In eight books out this year, feminists take on motherhood—from the pregnancy industrial complex to postpartum depression—and open up about their own mothers, the demands of family life and the power of intergenerational feminism.
In an anthology featuring writers spanning communities, countries and cultures, Deborah Santana gives voice to the powerful role our families—and especially our mothers—play in our lives as women and as feminists. Inside the collection, trailblazing activists and writers open up about the intergenerational relationships that shaped their identities and their work in tender and brave poetry and prose. As the diversity of their voices comes together, readers acutely recognize the importance finding home can have in our journeys toward building a better world—and within the pages, we find an emanating sense of gratitude for the global family we form collectively that sustains, nourishes and empowers us to keep fighting for it.
Jacqueline Rose has a lot of questions about mothers—but perhaps the biggest, and the one at the heart of her compelling new book, lies in the gap between our so-called worship of mothers and our swift desire to punish them for desiring lives of their own. In Mothers, Rose explores the evolution of cultural notions of motherhood and mothers that still permeate our own understandings of family and gender, taking us from Ancient Greece to present-day UK to illustrate the double-binds and double-standards mothers face now and have long faced in the eyes of their contemporaries and their communities. Along the way, she unearths the stories of women across millennia who are imperfect and human—and reveals how the paradoxes of motherhood have long been engrained into our social DNA.
Molly Caro May’s first pregnancy was challenging—and her medical trials and tribulations triggered a “postpartum awakening.” In her memoir, she details her own experiences—as a mother and a child—in raw and relatable prose, bringing to light the unique feminine power of parenthood and the ways in which misogyny has attempted to displace not just mothers, but all women, from their bodies and themselves.
When Angela Garbes was pregnant, she had a lot of questions about pregnancy—and doctors didn’t always have the answers. In her debut book, she uncovers them, taking readers on a journey through medical sexism and the pregnancy-industrial complex and illuminating the myriad ways sexism shapes the experiences of pregnant women and mothers. A seasoned journalist, she digs deep into the troubling ways gender impacts the information and resources women are offered during pregnancy—and carves out new paths for the moms-to-be tired of the judgement and expectation cooked into their visits to the doctor and the delivery room.
Writer and editor Jessica Friedmann’s first published collection is a memoir in essays that bridges the political with the deeply personal, detailing not just her own struggle with postpartum depression but the ways in which our cultural understandings of gender—and the misogyny which shapes them—have cast shame and scripted stigma onto mothers like her. In Things That Helped, released last year in Australia but debuting in the U.S. with its April release this year, she attempts to transform the dialogue around a challenge that one in seven mothers will face—pushing readers to see postpartum depression not as a defect, but as a standard part of motherhood.
When Jan Redford’s partner dies climbing in an avalanche, she finds solace in a relationship with another alpinist—and then, swiftly, finds herself facing down motherhood. As her new husband seeks out adventure, she struggles with losing her independence within the confines of being a wife and mother, and she ultimately decides to embark on her own expedition toward a life of her own. In her stirring and surprisingly light-hearted memoir, she recounts the challenges and dangers she encountered navigating her way back toward motherhood and finding her way home—this time, on her own terms.
With her trademark humor, Kimberly Harrington tackles the nitty-gritty aspects of motherhood in Amateur Hour. More concerned with brutal honesty than keeping up appearances, she bears all in frank prose covering everything from the senior pictures to her deep-seated desire for more family fights—and isn’t afraid to dish it out, either. Required reading for Mother’s Day (and every subsequent day after) is her piece demanding that mothers be given more than one day each year to be celebrated.
Tony and Academy Award-winning actor Marcia Gay Haden celebrates her mother’s life, and its impact on her own, in The Seasons of My Mother. Written as a Mother’s Day gift for her own mother, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Haden traces their interwoven lives in a series of essays centered on ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging that her mother loved. In her memoir, she claims their shared memories and records their shared histories—a touching and illuminating effort that results in a resonant and powerful testament to the everlasting bonds of motherhood and family.