Monday, November 17, 2003

Thoughts on Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood by Naomi Wolf?

It reads fast, but probably not something everyone is going to want to read while pregnant, esp. if you have an anxious personality and worry easily.

The first half of the book disappointed me with it's tone... a frequent complaint reviewers seem to have. No, not everyone has the same pregnancy experience. But, geez, it got old fast... all the personal stories were negative experiences -- there were no positives to help balance it out. I just couldn't relate to it. I've read personal memoir type books that were much better editted for a more balanced tone overall and present themselves as a collection. In a clearly defined anthology or collection, you know going into it that every story is going to have it's own slant.

With a title like Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood I was expecting something something more factual, better researched, and more truly unexpected. So I wasn't ready for the heavy personals in the first chunk.

I still wonder why it has "parenting" as the back cover's category guide. But then, they couldn't have put "anthology" or "non-fiction" or "women's studies" or "popular culture" on it either because the book doesn't seem to have a clear writing style or clear goal in mind. Or maybe it aims for one and misses the mark? But definitely it was NOT a "parenting" type book.

The second half was slightly better in tone but it wasn't anything unexpectedly new. It has less personal stories mixed in and more statistics but seems to skim across the topics rather than going deeply enough. I remember wondering why this book was so short if the topic it attempted to cover had so much potential material.

One review I read made me laugh because it echoed my thoughts in a succint way:

Reviewer: ytak from Canadada
It stretches credulity to imagine that Naomi Wolf was unaware of any number of the issues her book covers.

Gosh, North American doctors tend to medicalise pregnancy, labour, and delivery.

Golly, pregnancy really gets a woman's nesting instinct perking.

Jiminy crickets, being a mother really changes a person's life.

Gee whiz, motherhood is seriously undervalued in North American society.

Heavens to Betsy, women generally end up being the primary caregiver.

Gracious, it's hard to be a mother **and** have a career.

I mean, duh.

While it's true that no one is fully prepared for motherhood, Wolf ranges, wide-eyed yet uninsightful, across well-travelled terrain, displaying a disheartening ignorance of the reproductive aspect of womens' lives. She presents as fresh and new phenomena and experiences that have been widely chronicled and trenchantly observed by far more perceptive writers than she, and she does it all in a prose that is both breathless and cloying. It is shocking that an educated woman, a proud feminist, no less, could have been as thoroughly uninformed about pregnancy, childbirth, and mothering as Wolf apparently was.

All in all, a silly book penned by an uninspiring scribe.

I'm still not sure if it's bad editting or unclear goals in writing that are the fault with this book. I wanted to enjoy it so much more than I actually did. I'm probably going to re-read it before I make up my mind if I'm keeping it or returning it but it certainly wasn't one I'd heartily recc. to friends and right now it looks likes a return.

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