Monday, August 31, 2009

Book review, part 2

I recently finished reading Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein. Unlike other IF books, the author and her writing was already familiar to me. Many years ago she did a study of early adolescent girls and their experiences in middle school. Several years later my mom's book club decided to read Orenstein's book about that research, Schoolgirls. As I was just getting interested in education, they invited me to read the book and join their group. As it turns out, I was in middle school when she did her research. Through reading about the experiences of these girls who were my age and my growing passion for education really connected me to the author.

So when I learned that she wrote a book about IF, I had to read it. And it did not disappoint. Orenstein is a feminist who, in addition to researching girls' schooling experiences, also has written about the difficulties professional women face in the work/life balance. Parts of her book deal with her conflicted feelings about both believing women should not have to make professional sacrifices while at the same time going to great lengths to conceive. She describes fighting for women's right to not be defined by their uterus while she is wondering if her dedication to her career meant she lost her chance to be a mother. I also identify with her frustration that she has been able to achieve everything else she set her mind to but pregnancy.

I would recommend this book to anyone in the ALI community. Through her journey, she experienced three miscarriages, several IVFs (including one with donor eggs), and went through the adoption process. I'm sure there is much we can all identify with.

I would not, however, recommend this book to those not in the ALI community as a way to gain insight into what we experience. Orenstein's journey, while touching on many different aspects of ALI, also conforms to the myth that if you just relax, not try so hard, or look into adoption, you'll get pregnant. Her several attempts with IVF all failed, but then she would get pregnant while on a break or while filling out adoption papers. I don't think this detracts from the story she has to tell, and she did not write it to highlight this fact, but I couldn't help but notice it.

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