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“Laura Jean Baker has written a beautiful and brave memoir of motherhood and its discontents, which are indistinguishable from its joys. This is a warmly intimate yet intellectually provocative personal document of originality and considerable charm.” —Joyce Carol Oates With the birth of her first child, soon-to-be professor Laura Jean Baker finds herself electrified by oxyt “Laura Jean Baker has written a beautiful and brave memoir of motherhood and its discontents, which are indistinguishable from its joys. This is a warmly intimate yet intellectually provocative personal document of originality and considerable charm.” —Joyce Carol Oates With the birth of her first child, soon-to-be professor Laura Jean Baker finds herself electrified by oxytocin, the “love hormone”—the first effective antidote to her lifelong depression. Over the next eight years, her “oxy” cravings, and her family, only grow—to the dismay of her husband, Ryan, a freelance public defender. As her reckless baby–making threatens her family’s middle–class existence, Baker identifies more and more with Ryan’s legal clients, often drug–addled fellow citizens of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Is she any less desperate for her next fix? Baker is in an impossible bind: The same drive that sustains her endangers her family; the cure is also the disease. She explores this all–too–human paradox by threading her story through those of her local counterparts who’ve run afoul of the law—like Rob McNally, the lovable junkie who keeps resurfacing in Ryan’s life. As Baker vividly reports on their alleged crimes—theft, kidnapping, opioid abuse, and even murder—she unerringly conjures tenderness for the accused, yet increasingly questions her own innocence. Baker’s ruthless self–interrogation makes this her personal affidavit—her sworn statement, made for public record if not a court of law. With a wrenching ending that compels us to ask whether Baker has fallen from maternal grace, this is an extraordinary addition to the literature of motherhood.


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“Laura Jean Baker has written a beautiful and brave memoir of motherhood and its discontents, which are indistinguishable from its joys. This is a warmly intimate yet intellectually provocative personal document of originality and considerable charm.” —Joyce Carol Oates With the birth of her first child, soon-to-be professor Laura Jean Baker finds herself electrified by oxyt “Laura Jean Baker has written a beautiful and brave memoir of motherhood and its discontents, which are indistinguishable from its joys. This is a warmly intimate yet intellectually provocative personal document of originality and considerable charm.” —Joyce Carol Oates With the birth of her first child, soon-to-be professor Laura Jean Baker finds herself electrified by oxytocin, the “love hormone”—the first effective antidote to her lifelong depression. Over the next eight years, her “oxy” cravings, and her family, only grow—to the dismay of her husband, Ryan, a freelance public defender. As her reckless baby–making threatens her family’s middle–class existence, Baker identifies more and more with Ryan’s legal clients, often drug–addled fellow citizens of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Is she any less desperate for her next fix? Baker is in an impossible bind: The same drive that sustains her endangers her family; the cure is also the disease. She explores this all–too–human paradox by threading her story through those of her local counterparts who’ve run afoul of the law—like Rob McNally, the lovable junkie who keeps resurfacing in Ryan’s life. As Baker vividly reports on their alleged crimes—theft, kidnapping, opioid abuse, and even murder—she unerringly conjures tenderness for the accused, yet increasingly questions her own innocence. Baker’s ruthless self–interrogation makes this her personal affidavit—her sworn statement, made for public record if not a court of law. With a wrenching ending that compels us to ask whether Baker has fallen from maternal grace, this is an extraordinary addition to the literature of motherhood.

30 review for The Motherhood Affidavits: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Leona

    This is one of the most authentic books in nonfiction I've read in the last five years (and I hold an MFA in nonfiction writing). There is nuance growing out of this book's spine - intricacies of the U.S. legal system and problems that arise in courtrooms and prisons, the imperfections of parents that many parents would deny apply to them, politics within all levels of the education system in Wisconsin (the author's place of residence), and raw, honest life stories of the author's experiences in This is one of the most authentic books in nonfiction I've read in the last five years (and I hold an MFA in nonfiction writing). There is nuance growing out of this book's spine - intricacies of the U.S. legal system and problems that arise in courtrooms and prisons, the imperfections of parents that many parents would deny apply to them, politics within all levels of the education system in Wisconsin (the author's place of residence), and raw, honest life stories of the author's experiences in parenthood, marriage, mental illness, and more. With gripping storytelling, attentive and strategic metaphors, and extremely vivid descriptions, there's no doubt anyone else might get as sucked into reading this book as I did. This is a book for feminist readers, although Baker questions herself many times throughout whether her feminism is valid because of choices she makes or beliefs she holds. Baker isn't holding back on questioning herself, possibly to her own fault based on other reviews I've read. She doesn't hold back on her experiences, her knowledge base, or pace. Like the runner she is, she moves quickly in writing, and she's not dumbing it down for anyone. I appreciate that. The diverse resonance of this book for all sorts of readers is undeniable. This book appeals to any number of academic readers/writers, mental health and women's health workers/patients, parents, and adults who are someone's children. There is nothing more human than imperfection, which Baker illustrates time and time again in her debut memoir, and for which she judges herself for more than she judges anyone else.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Lynn

    The fact that this memoir is not just about motherhood/childhood or not just about the legal system is perhaps its greatest, among its many, strengths. The tension the reader feels when oscillating between these two seemingly disparate topics, as well as the tension between the author and the reader, makes the experience of reading The Motherhood Affidavits more accurate and truer to the lives we actually live than reading something that does all your work for you and then ties it up neatly in a The fact that this memoir is not just about motherhood/childhood or not just about the legal system is perhaps its greatest, among its many, strengths. The tension the reader feels when oscillating between these two seemingly disparate topics, as well as the tension between the author and the reader, makes the experience of reading The Motherhood Affidavits more accurate and truer to the lives we actually live than reading something that does all your work for you and then ties it up neatly in a bow, leaving you wondering from whose life a story like that could have possibly been drawn. Some readers will undoubtedly be intimidated by both author Laura Jean Baker's openness and the amount of credit she gives her readers. This is an author who not only values, but is extremely faithful to her details and descriptions, the imagery with which she conveys them ... an author who - one can tell after reading only the Prologue - trusts that readers may be up for putting in just a fraction of the work that she clearly has. I haven't read a book in a long time that has affected me the way this one has. At times the author comes across so opinionated it feels like a one-sided argument - I caught myself thinking "I have tattoos!" "My daughter weaned herself!" - and then having to remind myself that I was arguing with a book that is in effect a testament to the singular way in which each one of us experiences the world can change at least our own world - if not the world-at-large - for the better. If you are really only into "feel-good" books, it's probably not the book for you. If you are ready to go along on a ride with a fully capable author telling her own story, and are not afraid to get real, it probably is.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Janelle Bailey

    56: The Motherhood Affidavits by Laura Jean Baker...in preparation for the Wisconsin Book Festival. I certainly appreciate and value the honesty with which Baker tells her own story. I also appreciate the humility present in much of the storytelling. There were situations with which I identified and even ideas I newly considered for myself, based on Baker's sharing--say of the possibility that pregnancy and childbearing provided a positive "drug" of some kind for me. I'd just never thought of it 56: The Motherhood Affidavits by Laura Jean Baker...in preparation for the Wisconsin Book Festival. I certainly appreciate and value the honesty with which Baker tells her own story. I also appreciate the humility present in much of the storytelling. There were situations with which I identified and even ideas I newly considered for myself, based on Baker's sharing--say of the possibility that pregnancy and childbearing provided a positive "drug" of some kind for me. I'd just never thought of it that way, that the actual oxytocin fueled me that way; I just know how tremendously happy I always was pregnant and then getting to be a mom...again (and still am, daily). And I was reminded, too, of the criticism I often felt--that she expresses, too--at choosing to have so many children. I never could have made the decision she ultimately did and found many of other differences as well. How we each got to "here" is surely different. But I also applaud her taking...making...the time to write this first book and to have made it a memoir. I still dream.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Concetta Kellough

    A philosophical book written by someone who is addicted to being pregnant because oxytocin, the hormone released in large quantities into pregnant women's bodies, makes her happy and gives her relief from her life-long struggle with depression. This addiction is a stress to her husband who struggles to pay the bills on his salary as a court appointed defense lawyer. Ms. Baker recounts some of her husband's clients and court cases, many of them drug addicts. She questions whether she is any diffe A philosophical book written by someone who is addicted to being pregnant because oxytocin, the hormone released in large quantities into pregnant women's bodies, makes her happy and gives her relief from her life-long struggle with depression. This addiction is a stress to her husband who struggles to pay the bills on his salary as a court appointed defense lawyer. Ms. Baker recounts some of her husband's clients and court cases, many of them drug addicts. She questions whether she is any different than these drug-addicted clients when her own addiction is causing chaos in her own life. The cases she describes are interesting as is the correlation between herself and her husband's clients. Ms. Baker's honesty concerning her home life is amazing. There are things she says that I just wouldn't put in writing for all the world to see. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to anyone who contemplates class differences.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    The writing makes for easy enough reading. The problem for me was the lack of focus. She writes about being a mother, how the pregnancy hormones help her depression. But then she writes more about her husband, who is a criminal defense lawyer. Then she writes about various offenders and how she feels about their crimes and the injustice within the system. By page 50, I was done. Without any clear focus, I had no interest in reading further.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

    Brilliantly conceived and deftly written, The Motherhood Affidavits is a uniquely powerful -- and memorable -- book. Simply calling it a "memoir" really doesn't do it justice, as it vividly weaves together Laura Jean Baker's experiences with those of her husband's hardscrabble legal clients. A read that is as gripping as it is provocative.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kayo

    Definitely not what I was expecting. It was interesting but different. Worth a read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    Darkly wonderful. I can't remember the last time I read a memoir where I felt the author so honestly exposed and examined her own frailties and failures. I never once doubted her love for her kids, but she's more honest than any mother I've ever spoken to about the dark side of things--and I don't mean dirty diapers and sleeplessness; she dares to discuss the narcissism, selfishness, violent feelings that can accompany motherhood. All of which are just markers of humanity, but we live in a socie Darkly wonderful. I can't remember the last time I read a memoir where I felt the author so honestly exposed and examined her own frailties and failures. I never once doubted her love for her kids, but she's more honest than any mother I've ever spoken to about the dark side of things--and I don't mean dirty diapers and sleeplessness; she dares to discuss the narcissism, selfishness, violent feelings that can accompany motherhood. All of which are just markers of humanity, but we live in a society that routinely de-humanizes mothers. The way she compares herself (a white, middle-class college professor) to her husband's extremely-down-on-their-luck clients is so brilliantly done, and again, just so honest. "There but for the grace of God go I" is a way of seeing the world we could use more of right about now. And for the record, this is also the best account I've read of what it really means to be (and to be married to) a working-class lawyer whose clients are not corporations looking to merge or go bankrupt, but people on the fringes of society whose literal last hope in this life is their attorney. She nailed it. (Thank you Corey Preston for buying me this book for my birthday.)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    This story is over an 8-year period from 2008 to 2016. On page 3, I became interested when I read about "motherhood pumped me up with such joy: the intimacy, the purposefulness...", I could relate to those same feelings. The descriptions make you feel a part of this family. It shows raising children and the life of a lawyer dealing with the changing laws and repeat criminals. The spotlight on being uninsured and being a deadbeat as synonymous- going bankrupt with raising children. How we give ev This story is over an 8-year period from 2008 to 2016. On page 3, I became interested when I read about "motherhood pumped me up with such joy: the intimacy, the purposefulness...", I could relate to those same feelings. The descriptions make you feel a part of this family. It shows raising children and the life of a lawyer dealing with the changing laws and repeat criminals. The spotlight on being uninsured and being a deadbeat as synonymous- going bankrupt with raising children. How we give everything when you have children. Breastfeeding is a version of self-medicating, there is no felling like it. We come from a container-within-a-container or egg to egg or mom to mom to mom... I loved the decisions of naming a child and the weight of that decision should carry. Being baffled by people who compare dogs and cats to children- it is not equal. I loved all of the motherhood speak!! That being said - it also has too much criminal talk. I do not know why that had to a part of this book. It is titled The Motherhood Affidavits- I thought it all be about motherhood. There was details bout crimes and criminals, but it was also broken up in pieces that has to pieced together to even understand the criminal's entire story. I would have enjoyed this book more with more flow and smoothness.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Steven Savage

    I picked up this book sort of randomly at a local bookstore after the "Fargo" reference on the cover caught my eye and I read the first two chapters in the store, completely forgetting about my coffee. It wasn't until I went to take a sip and had cold coffee hit my tongue - which I hate - to remind me to get up, by the book and keep reading it. It was the small time crime aspect that hooked me in early, but the writing is so strong that it was a complete pleasure to read. The author's story is o I picked up this book sort of randomly at a local bookstore after the "Fargo" reference on the cover caught my eye and I read the first two chapters in the store, completely forgetting about my coffee. It wasn't until I went to take a sip and had cold coffee hit my tongue - which I hate - to remind me to get up, by the book and keep reading it. It was the small time crime aspect that hooked me in early, but the writing is so strong that it was a complete pleasure to read. The author's story is one that is very relatable to anyone who has had kids. The daily struggles we all have in America as we try to balance careers and children while we barely maintain a middle class existence. It's also a very unique angle for a memoir, as the author cleverly ties her life as a mother to the lives of her husband's (a freelance public defender) clients - each chapter a different client and each case a different mother figure is involved in some sort of crime whether she is the accused, a victim, a witness, or a codefendant. The author never judges these women or the criminals they associate with, but rather tries to understand the struggles that they too may be experiencing and empathizing with them. A book about empathy and middle class America and the truth that none of us are perfect parents, we're just trying to figure it all out.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cari

    I loved this book. Baker is a writer and professor, and her husband is a public defender. She draws parallels between their growing family, her need to continue having children, and the cases her husband works. Gritty, raw, and tender. I learned so much about Wisconsin as well. I keep thinking about the family and how they might be doing now.

  12. 4 out of 5

    AnnMarie Johnson

    It’s very weird to read a memoir set in your city. Even more so when the family lived mere blocks away. Makes or neighborhood out to be pretty terrible but no in the family agrees. On the other hand, none of us work in the legal system. I met the author, as we worked together at UW Oshkosh. I remember attending a reading she did. Oddly, no one appears in the book who I know (at least not by name, and not counting the former chancellor who isn’t named but I did know him).

  13. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Mcnulty

    Motherhood Motherhood is filled with joys and struggle. Laura Jean shows us all of it, the good and the bad. Well written and engaging, this book kept me interested from start to finish. It took a little bit for me to understand her style but once I did it was a fantastic read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Doyle

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Yes, this is a book about motherhood, but it’s more a book about the author’s husband, Ryan’s, criminal defense cases along with deviant and criminal happenings in her world. Part of me wants to judge you – I’ll try not to. It was well written but disjointed, jumping from subject matter to subject matter from one paragraph to the next. It was, however, very descriptive; I enjoyed ‘seeing’ in my mind’s eye, “Longhaired Tom cleans the building, his mop of twisted yarn sloshing murk across the floo Yes, this is a book about motherhood, but it’s more a book about the author’s husband, Ryan’s, criminal defense cases along with deviant and criminal happenings in her world. Part of me wants to judge you – I’ll try not to. It was well written but disjointed, jumping from subject matter to subject matter from one paragraph to the next. It was, however, very descriptive; I enjoyed ‘seeing’ in my mind’s eye, “Longhaired Tom cleans the building, his mop of twisted yarn sloshing murk across the floors.” There was excessive use of metaphors and similes—some good, some not so much. This attorney-husband and professor-wife team was definitely not the sharpest set of knives in the drawer when it came to finances, to buying a house they couldn’t afford, to ignoring health insurance red flags only to end up owing for their son’s birth, as well as in disciplining their kids. Troubling was the acceptance Ryan had in defending criminals he knew were guilty. Troubling also was the author’s apparent bragging about their own law-breaking escapades as youths. Even more troubling was the author craving child after child after child (five, in all) only to have an abortion with number six. It became a confessional after a while. Whether you did or didn’t steal baby wipes, cheat at poker, or had all the promiscuous public sex you say you did does not matter to me. I only wonder: you’re supposed to be a professional? What kind of professional? There is no professional bearing in this book. The book broadly covers the underbelly of the law. The writing is much like that of Sylvia Plath. The book is very poetic and very depressing. It’s the story of generations of messed up lives, Laura’s by her parents and generations before her, and Laura’s family by her. Disturbing is the author’s role as mother. I pity her for her ongoing battle with depression, and I sympathize. I ask, however: do you really want everyone to be exposed to the raw you? Do you really want to claim your parental ignorance in such a public forum? Do you really think this will benefit your mental state? Is this negative attention what you seek/need? I send my very best wishes to you, Ms Baker, to uncover peace and true happiness. I can’t imagine living your unhinged life. This family is a train wreck, a four-car pileup, a powder keg. This book gave me agita (the best Italian-American word there ever was). Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Susanna De

    A fantastic book, better (and very different) from the many other "motherhood" memoirs that have been flooding the bookshelves these days. Under the radar and most likely under appreciated.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher - A prodigious talent blazes onto the American literary scene with this bold, original memoir of her perilous—yet life-saving—addiction to childbearing With the birth of her first child, Laura Jean Baker found herself electrified by oxytocin, the “love drug”—the first effective antidote to her lifelong depression. Again and again over the next eight years, Baker finds herself I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher - A prodigious talent blazes onto the American literary scene with this bold, original memoir of her perilous—yet life-saving—addiction to childbearing With the birth of her first child, Laura Jean Baker found herself electrified by oxytocin, the “love drug”—the first effective antidote to her lifelong depression. Again and again over the next eight years, Baker finds herself craving the intense highs of childbearing—cravings that, she realizes, align her much more closely with her public defender husband’s desperate, drug-addled clients than with their middle-class peers. As Ryan’s roster of defendants increases, so too does their family—nearly to the point of collapse. Brilliantly crafted, impeccably written, intensely personal, The Motherhood Affidavits portrays a woman, a marriage, a family, caught in an impossible bind. Its heartbreaking resolution raises profound questions about whether we, as a society, are governed by morals or by laws—and whether either is an adequate measure of any one person’s ability to parent and capacity for love. This book is a very quick and very easy read, even for a speedreader like I am --- I was done in less than an hour.. I guess that you can get addicted to anything, even childbirth, but I found the writer to be a bit ... odd. I have heard about women who only orgasm in childbirth so this story of post-birth-high-addiction didn't shock me but the fact that her husband (whose life was spent defending addicted criminals) didn't just go out and get a vasectomy was ***beyond*** me. (especially a husband who was so addicted to checking out their money situation!) Would that have not been easier? Ditto getting her the drug, no matter how illegal it Maybe I am too much of a realist ??? And the ending? Who says it would not happen again?? Did I like the book? I guess --- but I cannot see myself talking about it or recommending it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sheryl

    This book was a tough one to review. I have all the respect in the world for the author's writing style and honesty in her memoir. That aside, her life choices were difficult to stomach. Baker and her husband live in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. She is a professor and he is a lawyer. She suffers from depression, but discovers that the oxytocin that comes from being pregnant and breastfeeding seems to treat her mental illness. She decides (her husband more reluctantly) to continue having children far past This book was a tough one to review. I have all the respect in the world for the author's writing style and honesty in her memoir. That aside, her life choices were difficult to stomach. Baker and her husband live in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. She is a professor and he is a lawyer. She suffers from depression, but discovers that the oxytocin that comes from being pregnant and breastfeeding seems to treat her mental illness. She decides (her husband more reluctantly) to continue having children far past what the couple can handle economically and mentally. Interwoven with their story of economic distress, marital difficulties, and children - lots of children - are stories of the law firm that her husband runs. Patronized mostly by people living on the fringe and involved in the ever-worsening drug problems that plague the Midwest, his firm struggles to break even, let alone to support their growing family. This story was frustrating, but as a memoir, it stands strong.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    I can imagine the acquisitions board meetings about this manuscript: "What is this book? What is it trying to do?" It's equal parts hand-wringing about motherhood, but also substantially about a criminal defense lawyer in a small city in Wisconsin. So...is it a book about parenting? Is it a book about social justice? And what is Baker trying to say, anyway? That mothers should own their decisions, or that their decisions are sometimes selfish? Or that public defenders should be celebrated for do I can imagine the acquisitions board meetings about this manuscript: "What is this book? What is it trying to do?" It's equal parts hand-wringing about motherhood, but also substantially about a criminal defense lawyer in a small city in Wisconsin. So...is it a book about parenting? Is it a book about social justice? And what is Baker trying to say, anyway? That mothers should own their decisions, or that their decisions are sometimes selfish? Or that public defenders should be celebrated for doing the hard work, or that other people should take a back seat to family? I was so confused reading this book, and part of me is like...maybe that makes Baker a brilliant memoirist? But also maybe it means Baker needed more focus.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Leanne Ellis

    Okay. The accounts of her husband's killings didn't mesh with Baker's account of her addiction to oxytocin. How did she resolve it? The organization was poor, jumping from case to personal history without clear contexts or references. Should have been one book on her husband's cases. Her own story wasn't interesting because she didn't go into any depth. How did she feel being derided by her so-called feminist but judgmental and anti-mother colleagues? How did her kids feel about having so many s Okay. The accounts of her husband's killings didn't mesh with Baker's account of her addiction to oxytocin. How did she resolve it? The organization was poor, jumping from case to personal history without clear contexts or references. Should have been one book on her husband's cases. Her own story wasn't interesting because she didn't go into any depth. How did she feel being derided by her so-called feminist but judgmental and anti-mother colleagues? How did her kids feel about having so many siblings? She could have gone more into her childhood and mental history as well. Good idea, poor execution.

  20. 4 out of 5

    **Kaycee**

    **1 star** I don’t get triggered. I’ve seen and read books where triggers are aforementioned so as to prepare the reader for potentially upsetting content. And I’ve read dark, disturbing books. But this. This book pissed me off. Here’s my trigger warning: If abortion bothers you, don’t read. If abortion gotten by educated, baby loving people bother you, don’t read. If abortions gotten after you’ve already 5 kids bother you, don’t read. If learning abortions made a woman feel EMPOWERED and NOT upse **1 star** I don’t get triggered. I’ve seen and read books where triggers are aforementioned so as to prepare the reader for potentially upsetting content. And I’ve read dark, disturbing books. But this. This book pissed me off. Here’s my trigger warning: If abortion bothers you, don’t read. If abortion gotten by educated, baby loving people bother you, don’t read. If abortions gotten after you’ve already 5 kids bother you, don’t read. If learning abortions made a woman feel EMPOWERED and NOT upset, bothers you, don’t read. And if abortions are gotten because the mother made a mistake on her calendar timing bother you, don’t read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    McKenzie

    From the moment I picked this book up I couldn’t put it down. It’s so incredibly raw, honest, captivating, and thought provoking, I didn’t want the book to end! As a current forensic psychologist student, I found this book to have hit the sweet spot of combining the shocking forensic cases with the heart wrenching mental health component all wrapped around the beautiful (sometimes brutal) and always honorable act of motherhood. This book quickly made its way to the favorites section of my librar From the moment I picked this book up I couldn’t put it down. It’s so incredibly raw, honest, captivating, and thought provoking, I didn’t want the book to end! As a current forensic psychologist student, I found this book to have hit the sweet spot of combining the shocking forensic cases with the heart wrenching mental health component all wrapped around the beautiful (sometimes brutal) and always honorable act of motherhood. This book quickly made its way to the favorites section of my library shelves, as I’m sure you will also find once you give it a read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    I had a hard time following this book! Is it really about motherhood or is it more about the criminal justice system? The author bounces back and forth so much between her thoughts on motherhood and her husbands criminal cases, sometimes in the same breath, that's it's hard to tell what point she is trying to get across. I received the book as an ARC and all I can honestly say is that I was disappointed.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jade Fang

    I love it. It has a hard ending. She tells you that in the description of the book, so just be ready for it. But it was really beautiful and honest about her life struggles and the people her husband defneds in her small midwest town. I live in a small town in the midwest and it felt honest and real. It felt like it was giving a voice to the people that live their lives in the midwest while struggling with financial difficulties or parenthood. I loved it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Judith

    I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book through NetGalley and the publisher. Laura Jean Bakers memoir is unexpected and interesting. The book is well written and very informative. This story is very depressing. It covers generations of messed up lives, Laura’s by her parents and generations before her, and Laura’s family by her. The author’s role as mother is very disturbing. It was a tough read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    The author's style is just too much. This would read well as an essay; maybe, if spaced out, it would real well as a series of essays. But trying to read this chapter to chapter just induces eye rolling. The premise feels forced. There are some great lines, interesting insights, but it's weighed down by the delivery.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carol Hollar-Zwick

    This memoir by Laura Jean Baker is brilliant and brutally honest. Baker is a writer and professor of English, and her husband is a criminal defense attorney. She examines the crimes of her husband's clients against herself as a mother with insight and wit. It can take a little patience to get into Baker's way of storytelling, but your patience is well rewarded.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Spenelli Speaks

    What an honest story... I found the juxtaposition between Baker's grappling with her own "addiction" of motherhood and the turmoil of her husband's criminal cases compelling. What an interesting life to live and story to tell. I don't know if I'd have the strength and courage to tell the world my secrets. Well done and thank you for sharing your life with us!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Trent Rozz

    There's an interesting story buried somewhere in this meandering, unfocused, barely-counts-as-a-story book, but as it is, it's too difficult to pay attention to random, disjointed slices of life that ramble on and on before concluding with no point.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Schultz

    Very tough read. Jumps around a lot and rambles on... fell asleep on numerous occasions! :( .. I love the theme of it and the sentiment... just can’t get into Laura’s writing style.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amie Wilson

    I had a hard time getting into this book at first and wasn't sure that I would finish it. As the story started to flow better it got more interesting. The author tried to weave stories of the clients her criminal defense lawyer husband represented with her own story. Often she seemed to be comparing her family, choices, and parenting skills with some of the women defendants. Sometimes it felt like a "there but for the grace of God go I " comparison and at other times I felt like she was using th I had a hard time getting into this book at first and wasn't sure that I would finish it. As the story started to flow better it got more interesting. The author tried to weave stories of the clients her criminal defense lawyer husband represented with her own story. Often she seemed to be comparing her family, choices, and parenting skills with some of the women defendants. Sometimes it felt like a "there but for the grace of God go I " comparison and at other times I felt like she was using the examples to show that she was doing okay as a mother. I think she was trying to paint an overall picture of the degrees of motherhood, but since there were only the criminal clients versus her family it didn't work the way it seemed to be intended. I also often had a hard time relating to the author/narrator. I too suffer from depression so I do understand trying to do whatever helps, but it almost seems like a form of insanity to keep having children (which the family did love and care for) to help stave off depression when they so clearly created more stress and financial worry. Her husband was more understanding and patient than I would be. I did see the connection between chemical addiction and her need to keep getting pregnant that the author was trying to draw, but it was hard to make that leap. I know addiction throws common sense out of the window. Perhaps the connection would have been easier if the science behind the endorphins created in pregnancy had been more solidly presented earlier in the book. As a society we have become accustomed to thinking about the effects of chemical addiction in the form of drugs and alcohol. This idea of being addicted to pregnancy is too new to relate to, I think. Lastly, the ending of the book was really disappointing! She tells us of the result of her last pregnancy (or at least the last one she writes about) but doesn't tell us how she copes without any more pregnancies, or how she managed her day to day life giving up this addiction. It seems that would be an important part of a book about any kind of addiction. The end was just depressing and didn't offer any kind of plan, follow-up or anything. Even just an Afterward included would have felt more complete. Overall, I kept reading because the concept was interesting and I did hope to find out if the author would be okay. I guess I just didn't get the satisfaction of knowing that.

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