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Tales of Real-Life Parenthood

edited by Camille Peri & Kate Moses

Pub Date: May 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-375-50269-6
Publisher: Random House

An intermittently provocative and entertaining collection of essays, most reprinted from othe online magazine Salon, on many aspects of motherhood. Peri and Moses, editors at Salon, present close to 40 first-person narratives by mostly new voices deliberating on the joys and sadness of motherhood. Among the more refreshing is that of Joyce Millman, Salon’s television critic, who humorously depicts her half-hearted decision to become a classroom volunteer in her son’s kindergarten class and its unsuspected consequences. For the first time in her life, she achieves popularity and gains school spirit. But, even more, she gains enormous respect for teachers, “not just for the workload they carry, but for the emotional load.” On a more serious note, Ariel Gore, editor of the parenting zine Hip Mama, vividly describes the nightmare of her six-year odyssey in a dysfunctional family court, while seeking protection for herself and her daughter against her daughter’s criminally insane father. And writer and editor Kim Van Meter describes the wrenching decision she made, together with her partner, Margi, not to adopt an emotionally troubled five-year-old girl who was likely to need a lot more than “someone to love her.” Also on the theme of adoption is writer and editor Ceil Malek’s moving and enlightening account of giving up a baby girl in 1965 and reuniting with her 20 years later. NPR contributor Karen Grigsby Bates describes her attempts to instill black pride and awareness in her daughter, who is growing up in a privileged white world. The most powerful essay is by editor Peri, who, in relating two tales, vividly describes the unbearable pain the loss of a child brings. Though some of the essays here are too “cutesy” and come off too much like self-indulgent exercises in prose, many brim with intelligence and excitement. (illustrations, not seen)