*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Author: Sheila Heti
Publisher: Knopf Canada
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Synopsis from Goodreads:
After the tumult of her 20s, the narrator of Sheila Heti’s new novel finds herself living a life into which she could bring a child. She’s with a man who has promised his support if she decides she wants to be a mother, “but you have to be sure.” Motherhood chronicles her struggle, under pressure from friends, culture and time, and seeking answers from family, strangers, mysticism and chance, to make a wise and moral choice, and to truly understand what is gained, and what is lost, when a woman becomes a mother. Heti treats the most universal and consequential decision of early to mid-adulthood–whether to have kids–with the candour and originality that have won her international acclaim, and that made How Should a Person Be? required reading for a generation of young women. The result is a courageous, funny and ultimately moving novel about motherhood, selfhood, and how–and for whom–to live.
Motherhood is an intense journey and rumination on what it means to be a mother and how that affects one’s relationships with friends, family, romantic partners, and even with oneself. The narrator explores her own thoughts and feelings versus the expectations that society and other outside forces impose on her. She shares her findings and her experiences with herself in a sort of journal/chronicle on womanhood and becoming a mother, but she also shares with the reader in an almost autobiographical way. The book is not super plot driven, however it presents more of an intellectual discussion, creating more of a conversational presentation rather than a story. We still get a glimpse into the window of the narrator’s life, her relationship troubles and triumphs, her friendships as they change over time as others choose the path of motherhood.
What I really enjoyed about this book was the very real confrontation that motherhood is not always an easy choice–that although one might feel a strong pull to become a mother sometimes, it is not always the right choice for that person. It is a decision that only each individual can make fore themselves. It’s not an easy choice and there is a lot of hope, anger, pain, fear, and excitement associated with either option. The narrator gets into the fine details of her feelings and her emotional highs and lows. She seeks out all options and confronts them, despite her own deep seeded anxieties, imagining what her life would be like in each scenario and if that outcome would really bring her life changing joy. She often avoids responsibility for her decisions by using fate and mysticism to address particular outcomes. The toss of a coin results in a yes or no answer as she navigates through series of questions about both really important and more mundane aspects of her life.
Ultimately, the narrator is on a voyage of self-discovery and self-learning. She is seeking out an understanding of meaning and motivation in her life. This book is cyclical, reflecting the essence of what it means to be a woman. Heti writes a beautiful and very feminine narration that I think many women will relate to. The narrator of this book could be any woman. She is so open and honest that I did feel like it was so easy to insert myself into her position, to understand her fears and frustrations, and to think that I myself have also had similar thoughts. It’s a wonderful introduction to starting a conversation about motherhood and where society places value (or doesn’t) on women and reproduction. An excellent read if you’re looking for something to get the wheels turning.