ON OUR OWN: Unmarried Motherhood in America by Melissa Ludtke
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ON OUR OWN: Unmarried Motherhood in America

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Ludtke takes two seemingly unrelated trends--the high number of unmarried teens who become pregnant by mistake and the increase in the number of older, single women who become mothers by choice--and seamlessly weaves them together in a remarkable, impressively comprehensive tale of single motherhood. In part her journey into the consciousness of America's unmarried mothers was jolted by her own realization that she wanted to have a child even if it meant doing so sans partner. Her personal stake infuses the mini-stories of the teenagers and women she interviews with an empathy that makes their humanity real, their tales important. A journalist who has worked for Sports Illustrated and Time, Ludtke knows the value of solid statistics and research. She intersperses her conversations with a variety of facts and figures, as well as interviews with experts. But she offers more than mere statistics--we meet people who struggle with some of life's most important issues and some of society's most pervasive stereotypes and biases. Ludtke's able and intuitive interviewing and savvy juxtaposition of these two divergent groups, reveal a number of surprising similarities between them. For example, they desire to have children for wildly different reasons, yet for both groups, that desire stems from the wish to take control of their lives. Ludtke's effective melding of the facts with the feelings leaves the reader both better informed about the where's and whyfore's of unmarried mothering and more concerned about the policies that affect the future of these women and their young children. This moving study should be required reading for all those who believe that America's embarrassingly high teen pregnancy rate can by ""fixed"" by simply reducing welfare funding and that the Murphy Brown--Dan Quayle debate was settled in the ratings sweeps.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: Random