A strong contribution to discussions of reproductive rights.

YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE I'VE TOLD

THE STORIES BEHIND ABORTION

Women’s candid stories bear witness to the state of reproductive health care.

Family medicine physician and chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood, Hudson Peconic, Shah has long served as a reproductive health advocate. As in recent books such as Diana Greene Foster’s The Turnaway Study and Annie Finch’s Choice Words, Shah’s profiles of 17 women—of diverse racial, ethnic, and gender identity—testify to the complexities of choosing to abort a pregnancy. The author contextualizes each woman’s story with information about reproductive rights and access in different states, treatment in various facilities, and the challenges a woman faces within different cultures. “Being a woman of color, specifically Indian American, and a daughter of immigrants,” writes Shah, “has given me some insight to the intersections and complexities that come with being pregnant.” Her subjects include an unmarried woman in Austin, Texas, forced to undergo a mandatory 24-hour waiting period before an abortion could be performed; a teenage daughter of West Indian parents who sought an abortion in the 1990s; a biracial 15-year-old granted judicial consent so she could proceed with an abortion; several women who chose abortion when faced with evidence of the fetus’s severe abnormalities; and a genderqueer individual whose experience made Shah aware that “gender diversity among patients should be matched with gender diversity among health care providers.” For some women, abortion was proscribed by their religious background or family beliefs; others were unable to be helped at Catholic hospitals, which provided other medical services. Some women were forced to go out of their home state, incurring huge expenses besides the cost of the procedure. “Abortion is health care,” Shah writes. “But there is no other form of health care that requires patients to face as many obstacles.” These moving stories, taken together, sharply reveal the connections among “reproductive justice, gender justice, racial justice, and economic justice.”

A strong contribution to discussions of reproductive rights.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64160-363-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Fans will find comfort in Lawson’s dependably winning mix of shameless irreverence, wicked humor, and vulnerability.

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BROKEN (IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY)

The Bloggess is back to survey the hazards and hilarity of imperfection.

Lawson is a wanderer. Whether on her award-winning blog or in the pages of her bestselling books, she reliably takes readers to places they weren’t even aware they wanted to go—e.g., shopping for dog condoms or witnessing what appears to be a satanic ritual. Longtime fans of the author’s prose know that the destinations really aren’t the point; it’s the laugh-out-loud, tears-streaming-down-your-face journeys that make her writing so irresistible. This book is another solid collection of humorous musings on everyday life, or at least the life of a self-described “super introvert” who has a fantastic imagination and dozens of chosen spirit animals. While Furiously Happy centered on the idea of making good mental health days exceptionally good, her latest celebrates the notion that being broken is beautiful—or at least nothing to be ashamed of. “I have managed to fuck shit up in shockingly impressive ways and still be considered a fairly acceptable person,” writes Lawson, who has made something of an art form out of awkward confessionals. For example, she chronicles a mix-up at the post office that left her with a “big ol’ sack filled with a dozen small squishy penises [with] smiley faces painted on them.” It’s not all laughs, though, as the author addresses her ongoing battle with both physical and mental illness, including a trial of transcranial magnetic stimulation, a relatively new therapy for people who suffer from treatment-resistant depression. The author’s colloquial narrative style may not suit the linear-narrative crowd, but this isn’t for them. “What we really want,” she writes, “is to know we’re not alone in our terribleness….Human foibles are what make us us, and the art of mortification is what brings us all together.” The material is fresh, but the scaffolding is the same.

Fans will find comfort in Lawson’s dependably winning mix of shameless irreverence, wicked humor, and vulnerability.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-07703-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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