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An Excellent Choice: Panic and Joy on My Solo Path to Motherhood

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From the author of She Left Me The Gun, an explosive and hilarious memoir about the exceptional and life-changing decision to conceive a child on one's own via assisted reproduction When British journalist, memoirist, and New York-transplant Emma Brockes decides to become pregnant, she quickly realizes that, being single, 37, and in the early stages of a same-sex relation From the author of She Left Me The Gun, an explosive and hilarious memoir about the exceptional and life-changing decision to conceive a child on one's own via assisted reproduction When British journalist, memoirist, and New York-transplant Emma Brockes decides to become pregnant, she quickly realizes that, being single, 37, and in the early stages of a same-sex relationship, she's going to have to be untraditional about it. From the moment she decides to stop "futzing" around, have her eggs counted, and "get cracking"; through multiple trials of IUI, which she is intrigued to learn can be purchased in bulk packages, just like Costco; to the births of her twins, which her girlfriend gamely documents with her iPhone and selfie-stick, Brockes is never any less than bluntly and bracingly honest about her extraordinary journey to motherhood. She quizzes her friends on the pros and cons of personally knowing one's sperm donor, grapples with esoteric medical jargon and the existential brain-melt of flipping through donor catalogues and conjures with the politics of her Libertarian OB/GYN--all the while exploring the cultural circumstances and choices that have brought her to this point. Brockes writes with charming self-effacing humor about being a British woman undergoing fertility treatment in the US, poking fun at the starkly different attitude of Americans. Anxious that biological children might not be possible, she wonders, should she resent society for how it regards and treats women who try and fail to have children? Brockes deftly uses her own story to examine how and why an increasing number of women are using fertility treatments in order to become parents--and are doing it solo. Bringing the reader every step of the way with mordant wit and remarkable candor, Brockes shares the frustrations, embarrassments, surprises, and, finally, joys of her momentous and excellent choice.


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From the author of She Left Me The Gun, an explosive and hilarious memoir about the exceptional and life-changing decision to conceive a child on one's own via assisted reproduction When British journalist, memoirist, and New York-transplant Emma Brockes decides to become pregnant, she quickly realizes that, being single, 37, and in the early stages of a same-sex relation From the author of She Left Me The Gun, an explosive and hilarious memoir about the exceptional and life-changing decision to conceive a child on one's own via assisted reproduction When British journalist, memoirist, and New York-transplant Emma Brockes decides to become pregnant, she quickly realizes that, being single, 37, and in the early stages of a same-sex relationship, she's going to have to be untraditional about it. From the moment she decides to stop "futzing" around, have her eggs counted, and "get cracking"; through multiple trials of IUI, which she is intrigued to learn can be purchased in bulk packages, just like Costco; to the births of her twins, which her girlfriend gamely documents with her iPhone and selfie-stick, Brockes is never any less than bluntly and bracingly honest about her extraordinary journey to motherhood. She quizzes her friends on the pros and cons of personally knowing one's sperm donor, grapples with esoteric medical jargon and the existential brain-melt of flipping through donor catalogues and conjures with the politics of her Libertarian OB/GYN--all the while exploring the cultural circumstances and choices that have brought her to this point. Brockes writes with charming self-effacing humor about being a British woman undergoing fertility treatment in the US, poking fun at the starkly different attitude of Americans. Anxious that biological children might not be possible, she wonders, should she resent society for how it regards and treats women who try and fail to have children? Brockes deftly uses her own story to examine how and why an increasing number of women are using fertility treatments in order to become parents--and are doing it solo. Bringing the reader every step of the way with mordant wit and remarkable candor, Brockes shares the frustrations, embarrassments, surprises, and, finally, joys of her momentous and excellent choice.

30 review for An Excellent Choice: Panic and Joy on My Solo Path to Motherhood

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I enjoyed this book- but I have to say, there will be people who really dislike this book, both the very left and the very right. It is a memoir, not just of a woman's decision to have children (how conservative), relationship status be damned (how liberal!), but also of a type of adulthood that is currently more reality than the "adulthood" of the past that meant an early marriage, stable career, and early parenthood. Adulthood, in today's world, increasingly means long term friendships becomin I enjoyed this book- but I have to say, there will be people who really dislike this book, both the very left and the very right. It is a memoir, not just of a woman's decision to have children (how conservative), relationship status be damned (how liberal!), but also of a type of adulthood that is currently more reality than the "adulthood" of the past that meant an early marriage, stable career, and early parenthood. Adulthood, in today's world, increasingly means long term friendships becoming closer than family, free-lance work offering more privilege and more problems than previous work schedules, and the choice of relationships and children becoming less and less intertwined or linear. I enjoyed Brockes wit as a writer, and her comparisons between British and American healthcare (both systematic and cultural). She is aware of her privileges, and her relationship to L is....well, both interesting to read about and deeply confounding to me (a very single person.) Overall, worth a read, and it's quick, just know, to paraphrase loosely Brockes, books about parenting makes everyone feel a little fascist. For what it's worth, if I had a physical copy, I would put this on the shelf next to Dan Savage's "The Kid."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Becky Loader

    I would like to know Emma Brockes. She is a woman who knows herself and takes action on her own behalf. Her quest to become a mother is serious and humorous. I must admit I laughed out loud a couple of times, as she found her way down this difficult path.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sally Stieglitz

    What an engaging read! In this memoir, British journalist and New York transplant Emma Brockes describes her emotional and twisty path to becoming a single mother. Finding herself both at the upper limit of her fertile years and the early days of a relationship with a new partner (herself a new mother), Brockes is forced to confront the necessity of deciding without delay if she 1) wants to be a mother, 2) wants to co-parent, and 3) is willing to go through the physical, emotional, and financial What an engaging read! In this memoir, British journalist and New York transplant Emma Brockes describes her emotional and twisty path to becoming a single mother. Finding herself both at the upper limit of her fertile years and the early days of a relationship with a new partner (herself a new mother), Brockes is forced to confront the necessity of deciding without delay if she 1) wants to be a mother, 2) wants to co-parent, and 3) is willing to go through the physical, emotional, and financial upheaval of fertility treatments and artificial insemination. What follows is a lengthy journey of self examination, societal examination, and relationship examination, all illustrated by real life obstacles and triumphs. I particularly enjoyed Brockes’ wry observation on the differences between the British and American attitudes and expectations for health care (we don’t come out shining, but neither do they). Brockes spends a great deal of time on her relationship with her partner, each raising a separate family in the same apartment building, but not co-parenting. They have found a solution that makes sense for them but Brockes’ apparent need to repeatedly explain it comes across as a self soothing exercise for the author. Also engaging were Brockes’ insights into the antagonistic attitudes towards all women’s choices: early parenting, late parenting, single parenting, having one child, having several, having multiples. The thought that all choices are subject to varying criticism rings very true to me. Book club suitability: Very engaging read, better as a recommendation to a friend than a book club selection as nothing is as fraught as a discussion with friends about having children/not having children, a fact well acknowledged by the author.

  4. 5 out of 5

    David

    recaps the journey of her late-30s decision to have a child solo via assisted reproduction -- the child ends up being twin girls. Major sub-themes include missing her deceased Mom; ambiguous status of her relationship with partner who is also the Mom of a toddler son and ultimately lives upstairs from the author; New York city competitive-everything culture; and ways in which the USA differs from author's native England. obviously a matter of taste, but i could have used more on what held her an recaps the journey of her late-30s decision to have a child solo via assisted reproduction -- the child ends up being twin girls. Major sub-themes include missing her deceased Mom; ambiguous status of her relationship with partner who is also the Mom of a toddler son and ultimately lives upstairs from the author; New York city competitive-everything culture; and ways in which the USA differs from author's native England. obviously a matter of taste, but i could have used more on what held her and partner back from just entirely blending their families, given how much they did share, and less on the England-is-like-this/America-is-like-that stuff [ex: i've heard of the National Health Service and know the broad outlines of how it differs -- it's not as though she used to live on the South Pole at an experimental research station]. She's funny, and some of her rants were engaging, plus of course babies are fascinating. Subtitle sums up a lot -- she recaptures nicely the simultaneous thrill and fear involved [you're going to let the baby/ies come home? with me/us? and no health care provider? why?]. nevertheless, it became a bit of a slog for me to get through. I sometimes say books should have been magazine articles, and that's probably unrealistic here, but instead of 287 pages maybe 150 would do. Particularly in the long stretch about mechanics of trying to get pregnant I found myself skimming and considering stopping altogether. Only so many ways to say it's expensive, insurance logistics are tedious and frustrating, and the process is uncertain to work and therefore frustrating until it isn't. Some of the blow-by-blow of medical apptmts could IMO have been cut.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    The subject of this was fascinating (a woman who decides to have a baby on her own), but I didn't find the author to be very likeable. I also didn't find it as relatable that her girlfriend already had a baby on her own, and the two of them helped each other through the process. While I understand this is autobiographical, it didn't made the whole process seem like not as much of a "solo path" when both girlfriends were doing the same thing (even if it wasn't simultaneously). However, this was a The subject of this was fascinating (a woman who decides to have a baby on her own), but I didn't find the author to be very likeable. I also didn't find it as relatable that her girlfriend already had a baby on her own, and the two of them helped each other through the process. While I understand this is autobiographical, it didn't made the whole process seem like not as much of a "solo path" when both girlfriends were doing the same thing (even if it wasn't simultaneously). However, this was a solid realistic view at what the path to solo motherhood would entail.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Madalene

    What a pleasure to find this book so funny to read! The author's sense of comedic timing was well done, and while this story might not be of interest to everyone (British journalist moves to U.S., has a Tim Burton/Helena Bonham Carter type living situation with her partner, and decides she wants to have a baby despite being shocked at the U.S. medical system and how one pays for care); it has plenty of ups and downs that were enjoyable to read. I look forward to her next book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    British ex-pat living in NYC, working as a freelance journalist, in a committed but firmly defined (as-in, we love each other but need to live separately) relationship, wrote a whole book about her choice to become a single parent. She describes her decision-making and all the bumps along the way. Her writing is smart, clear, funny and highly relatable. She seems like a really fun person to know.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nikki Benecke

    honest and hilarious I love the author’s candor about her life before kids, about her ambivalence about actually becoming pregnant, about her complicated relationship, etc. At times I found the timeline in the book hard to follow, but other than that, i thought it quite good.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alison G.

    An excellent book. Emma Brockes writes with extraordinary clarity and honesty about a subject that is near and dear to more and more womens’ hearts. I felt as though she were writing my experience. Grateful to have read this book. I want her to write more! I am recommending far and wide.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cari

    Fabulous memoir. I loved the writing, how I got to know the author, her country, and her family. It was laugh-out-loud funny in parts, and seriously poignant in others. Thanks to Edelweiss for the early copy.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Isabelle Solal

    A book that treats a difficult subject with a rare and refreshing mix of levity and honesty. As Brockes notes, every solo mom’s journey is different, just as every parent’s path to parenthood is different - but this memoir helped me revisit and rethink my own experience.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kayo

    Nice! Interesting and well done.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mary Mitchell

    A well-written and fast-moving story of a journalist's turbulent path to single parenthood, this memoir chronicles the author's initial fear, indecision, frustration and eventual joy along the way.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Leanne Ellis

    Well-written and honest. I think having children was good for the author's narcissism and stubbornness.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tena

    I won this ARC in a GOODREADS giveaway!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marissa

    Fascinating book on how one woman chose to become a mother through sperm donation, and the counter-cultural choices that lead her through her journey.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kate Peters

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gréta Barták

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anna M Cherry

  21. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Bell

  22. 4 out of 5

    CR

  23. 5 out of 5

    Clara

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sondra

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kira

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kris

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

  28. 4 out of 5

    Annie Wright

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kate

  30. 5 out of 5

    mrs eileen crowley dorman

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