MISCONCEPTIONS: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood

Naomi Wolf, Author . Doubleday $24.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-385-49302-4

In her latest work, the author of the bestselling The Beauty Myth and other titles attempts to employ her fiercely confident and uncompromising, rip-the-lid-off style to tell the painful truth of motherhood in contemporary America. Interweaving personal narrative and reportage—and pouncing with particular vehemence on what she considers to be the dumb, patronizing misinformation in the bestselling guidebook What To Expect When You're Expecting—Wolf reveals that birth in this country is often needlessly painful. In a portentously dramatic tone, she describes how difficult and lonely it can be to care for a child and to be a working mother. Indeed, Wolf finds new motherhood so difficult that it has rocked her celebrated feminism. "Yet here we were," she concludes "to my horror and complicity, shaping our new family structure along class and gender lines—daddy at work, mommy and caregiver from two different economic classes sharing the baby work during the day—just as our peers had done." Wolf says little here that hasn't been said before in books like Jessica Mitford's The American Way of Birth and Ann Crittenden's The Price of Motherhood. What stands out with embarrassing clarity is her emphasis on the sufferings of a privileged minority. In prose that often lapses into purple, Wolf describes the "savagery" of breastfeeding and the unsheltered wilderness of suburban playgrounds. This work is so unoriginal in its social critique and so limited in its portrayal of the hardships endured by mothers and children and families in this country that it comes across as a weirdly out-of-touch bid for personal attention rather than a genuine exposé. It is likely to alienate all but the newest and most sheltered mothers. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/20/2001
Release date: 09/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-385-49745-9
Open Ebook - 238 pages - 978-1-4000-7559-1
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