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A disarming and casually hilarious take on the opposite of co-parenting.

A fertility memoir with a whiff of Tristram Shandy.

British journalist Brockes (She Left Me the Gun: My Mother’s Life Before Me, 2013, etc.) recounts the process by which she and “L” decided to bear children as single, working mothers in a nontraditional but loving relationship. The author spent her 20s in the grip of an all-consuming dream job: writing for the Guardian. The sudden breakup of a three-way work marriage (one of her best friends fell pregnant) propelled her all the way to New York and onto the path toward having not just one baby, but twins, all by herself. Her eccentric narrative hazes over the challenges of same-sex parenting to focus on the fertility industry and the alternative structure that she and L created to make up for their hopeless incompatibility as live-in partners. They found matching apartments on different floors of the same Upper West Side high rise, which enabled them to bring the kids together regularly, but each woman parented her own children to suit herself. Brockes plays up the contrast in fertility treatment styles between England and the U.S., but while she extols the stolidity and sensibility of her national health care birthright, she can’t help but glory in the comparatively free-wheeling American market for intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization as one more indication that her adopted country is the “place where the future happens first.” Her quirky, neurotic intensity pairs well with the brisk pace she has crafted after so many years writing to deadlines, and she holds little back. The book speaks to a growing contingent of would-be parents who reach their 30s and 40s and find they have the means and motivation to have kids outside of a conventional domestic partnership, embracing their chosen single parenthood as a form of empowerment. It seems as if almost everyone bearing a child is writing a book about it, but Brockes is too original a personality to fall in quietly with the rest.

A disarming and casually hilarious take on the opposite of co-parenting.

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59420-663-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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