DUBIOUS CONCEPTIONS

THE POLITICS OF TEEN PREGNANCY

Insightful, scholarly, and wonderfully readable analysis of Americans' misconceptions about teenage pregnancy and the impact of these beliefs on public policy. The unwed teenage mother, especially the black unwed teenage mother, has become the symbol of social, sexual, and economic trends that are causing increasing anxiety for Americans. Sociologist Luker (Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood, 1984) asserts that current welfare reforms aimed at reducing teenage pregnancy rates are doomed to fail because they are based on a basic misunderstanding of the problem. In her words, ``Early childbearing doesn't make young women poor; rather, poverty makes women bear children at an early age.'' Luker traces ideas about early childbearing from colonial times to the present and demonstrates how the notion that the country is witnessing an explosion in teenage pregnancy came to have broad acceptance among both policy makers and the general public. Of special interest is her argument that poor women and affluent women are choosing two different solutions to their common problem of raising children in a society that offers little support: Poor women adopt the traditional American pattern of early childbearing, having babies before they enter the work force and relying on family help, whereas affluent women postpone childbearing until they are well established in their careers. Given the circumstances, she says, it makes sense for poor women to have their babies at an early age. The real problem is the underlying social and economic forces that compel women to make such choices. ``Society should worry not about some epidemic of `teenage pregnancy' but about the hopeless, discouraged, and empty lives that early childbearing denotes,'' she concludes. She offers no ready solutions, but her fresh perspective on the issue of teenage pregnancy is an important contribution to the current debate over welfare reform. Commonsensical, timely, and very persuasive.

Pub Date: May 15, 1996

ISBN: 0-674-21702-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

WHY WE SWIM

A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more