A feat of diligent research and, better yet, blazing argument ... Each chapter of Without Children is vivid and informative enough to fascinate in its own right, but by the end its strands have braided into a broader thesis ... For an apologia for women without children, Heffington’s book is surprisingly silent when it comes to the question of agency ... Then again, her point is that the vast majority of women do not feel they have any choice.
Impeccably researched ... Without Children isn’t exactly the full-on celebration of the child-free lifestyle that some readers might be looking for. But it does thankfully shift the focus away from all the blame, shame and name-calling to advocate for a deeper look into the reasons why so many women bow out of motherhood in the first place.
From the outset, she exposes the entangled forces of circumstance and decision that have led some women not to have children. In doing so, she offers a way of moving beyond motherhood as an overdetermined function of personal choice, and of an identity politics so profound and pervasive that it positions mothers and childless women at opposite ends of a spectrum.
Provocative and well researched, this book offers compassionate insight into the history and predicaments of women who have embraced the 'never... uncommon and [now] increasingly common' childless life.
Incisive ... Though women who make the choice to have children may find Heffington’s approach antagonistic, she effectively blends statistical data and personal histories to counter the notion that the issue is a purely modern one, and to shift the focus from individual preferences and challenges to systemic societal failures. This is a cogent and well-supported polemic.