Book Review: The Other Mother – Jen Brister

When Jen falls in love with Chloe they have a great life and eventually decide that having a small person was something they wanted to do. As her wife goes through the process of IVF and pregnancy Jen finds herself as ‘The Other Mother’. There’s also the small matter that Chloe became pregnant with twins, it’s a lot for anyone to handle.

I have to say, I’m not a parent to an actual human child, I currently only have fur babies in my life so I can’t be the judge on how realistic this is but I found it to be a book that shares a lot. Jen is completely honest about her experiences, about how tough she found it at times and how boring looking after kids can be.

I found myself laughing so much while reading this book and now I’m desperate to see Jen perform as a comedian. It just feels incredibly real but also she’s not afraid to laugh at herself, her thoughts and her actions. This isn’t a book telling you how to raise a child or being the perfect parent.

Jen is also respectful of the privacy of her children. Her sons are referred to throughout the book as Twin 1 and Twin 2 and while she shares stories about her life with Chloe raising them, we don’t know their names. It’s clear that Jen wants to protect the identity of her boys and who can blame her? This book is about her experience of being ‘The Other Mother’ it’s not a biography of her children. I respect that.

Also, I can highly recommend the audiobook which is how I absorbed it and I really couldn’t stop listening. Although a note to anyone who does get the audiobook, be ready to laugh out loud at various points and look a bit nuts.

I gave this book 5 stars and have been recommending it to a lot of people recently. It’s funny but also gives a real look at what it’s like to be a non-biological parent in 2019.

Book Review: Nobody Told Me: Poetry and Parenthood – Holly McNish

Nobody Told Me Hollie McNish

 

Holly McNish is on her way to Glastonbury when she decides to take a pregnancy test, the blue lines appear and it’s not long after that Hollie starts writing her thoughts and feelings down. This continues throughout the entirety of her pregnancy all the way through to her child’s third birthday. A collection of diary entries and poetry.

I picked this up while waiting for the train after seeing it on a list of incredible poetry collections. Seeing as my dissertation and another of my final essays was about the female body, motherhood and poetry so of course, I wanted to read this. It was even better than I could have imagined.

I want to point out that I’ve never had children but I loved this collection and found it SO relatable. At each and every point in this Hollie is honest about her feelings. She talks about the changes in her body during pregnancy, birth and post birth and how they make her feel. The resentment she sometimes feels for her partner. The need she had to go back to work while struggling with the guilt of being a working mother.

It won’t be much of a surprise to say that I really, really enjoyed this collection. It is a lot bigger than most poetry collections but I think that’s because it does have the prose/diary entries too rather than just poems. I felt like that is what made it better though. There was so much to say and it didn’t feel crammed.

I gave this the full 5 stars and I can’t wait to read more of Hollie’s work. There is honesty, humour and wise words within this book and I want to recommend it to all of my poetry-loving friends. An absolutely fantastic read and I cannot recommend it enough.

Book Review: My Shitty Twenties – Emily Morris

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Emily Morris was just an average 22 year old, she loved travelling, her degree and was balancing that with a part time job. That was until she took a pregnancy test and it was positive. After the father telling her to ‘enjoy her shitty twenties,’ she knew she was going it alone.

I came across this marvel of a memoir because of a recommendation in a magazine, there was something about the title that grabbed me as well as the brilliant cover design. I’m the same age that Emily was when she found out she was pregnant so it felt very real to me.

I feel like I need to point out this book could have gone a very different direction. This is not a whiny, my life is so hard and it’s not my fault type book, not at all. This is a very different type of coming of age story. It’s Emily having to grow up and completely change the course of her life, with her son.

While reading, I honestly felt for Emily. There was no support from the father and a sense of losing her independence after she needed to leave her student accommodation to live with her Mum, away from the city she loved to care for her newborn son. I can say, hand on heart, that she is a fantastic Mum.

This book breaks down terrible stereotypes about young mothers. I think I loved it so much because she has the same spirit and determination that my Mum had when she had me at 21. That said, she shares the hard times as well, the fact that she struggled with postnatal depression and the struggles of being judged as a young mum trying to do her best.

I honestly think that this is an incredible memoir. It’s thought provoking and shows the best of a change in your life. I’ve given this book 4 stars I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to see what Emily does next.

Book Review: Happy Mum, Happy Baby by Giovanna Fletcher

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Now, I’ll start this review by saying I’m not a Mum, I’m not planning to become one anytime soon, so I’m not exactly the target audience for Giovanna’s new book. For those of you who haven’t heard of Giovanna, or ‘Gi’, she is an author, YouTuber, singer, actress and you may have heard of her equally talented husband, Tom Fletcher of McFly.

This is Gi’s first non-fiction book, talking about her experiences as a mother to two young boys. Now, if you’re looking for a book of tips or ‘how-tos’ this is not the book for you. Gi makes this clear throughout and her honesty is what is so refreshing. I picked up this book after watching Gi’s Youtube Channel for a year or two, she seemed smart, funny and honest about what it was like to be a mother. The book truly reflects this.

There is no holding back in this book. Gi talks about everything from her miscarriage, hypnobirthing, her worries and thoughts about her changing body, how children sometimes are just unreasonable, the joy her sons bring, the times she sat and just cried with them. Everything in this book is from the heart. She talks about the worry of mum guilt and how everyone has an opinion, how this has impacted her. The best part though is that it makes you laugh and not in a way that would embarrass her children. Gi can look back and laugh at things she may have gotten wrong or found stressful at times.

Much like in her videos this book is an extension of the friendliness Gi radiates. She is clear that there is no one way to parent a child, there are no set rules about what you should and shouldn’t do. Every child and every mother is different and that is something celebrated in Happy Mum, Happy Baby. There is discussion on breastfeeding and how hard it can be, on Mum sweats and more but it’s done in a way that you realise it is possible, you can get through it.

This book has made me feel more confident that one day I could be a mother, that I could actually do it. It’s brilliantly written and made me want to laugh and cry simultaneously. As of writing, this book is currently number 1 and I wholeheartedly agree (I’ve been recommending it to everyone to pick up). This is a five-star read and I haven’t read one of those in a while. Giovanna is not only an incredible writer but a fantastic mum and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

February Favourites!

It’s come around again it’s time for my monthly favourites!

Books: 

This month I’ve read a fair amount (although maybe not as much as I’d like) and three books have stood out to me. The first was sent to me by Diamond Press, it’s called March and is a graphic novel written by John Lewis, a key figure in the Civil Rights movement, this is the first in a three-part series and I can’t wait to read the rest. Secondly is Here We Are, I reviewed this (catch it here) and raved about it because it is an incredible book, full of inclusion, intelligence as well as being fun! And finally, although I haven’t finished reading it, I am in love with Giovanna Fletchers newest book about being a mother. It’s not something I personally know anything about, being a mother, but I love the way Gi writes (I found her on her Youtube channel)  and it makes me feel better about the prospect of being a mother in the future.

Music: 

This month was very Busted orientated, earlier this month Abbie and I went to see Busted live (again) on their Midnight Driver tour. I’ve listened to the album a lot this month it’s got an 80s vibe to it and a lot of great and upbeat tracks. Ed Sheeran also dropped a few songs this month which I’ve been obsessively listening to (while getting ready to go see him on tour later in the year). Last but not least two bands I’ve been listening to are Lower Than Atlantis and their new album Safe in Sound, I’ve also been listening to a band called Broadside thanks to my lovely boyfriend Ali.

Shop: 

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After the move it’s been a quite quiet month in terms of any spending. Instead, I’ve been doing a lot of window shopping, particularly in Oasis’s where I’ve fallen in love with their latest pieces!

Watching:

Yep, my viewing has been a little dark and very Netflix orientated this month. I wanted to start a new series and had heard great things about How To Get Away With Murder, so I started to watch. I also noticed that The People vs O J Simpson had been added, which I loved when it aired last year. Hopefully next months viewing will be little lighter!

General: 

I’ve really embraced Lush baths to ease the pain of my back which has produced some beautiful colours! I also received some lovely gifts after coming home including a swear word colouring book and flowers! On the subject of food I’ve been loving Tetley Boost teas and getting into my own baking! I’m also loving the new Powerpuff Girls range that Primark are embracing at the moment, I LOVED the Powerpuff Girls growing up so my Mum treated me to these. And finally my first gym session post injection, I was so proud of myself- read about it here.

What have your favourite things been this month? Any recommendations? Let me know in the comments below!

Book Review: A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy – Sue Klebold

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On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives.
For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan s mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently?

These are questions that Klebold has grappled with every day since the Columbine tragedy. In”A Mother’s Reckoning,” she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible.

When you go into a book like this, you expect to face difficult questions, questions of morals and honestly, someone to blame. A lot of people were quick in the days after Columbine to point the finger at the parents of the shooters, after all they should have known, right? In the years since the shooting, Sue turned down many book deals, she didn’t feel she could speak honestly about the son she still loved despite what he did, as well as being in many long legal battles. This book needs to be read with an open mind and with the reminder that this is a mother who has had to try and deal with not only the death of her son, but also the aftermath of what he has done.

I was completely fascinated with the idea of this book, because to my knowledge it hasn’t been done before. We never think of the parents of the shooters, which is understandable, we want to think of the victims, their families. To see Sue’s perspective opened my eyes to the aftermath of these events when the news crews leave and a community is left to pick up the pieces and look at people in a new light.

Sue doesn’t shy away from the darkness and depression that she felt, the hopelessness and self-hatred both her and her husband felt in the years following the shooting. She also is completely honest about her feelings towards her son. At times it is hard to read, she is a mother, of course, she would try to see the good in her son and try and find every plausible reason he is innocent. Sometimes you want to shout through the book, but it is at this point that you will need to look at the bigger picture, I admit I struggled with this throughout the book. By the time I finished, I understood as much as I could the emotional journey she had gone through.

It’s definitely a tough and complex read, which Sue addresses throughout but it is also educational. Sue has done a lot of research, contacted experts and looked over every shred of evidence she could, really to try and understand what went wrong with her son. In light of this Sue wanted to understand mental health, start conversations as she truly believes that this is the only way to prevent further violent acts, that parents should know the warning signs of depressive behaviours. She talks in an educated manner about suicide, mental illness, what it’s like to not know someone is suffering. These topics are all covered with honesty, intelligence and care.

I gave this 4/5 stars. It was a particularly interesting, challenging and emotional book and I can only applaud Sue for speaking out. Some will, of course, question whether Sue should have written this book, whether anyone should feel sorry for her. They’re valid questions, particularly in light of the victims and their families, but all I can say is you have to read it to understand. Sue want’s to bring education and attention to the world in regards to mental health, because she does feel guilt and pain about what her son did, but she’s going to fight for the rest of her life to try and help those in need.

 

Copy received via Netgalley for review

Feminist Fridays: Career AND Family- Why I Refuse to Choose.

We all know that the dreaded question is asked of all women at a certain age, when are you going to have children (it’s never are you going to have children, but that’s for another post). Recently I was having a conversation which somehow turned to me and my partner having children in the future. I was slightly caught off guard because it’s not something we’re planning on for a few years, until were both settled with secure incomes and our own home (we’re currently living with family while we get on our feet after university). Even so, our company were adamant that I would be leaving work and my career to care and raise our children, while he goes and earns the money to support us.

Yeah. You read that right.

I couldn’t hide my shock at being told this. When asked why I have to be the one to stay at home/ give the most care I was simply told it’s because I’d give birth to them. Well…that’s what maternity leave is for. It simply wasn’t accepted that my partner, who I’d trust with my life, should look after our children, nor should I be the one to support us (even though we’ve discussed this in the past and will make the decision  .

I’m one of those women who has known she’s wanted children since her teens. I love kids, I love my friends kids and I’d love to be a Mum someday. BUT that’s not all I want to be, I love my job and I’m excited about my career and where it can go for me. I want to be able to travel and work my butt off in something that I’m passionate about. Neither of these are either/or situations. I’m lucky that I work with two wonderful women who have balanced a child and a job.

I feel like there are too many people who think that gender stereotypes are the way it should be and the way it should stay. We’re in 2016! As I’ve said time and time again Feminism is about making a choice. My Mum, Aunt and Nanna all raised their kids at home and that was their choice and it made them happy. I know people who’s Mum’s worked full time, who worked part time. None of these situations did their children any harm. We guilt mothers who go out to work, because in societies eyes once you’re a mother that’s your only identity. Likewise mothers who stay at home to raise their children are deemed ‘unfeminist’ by some, which is total BS. We need to make sure women have the right to choose in both a social and economic way.

I’m not planning on having a child for years but I know right now that having a child won’t automatically stop my career. I fully intend to work, because ultimately I’ve worked hard and in the next few years I intend to work even harder. There should be choice for women AND men. I refuse to chose between one and the other. I refuse to put the pressure on my partner to be the breadwinner and refuse to be pressured myself.

Have you had similar things said to you?