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A brutally honest and sad testimony of a desperate desire for motherhood.

A woman’s struggle to conceive redefines her capacity to love.

In a graphically detailed, at times solipsistic memoir, Australian novelist Leigh (Disquiet, 2008, etc.) chronicles her efforts, over several years, to conceive a child. In February 2008, the author and Paul, her husband-to-be, visited a fertility clinic to assess their chances for pregnancy. First on their agenda was reversing Paul’s vasectomy, done years earlier after he had a son in a previous marriage. That procedure was only one among countless others: a test to determine Paul’s sperm count; tests clearing them as carriers of illnesses such as hepatitis, HIV, rubella, and syphilis; tests to ascertain Leigh’s hormone levels; and ultrasounds—all before Leigh began treatment to enhance ovulation. Meanwhile, the couple married, but soon the marriage fell apart. “He said I was relegating ‘Us’ to my insistent desire for a child,” she writes. “I couldn’t bear his deliberate procrastinating, his brooding, his rages. The weight of his reproach.” At first, he consented for her to use his sperm for in vitro fertilization; quickly, he changed his mind. “He didn’t think I should be a mother; I was too selfish; I didn’t know how to love,” writes Leigh. Adamant about not using a sperm donor, Leigh pleaded with Paul, struggled to find another donor among men she knew, and finally found a friend who agreed. Years of blood tests, injections, and scans—recounted in detail—resulted in several implanted blastocysts, none of which developed. Over and over, Leigh collapsed in disappointment, only to begin again, submitting her body to continuous manipulation. Paul once had nicknamed her Pollyanna Juggernaut due to her undaunted optimism, but reality finally set in. No matter what the mother’s age, she learned, assisted reproduction rarely results in pregnancy. “It’s an industry predicated on failure,” she realized, and she quit, vowing “to love widely and intensely.”

A brutally honest and sad testimony of a desperate desire for motherhood. 

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-393-29276-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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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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