August 6, 2017
(I wrote this book review for a class in midwifery school, November 2009)
This book is a memoir by Andrea Askowitz, a single woman going through a planned pregnancy. I believe the intended audience is “people who think she’s funny.” Being written by a lesbian, it will probably be read by a greater percentage of lesbians than if it were the same book written by a straight girl, but it’s being marketed to society in general: as the review by Jill Soloway on the cover says, “You don’t have to be miserable, lonely or a lesbian to…” That said, the book is a pregnancy memoir, so the audience is more likely to be pregnant folks, or those who have been through a pregnancy or may want to at some point.
I would probably not recommend this book to clients who are looking for information about ART or even those who want a story about someone going through fertility treatments, as only short portions of the book are about preconception. For the most part, the book is an exercise in self-pity, although to be fair, the title should have clued me in to expect some whining.
This actually isn’t even a pregnancy memoir I’d really recommend to clients: Askowitz has a mainstream pregnancy, even though she does switch to a birth center for her birth. The book is thusly full of allopathy-induced freak-outs, which may not be helpful for those who are pregnant, as well as information that’s just wrong. For instance, she quotes a doula as saying “A doula is cross between a nurse and a midwife” (p 127). If a doula actually said that, I’m rather concerned that they’re doing their job wrong, or rather, doing someone else’s job! Regardless of whether the confusion is the doula’s or Askowitz’s, I’m not a big fan of falsely informing the public, especially as the public is more likely to be a mainstream pregnant person who may never have heard of a doula before.
I probably wouldn’t even recommend this book consistently to queer clients who are looking to see themselves in literature. Yes, Askowitz is a lesbian, but she is actually a homophobic, sometimes misogynist lesbian. We do watch her deal with her parents’ reluctant acceptance of her life, but it’s no excuse for her butch-bashing or anti-feminist rants. I do applaud Askowitz’s willingness to be honest about her thoughts and feelings, but much of the reason queer people want to read books by and about other queer people is avoid hearing an author’s bigotry and assumptions.
All that said, Askowitz is pretty funny at times. Some people, perhaps those who are also miserable, might enjoy reading about the author’s misery to feel better about themselves, either because they don’t have it as bad as she, or, more likely, because even though they have it worse, at least they don’t whine as much as she does and ostracize everyone they know. I might recommend this book as light reading for someone (queer or not) who is both fairly knowledgeable and firm in their own decisions about pregnancy care and the birth process, who can take Askowitz’s perspectives with a grain of salt. As for me, I was consistently frustrated with this book, as a care provider, as someone who identifies as queer, and as someone who likes others to take ownership of their actions.
Tags: Book Reviews
Perinatal care specialist. Spouse and parent. Vegan; drinks a lot of tea. Birthed our kid and also carried a surrogacy. Board game (and generally) geeky. Goat hugger extraordinaire.
Read more about Jay here.