A gripping chronicle that will be especially useful for expectant or aspirational mothers.

THE DOULAS

RADICAL CARE FOR PREGNANT PEOPLE

The story of the transformative Doula Project.

Mahoney and Mitchell explain how they were inspired as activists to broaden the reproductive rights movement to make sure that women seeking abortions “have continuous, nonjudgmental physical, emotional, and educational support just like people giving birth.” During the summers of 2007 and 2008, they “set out to translate the reproductive justice framework into a more direct-care-oriented approach.” They took the term “doula,” derived from the Greek name for female slave and in the past only used to describe birth attendants, and adapted it to include “abortion doulas.” The authors aimed to include not only women who suffered miscarriages, underwent deliberate abortions, or decided to become single mothers, but also “transgender and gender nonconforming people,” and they helped to bridge the gap between birth and abortion activists. As they note, those who sought their help were mainly “women of color, immigrants, and young people.” While the main focus of the book is the women they served and the causes they supported, the authors also discuss the problem of caregiver burnout in this emotionally charged field. During the past decade, doulas have been credited with helping to create a more broad-minded acceptance of their craft, and just as significantly, they have gained acceptance by the medical profession, something that was sorely lacking in previous decades. For women without support from family or friends, their presence during medical procedures can be crucial. Doulas represent their clients’ wishes when they are unable to do so—e.g., helping to make a decision about induced labor or C-section. This eye-opening book also includes a glossary that defines common terms such as “epidural” as well as less-familiar ones like “dilation and curettage” or “manual vacuum aspiration.” Throughout, the authors’ stories are vivid, absorbing, and informative.

A gripping chronicle that will be especially useful for expectant or aspirational mothers.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-55861-941-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Feminist Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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

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