All posts tagged: motherhood

WHAT IF THE GHOST OF MARGARET WISE BROWN visited you? THE UPSTAIRS HOUSE by julia fine delves into the delicate postpartum period, children’s literature, and so much more

By Leslie Lindsay  A terribly haunting and visceral take on the delicate postpartum period, featuring the ghost of children’s author Margaret Wise Brown. ~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ When I first learned of THE UPSTAIRS HOUSE (Harper, February 2021) by Julia Fine, I knew I had to get my hands on it. Not only does it feature ‘house’ in the title and cover, but it’s surrealistic, feministic, and provocative, melding present-day with the past, a genre-bending exploration of children’s literature, folktale, literature, horror, and more. Truly, THE UPSTAIRS HOUSE is a read unlike any other. Megan Weiler is home from the hospital after giving birth to a beautiful baby girl, her first child. Her husband, Ben is around, but not near enough, he must travel for work (in this sense, THE UPSTAIRS HOUSE reminds me a bit of Helen Phillips’s THE NEED), leaving Megan alone with infant Clara. Megan is physically exhausted and mentally drained plus, she’s still stewing on that unfinished dissertation, the one about midcentury children’s literature, specifically the life and contribution of Margaret …

Debut author Ashley audrain talks about her ravishingly dark and twisted THE PUSH, about motherhood, the postpartum period, intergenerational trauma, family legacy + reading list, more

By Leslie Lindsay  Deliciously dark and juicy psychological drama–a DEBUT–you’ll be talking about long after you turn the last page, the issues and concerns surrounding motherhood, family history, genetics, and more.  ~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ THE PUSH (forthcoming from Pamela Dorman Books/PRH January 5, 2021) is one of those buzzy–OMG–books you’ll devour in one sitting. Is it a conversation-started? You bet. Will have it have you puzzling out your own maternal history–going back generations? Yes, that too. Here, we meet Blythe Connor, a woman whose experience of motherhood is not at all what she imagine. Blythe is determined to be the warm, caring, generous mother she herself never had. Still, she can’t let go of the disturbing, nagging thought that her daughter, Violet is not like other children. Is something ‘off?’ She’s distant, defiant, stubborn, antisocial, angry. Is she dangerous? Is Blythe just exhausted? Is it because Blythe doesn’t have much of a mother figure and her childhood was distorted? And her mother’s childhood, too? Maybe. Here we examine motherhood in the most …

Is there a WRONG WAY TO SAVE YOUR LIFE? Maybe our experiences are so widely varied that there is no wrong—or right way? Megan STIELSTRA talks about thiS, motherhood, feeling stuck, being seen

by Leslie Lindsay Raw, bold and ravishing memoir loosely hinged on the concept of fear. ~MEMOIR MONDAY|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS Book of the Year Award, Nonfiction, Chicago Review of Books, December 2017 Best Books of 2017, Chicago Public Library, December 2017 Best Books of 2017, Chicago Magazine, December 2017 Best Books of 2017, Heidi Stevens for the Chicago Tribune, December 2017 2017 Favorites, The Rumpus, December 2017 Best Nonfiction of 2017, Vol 1. Brooklyn, December 2017 Best Books by Women in 2017, Bustle, November 2017 Great Essay Collections of 2017, Book Riot, November 2017 Finalist, Book of the Year, Nonfiction, Chicago Writer’s Association, October 2017 Is it instinct, or distinct? I am not sure and I think both apply in THE WRONG WAY TO SAVE YOUR LIFE by Megan Stielstra (Harper Perennial, 2017). Here, we dive into so many topics that are forbidden at the dinner table: feminism, the perils of academia, the writing life, postpartum depression, childhood cancer, motherhood, sex. And fear. There’s so much fear under these words, it’s palpable. These essays–or stories–snapshots, …

Ravishing bold & meaty memoir focusing on mothers, mental health, grief, but also trauma, the female body, traditional ‘womanhood;’ plus writing structure, more in WIVING

By Leslie Lindsay  Ravishingly bold and haunting memoir about growing up Mormon, ‘wifely’ expectations, mental illness, and sexual abuse. ~Writers Interviewing Writers |ALWAYS WITH BOOK~ I was immediately taken with this compassionately visceral and lyrical memoir by Caitlyn Myer.  WIVING (Arcade Books/Skyhorse Publishing, July 2020) is so brave, so bold, all things laid bare account of the author’s upbringing, but also abuse and personal sexuality. Raised Utah in a traditional Mormon family, Caitlin Myer’s life had an expected trajectory: she would attend church-related activities, hold on to her virginity, learn to be sweet and compliant, keep a hope chest, and then when the time was right, she would marry and enter ‘full womanhood.’ I read with such an urgency a worry and an impending sense of doom–things do not go to plan. As much as I loved WIVING, it’s a challenge to summarize it in terms of plot–it comes to the reader in a fragmented, spiraling thread, and I love this structure. It’s much like life in that sense, and in what I think encompasses the entirety of the narrative: …

Twists, turns, and toxicity: THE END OF HER is wicked good, a dark escape into brilliantly actualized characters, plus who Shari Lapena would cast *if* it were adapted into a movie

By Leslie Lindsay Deliciously dark and deceptive, the most awry characters, set in a bucolic suburban setting in Shari Lapena’s new thriller, THE END OF HER.  ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS| ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ #1 Internationally Bestselling Author Shari Lapena, the author of last summer’s propulsive thriller, SOMEONE WE KNOW returns to the bucolic town of Aylesford, nestled in New York’s Hudson Valley. Here, in THE END OF HER (Penguin/Pamela Dorman Books, July 28 2020),  we meet Stephanie Kilgour, a young woman who seemingly has it all: A beautiful home; a loving architect husband, and twin baby girls. But she’s exhausted. The babies are only four months old and colicky. Stephanie is unraveling. Fatigue and new motherhood is taking it’s toll. Her husband, Patrick, does what he can, but work is intense. And then, a woman from his past shows up unexpectedly. He’s flabbergasted and terrified. Secrets surface. The woman, Erika, is insidious, weaving her way into Stephanie’s life, Patrick’s partner’s bed, and more. THE END OF HER is deliciously deceptive, full of twists and turns, …

A blazingly bold and brave memoir about losing one’s mind, then reclaiming oneself, steeped in Korean culture, tradition, more Catherine Cho’s INFERNO is about her battle with postpartum psychosis

By Leslie Lindsay  Terrifying, brutally honest memoir about a mother’s experience with postpartum psychosis, her time in a mental institution, and her recovery. ~MEMOIR MONDAY|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ A BUZZFEED SUMMER 2020 SELECTION Catherine Cho’s INFERNO: A Memoir of Motherhood and Madness (Henry Holt, August 4, 2020) has been on my radar since I heard (about a year ago) that this book was in the works. It’s a riveting account of one woman’s experience with postpartum psychosis, before and after her hospitalization, and infused with Korean culture. Catherine and her husband, James, set off from London to visit their family in a whirlwind visit of the U.S., starting in California and working their way across the country to the east coast. They have their 2-month old infant, Cato, with them. The plan is to visit with each family member, proudly showing off their new baby, culminating with Cato’s 100-day celebration, a milestone in Korean culture. Before the trip’s end, Catherine becomes unhinged…she’s paranoid, tired, worried about the baby, her in-laws seem overbearing. She feels she is being watched. She loses …

Can we break the cycle of trauma and abuse? Kristi Carter talks about this, the twilight of spring, Southern identity, the struggles that make up womankind, and so much more in this luminous collection of poetry in ARIA VISCERA

By Leslie Lindsay Such a gorgeously dark and ruminative collection of poetry focusing on one’s thick, oppressive familial heritage, and yet, a compelling light to break the cycle. ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ With a title like ARIA VISCERA (April Gloaming Press, May 5 2020), I could hardly resist this collection by Kristi Carter. In music, aria is defined as a singular voice, self-contained, and it also brings to mind great expansion, an origin I am not familiar with etymologically, but maybe. And of course, viscera represents the internal organs. Being a writer with a background in medicine, this collection spoke to me, quite literally, but once I dove into the pages, I discovered there was another calling: it’s about a scarred past, and how scars don’t exactly go away, but fade; it’s about finding one’s own light in dark times, of escaping the cycle of abuse, neglect, of breaking away. Divided into four sections, ARIA VISCERA focuses on birth, names, anatomy, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, brothers, life cycles; it’s also about myths and monsters (literal and …

Moms–how are you faring? Tired of being a people-pleaser? Looking to strip off that mask? Katherine Wintsch will show you how in her book, SLAY LIKE A MOTHER

By Leslie Lindsay  Entertaining, honest, hopeful self-help book for busy mothers, reads like a chat with your best girlfriend. ~WEEKEND READING|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ NOW IN PAPERBACK! GET IT, GIFT IT…FOR MOTHER’S DAY. This book came across my desk at the very right moment. I had been feeling like a hamster in a wheel going nowhere fast for some time. I work hard, but why do I feel so burned out? I wanted a break from it all. And then–the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Did I want to slay the virus? You bet. Could I? Not really. So I holed up and read. SLAY LIKE A MOTHER (Sourcebooks trade paperback, March 2020) by motivational speaker and mom Katherine Wintsch was a bit of a wake-up call, but it also affirmed that I am doing a lot of things ‘right.’ Here she talks about the idea that many of us are people-pleasers. We almost *have* to be with work demands, household stuff, raising children, partner/spouse connectivity. She talks about ‘why’ we are people-pleasers (and not all of us are, but we’re …

Wife, mother, and advocate Teresa Unnerstall dives in head-first with her all-hands-on-deck approach to navigating an autism & Down’s syndrome diagnosis in her new book, A NEW COURSE

By Leslie Lindsay  With humor, kindness, and practical advice, mother, writer, and special needs advocate absolutely has all-hands on deck as she traverses the choppy waters of a child with a dual-diagnosis. ~BOOKS ON MONDAY|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ Teresa Unnerstall doesn’t tip her toes into the water of Down’s syndrome and autism, she dives head-first into the deep-end. Told with wit, compassion, faith, empathy, brutal honesty, and gentle advocacy, A NEW COURSE: A Mother’s Journey Navigating Down’s syndrome and autism (Kat Biggie Press, May 5 2020) is a beacon of light for a parent traversing the rocky waters of a DS-ASD dual-diagnosis. I found myself wholly engaged in this book—the worries, the fears, the emotional ups and downs. Teresa proves that she is just like any other mother—but so much more. She created laminated picture cards for her son and taped them to the shower wall so he’d know the steps for self-hygiene. When she wasn’t doing that, she researched behavioral therapies and looked into school programs and advocated for her son. Somedays, she’s cleaned …

Lee Matalone on her razor-sharp, elegant debut, HOME MAKING, about identity, belonging, mother-daughter relationships, her love of architecture, how she never intended to write a novel, and the importance of the line

By Leslie Lindsay  An elegant, perceptive, yet powerful debut about what it means to belong, to search for self within the constructs of a home. ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS| ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ HOME MAKING: A Novel by Lee Matalone (HarperPerennial, Feb 18 2020) is such an intangible kind of read–it’s not fully a novel, not fully a memoir, but somewhere between. And I really loved this hybrid-like approach. It’s told in first person and doesn’t exactly follow the traditional arc of fiction, but it more meditative, quiet, introspective like one might expect of a memoir. Having said all that, this is a work of fiction (of course, like all good fiction, it’s often mined from the ‘real-life’ of the author’s experiences). The story starts off with a Japanese woman who runs away with a French man, becomes pregnant, then puts the baby up for adoption.That baby is adopted by an American family leaves Japan, and is raised with her adoptive family in Tucson, Arizona. This little girl (Cybil) grows up to become an ob/gyn, delivering babies while her own, a daughter (Chloe), …