Farley takes creative license to set the scene and craft conversations, a method that creates an extremely readable narrative. She goes beyond Ann’s story to include the voices of Black, Indigenous, Latina, and poor white women forcibly sterilized throughout modern history—segments that very well could have been expanded into their own book. Given the allegations of forced sterilization at ICE detention centers in 2020, this book is as timely as ever. A gripping tale about the atrocity of systematic reproductive control.
Expertly blending biography and history, and using the life of Ann Cooper Hewitt as a backdrop, Farley has created an absorbing biography effectively explaining how the legacy of eugenics still persists today. Hewitt’s story will engage anyone interested in women’s history.
... intriguing ... Farley sketches the history of the eugenics movement and fears over the emergence of the 'New Woman' in early 20th-century America, but the narrative is at its most immersive when delving into the exploits of Cooper Hewitt’s mother, Maryon, who got rich by marrying well and often ... Later chapters covering more recent cases of women sterilized without their informed consent feel more obligatory than essential, but Farley sets a brisk pace and persuasively reimagines the dynamic between Ann and Maryon. This is an eye-opening portrait of an obscure yet fascinating case.
Throughout, Farley maintains the focus on Ann and her family. While she does not provide a comprehensive discussion of eugenics, the eye-opening story of the family is a concrete example of lamentable policies that continue to shape the reproductive rights of women ... A disturbing yet thought-provoking tale of family strife and ethically unsound medical practice.