A stressed family, an unplanned pregnancy, and a painful, if liberating, awakening from the author of the lauded memoir Her. This is the story of one woman's look at the difficult choices women in America are forced to make every day, in a nation where policies and a cultural war on women leave them without sufficient agency over their bodies, their futures, and even their hopes for their children's lives.
Parravani never lets us feel that a news item is anything less than terrifyingly, corporeally personal ... Frustratingly, the book feels as if it was rushed through in the midst of one. Evocative passages of language and story, lucid in context and nuance, slam the brakes at potholes in the narrative. Too many phrases are self-consciously poetic and tangled. At times, I wanted to pour Parravani a cup of tea or a third-trimester glass of wine and ask what she means, to tease out deeper analysis from the layers of emotion disguising it, dressing up half-thoughts in literary flourishes, or tossing a silk scarf of vanity over all she has so valuably bared ... But in the end, what she has to tell us, and what she is capable of making us feel, outweighs my irritation. What she has done is dissect the complexity of choice, how our own trauma and relationships inform it, as well as policy and access. She reveals the cost to us all when we fail to openly personalize the politics of abortion in America.
Ultimately, Parravani is interested in how individual women make reproductive choices in the face of complex geographical, medical and financial circumstances. In tangible and heartbreaking ways, she illustrates how each of these things impacts both her already born daughters and her soon-to-arrive son. In particular, the medical care she receives in West Virginia makes this reviewer cringe ... Parravani carefully situates her narrative in the context of reproductive journalism and research ... What emerges is not simply a portrait of Parravani’s difficult marriage, painful health issues and stressful financial burdens, but a complex picture of the unsayable circumstances that shape one woman’s relationship to her body, to her choice to have children or not, and to the cost of that decision. In saying the unsayable, Parravani is unflinching and brave, offering a sometimes brutal yet undeniably powerful testimony of the mundane and tragic conditions that influence many abortion-seeking women. Parravani does love and want her children, yet the world in which she lives makes it difficult to receive them with open arms without a high personal cost.
... luminous, complex ... proves a welcome addition to women’s narratives with its willingness to address poverty, sexuality, spirituality, and the difficult choices women are forced to make when navigating oppressive systems ... In a time when the wars waged on women’s sexual bodies are happening in multiple, intersecting ways, especially through individual organizations and agencies’ attempts to stop women from asking for or receiving what they are legally allowed to request, Parravani’s story is cautionary and a call to action; as personal as it is political.