marriage and the restaurant so I did skim towards the middle to the end of it. I probably am not the target audience for this book. 2.5 rating overall.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the advan
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Nursebookie
Aug 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When Molly Wizenberg was 36, she discovered something new about herself - an intense, undeniable desire to love and be loved by another woman after a lifetime of relationships with men. Her marriage of almost ten years crumble as she explores this new discovery of who she really is.

I thought this was a very powerful memoir. The writing was beautiful, poignant, easy to read and extremely thoughtful as she describes her relationships and family life. With honesty, candor and strength she gave it
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Bookphenomena (Micky)
Don’t let that cover confuse you. To me, the cover conjures chick lit or romance, but this is non-fiction, a memoir. This memoir tackled interesting themes – understanding sexual orientation, gender and the potential for people to change in these respects as they grow and age. The author, Molly was in her 30s, married and a mother, when she went from feeling 100% straight to a different position.

This memoir was the unravelling of the status quo of her life and her process of working out who she
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Mehrsa
Sep 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
I was so frustrated and annoyed at the author reading her memoir. At times, it was just too much info and unprocessed thoughts and then at other times, it felt like therapy psychobabble. I left the book thinking that perhaps she should have done some more thinking and therapy before writing a memoir. I felt like I ended the story more confused than when it began.
Raychel
Sep 18, 2020 rated it did not like it
I try to read a wide range of queer experiences. I gravitate towards wlw narratives because that is what I identify with the most, but I really want to be well-rounded. I picked up Molly Wizenberg's memoir and it sounded right up my alley. I haven't read a lot about adults realizing their non-heteroness later in life, so I recognized I needed to fill that gap. Negatively reviewing someone's memoir leaves a bad taste in my mouth but overall, I think this says some really harmful things about poly ...more
Ishmeen
Jan 13, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks
This was the first memoir I have read and it was definitely interesting at parts, but also a bit boring for me at other times. It was still a good read about the challenges of marriage, motherhood and sexuality so I’d give it 3.5 stars 🌟
Rachael
Apr 02, 2020 rated it liked it
You and a friend that you haven’t seen in a while get together to discuss how life has changed since you last saw each other. You listen intently to her story, unable to break from her words. You listen to your friend confess her most personal discretions, confuse her sexual orientation, change her identity, shatter her marriage, challenge the restrictions of love and attempt to keep her daughter neutral and aloof.

You do nothing but listen.

This was how my day seemed to unfold reading cover to co
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Cindy H.
Oh God, how do I rate / review this memoir?
Molly’s writing is beautiful. Soulful and raw, bold and honest but I’m not sure necessary. This book felt like Molly needed to unburden her heavy load, to ease her conscience, maybe tell her “side” of the story. I think Molly is a loving mother, but I question how her daughter June will receive this book in the coming years. Not my favorite memoir even though I LOVED her first book A Homemade Life.
4 stars for writing
2.5 content
#MoreMehThanYeah
Narra
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rachel
Feb 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
My work wife and I joke all of the time about androgynous TikTok thirst traps making us question ourselves. We both are attracted to "masculinity" (for lack of a better word to describe a specific type of presentation) and both of us find that that continues to be true when women present as masculine, too. The Fixed Stars interested me as an exploration of that in-between, the space we used to call "bi-curious" given a more accurate label of "fluid."

Molly Wizenberg was in her late 30s, married
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Katie Stroble
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
While perusing goodreads reviews of this book before I started it, I found a review that compared this book to a friend showing up to your house with a bottle of whisky, ready to spill all the dirt on how and why her marriage ended. And in a way, I completely agree. Molly writes in a way that is totally candid, and feels as though I'm listening to my best friend fill me in on her life and her emotions. It felt deeply personal and raw and trusting - Molly held nothing back, not the good, not the ...more
EB Fitzsimons
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One doesn't need to be familiar with Wizenberg's older memoirs to be both crushed and elated by her newest, in which she recounts how she fell in love with a woman after ten years of marriage to a man. Her thoughtful reflections on the fluidity of gender, love, sexuality, motherhood, and self shows how successfully she's transitioned to the role of author and reminds me how important bloggers are: they chronicle ordinary stories in extraordinary ways and show us that our own lives, too, are beau ...more
Thushara (Triobookdragons)
4 stars. Review to come
Katharine
May 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Having not read either of Wizenberg's previous two memoirs, I went into this not knowing much. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her and how she came to be who she is today. And as white, straight, cisgender woman, I also found everything she learned and all the research she shared about gender and sexuality very informative and eye opening. She shared her story with honest self reflection and I admire the way she's worked so hard to create a life that feels true to herself, not matter how ha ...more
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I started out as a food writer focused on home cooking, using food as a lens for peering into everyday life and relationships. I was interested in people, in how we find and make meaning for ourselves. I still am. My latest book, The Fixed Stars, is a memoir about sexuality, divorce, and motherhood. I wrote it because, in my mid-thirties, nearly a decade into marriage and newly a mother, I lost tr ...more

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Anne Lamott, the beloved writer of memoirs including Bird by Bird and Traveling Mercies, once said, “You own everything that happened to you....
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“How often, in everyday conversation, had I said things I didn’t mean or feel, just to be polite, to make things easier? How often had I said to Brandon what I thought I should say in order to maintain order, to repair a rift? We had never been good at disagreement. One of us always gave in when it got too uncomfortable. One of us would recognize that we were at a dead end, would begin to back out. We rarely paved a road through to the other side. We rarely stuck with it long enough to forge any kind of new, if painful, understanding.” 1 likes
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