A reassuring picture of one facet of womanhood.


A writer takes a wide-ranging look at life for women who never have children.

Debut author Kaufmann recalls walking on the beach with a new friend and broaching the title question—one she always dreads hearing. With her years of unsuccessful infertility treatment long behind her, the now-single author wouldn’t want people interpreting this as the defining tragedy of her life. Instead, she characterizes childlessness as a situation that, like any other, has advantages as well as drawbacks. Raising a child costs $250,000 and 10 full-time working years, she reports, and “ambitious women still take career hits for having kids.” When she attends the first-ever “NotMom Summit” in Cleveland in 2015, women tell her that having children would have prevented them from experiencing meandering, exciting career paths. Philosophy professor Jane insisted: “Not having children was probably the best thing that ever happened to me…all my energies would have gone into them.” Bobbi felt free to travel while Chris could accept the low paychecks of nonprofit work. “I wish I’d had older non-moms to confide in and seek guidance from,” Kaufmann writes, and this perceptive and informative book is an attempt to fill that gap in the self-help market with stories and tips from those who’ve been there. The author acknowledges that women wind up in this situation for diverse reasons—it’s 50/50 chosen/forced for those she meets—and that the language problem doesn’t help: There’s no good term for a nonmother apart from the medical nulliparous. “Childless" implies a lack; the blithe "childfree" suggests that women are "giddily free." Whichever word one uses, Kaufmann deftly notes that friendships, aging, and spirituality can pose particular challenges for women who don’t have someone to pass their beliefs or possessions to. But she suggests numerous important roles nonmothers can play in children’s lives, such as stepmother, aunt, nanny, or tutor. Ultimately, this supportive volume serves as a plea to respect the diversity of human experience; “our options and lifestyles do not imperil motherhood….Rather, we represent a complementary dynamic,” the author concludes.

A reassuring picture of one facet of womanhood.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63152-581-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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