EXPECTING MIRACLES

ON THE PATH OF HOPE FROM INFERTILITY TO PARENTHOOD

This testament to the pain of infertility and the promise of reproductive technology relentlessly accentuates the positive even as it describes the utter desperation of couples who are willing to do whatever it takes to have a child. It’s not that Zouves, who is medical director at the San Francisco—based Pacific Fertility Center—one of the few in the country to offer its clients a money-back guarantee—is blind to what his patients are going through. On the contrary, he does an excellent job of recounting the physical, emotional, and financial toll that infertility treatment can take on his patients and their families. It’s just that in a book that considers every possible obstacle to having a baby—advanced age, endometriosis, fibroids, cancer, vasectomy, low sperm count and/or motility, immune system problems, to name just a few—nearly every couple depicted here emerges from the infertility ordeal with at least one healthy newborn. To be sure, most of them had to go pretty far afield; many underwent multiple cycles of in vitro fertilization, others had to rely on sperm or egg donors. Some even resorted to surrogates. The details of their treatment are described unflinchingly: hundreds of hormone shots, multiple miscarriages, the heartbreak of being “a little bit pregnant!” after embryos are implanted, only to have the “pregnancy” vanish, and the irony of “selective reduction,” i.e., aborting one or more fetuses when fertility treatments work too well. For those grappling with infertility, Zouves’s work, which makes the intricacies of biology understandable to the lay reader, offers a useful primer on cutting-edge science. And while it holds out much-needed hope to those who yearn for children, the book would have been more valuable had it reflected the reality that miracles do not happen every day.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-6046-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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McWilliams presents a solid argument, though it is not as radical or inspiring as he may have hoped, and the book could use...

EATING PROMISCUOUSLY

ADVENTURES IN THE FUTURE OF FOOD

A food writer and historian argues that humans would be healthier with a more diverse diet.

McWilliams (History/Texas State Univ.; The Modern Savage: Our Unthinking Decision to Eat Animals, 2015, etc.) continues the attack on foodies, locavores, highbrow restaurants, and agribusiness’s “corn-soy-sugar-animal complex” that he mounted in previous books. Here, the author profiles quirky individuals who are “pursuing peripheral culinary goals” that “have the potential to revolutionize how we think about the human diet.” The author’s overriding assumption is that it would be better for people, animals, and the environment if our diets were more diversified. Hundreds of plants and protein sources, he rightly notes, are overlooked in favor of a narrow range of food. McWilliams hopes for a “global food system that’s accessible, flexible, abundant, sustainable, healthy, humane, and resourceful.” How that ideal could be achieved is left to readers’ imaginations. The author champions the bonobo, which eats a diverse array of plants, insects, grubs, and shellfish, and cavemen, who hunted and foraged for all their food. McWilliams begins by focusing on the Reeds, obese parents and son who have been victimized, he contends, by “a food system that rendered them emotionally depressed, physically sick, and socially ostracized.” Determined to lose weight, they embarked on a diet and exercise program and achieved success within a short time. However, as the author acknowledges, their struggle will be lifelong, embedded as they are in a food culture intent on undermining them. Among others profiled are a family that exists on foraged plants and venison, felled with a bow and arrow; a man who gathers and sells seaweed; an insect farmer promoting the nutritional value of bugs; oyster farmers; and a motley group of freegans, who forage among trash bags outside of markets and restaurants. Sadly, writes the author, over 40 percent of food in America is thrown out.

McWilliams presents a solid argument, though it is not as radical or inspiring as he may have hoped, and the book could use more focused attention on creating the ideal world the author envisions.

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61902-735-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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A realistic, motivating conversation about weight loss for those who have tried everything else and failed.

THE JOY OF EATING

Part memoir and part pep talk, this debut book urges dieters to stop counting fat grams and learn to enjoy food.

When her mother died, Irwin was devastated. She was also mortified that old friends would see her at the funeral because she had “gained so much weight.” Trapped in a cycle of yo-yo dieting that had begun when she was in junior high, Irwin was a size 22 by the time she was in her 40s. Miserable, she constantly berated herself while agonizing over calories and eating prepackaged diet industry food. Then one day Irwin decided to stop dieting and love herself at any weight, eating without guilt or shame. A big believer in the “law of attraction,” where thoughts create reality, she began thinking positively about herself. Retraining her mind to view food as pleasurable nourishment, she started eating nutrient-dense items—including leafy green vegetables and fruits. And if she wanted a piece of cake—well, she just went ahead and devoured it. The pounds began coming off naturally, and as time passed, Irwin’s once overweight body became fit. This dramatic and familiar life story quickly turns into an upbeat motivational speech for stressed-out dieters, as Irwin divulges her no-frills secret for healthy weight loss—eat good food and feel great about it. While this common-sense approach isn’t new, diet-disgusted readers who don’t mind a curse word or two may be able to relate to Irwin’s friendly, plainspoken voice, as when she describes dysfunctional labels people often place on food: “How about this classic attitude, ‘Fuck it, I’ve been so bad this week I think I’ll just eat the rest of this box of cookies’?” Some of the author’s inspirational thoughts are memorable: she compares the negative voice in her head to a bully who shouldn’t be tolerated. Light on diet jargon and health-related facts (the author mentions that 68.5 percent of U.S. adults are overweight, but she doesn't cite sources), this thin, fast-paced work can be read in a couple of hours.

A realistic, motivating conversation about weight loss for those who have tried everything else and failed.    

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5043-6051-7

Page Count: 124

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2017

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