The Facts of Life

Paula Knight. Penn State University, $24.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-271-07846-5
With humor, penetrating intelligence, and an eye for human details, Knight chronicles her life of being prepared for motherhood and her eventual efforts to get pregnant. Paula, growing up in Britain in the 1970s, starts learning about sex from adult comments, awkward playground conversations, and exploring Barbie’s anatomy with her best friend, April. As an adult, Paula puts the thought of kids on hold to focus on her art career and deal with a chronic illness. Then April gets pregnant, and Paula wonders whether she’s ready to take the plunge—or whether a 30-something single woman is starting too late. She struggles with miscarriages, fertility treatments, misplaced sympathy from friends, and growing uncertainty about whether all the heartbreak is for something she really wants. Knight, a children’s book illustrator, fills her pages with loose but precisely drawn figures and elegant swathes of nature. Prying near-universal questions about female identity from her singular experience, she explores a difficult subject with compassion. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 05/15/2017
Release date: 03/01/2017
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