cover image You Carried Me

You Carried Me

Melissa Ohden. Plough, $19.99 (184p) ISBN 978-0-87486-788-6

Ohden’s straightforward and courageous memoir revolves around her efforts to find her birth parents and understand her identity after discovering at age 14 that she survived a late-term abortion. She was raised in a loving, religious, and economically pinched family in rural and small-town Iowa, and her faith and love of family inform her reactions to her situation and journey. She explores her political activism, which grew organically but was helped along by the negative reaction she received in college and beyond to her story and her pro-life feminism. Occasionally she jumps to conclusions that seem to validate her political beliefs, and at times she takes an extreme position, but her writing generally offers a stridency formed from deep conviction. Readers of all stripes will feel compassion for the circumstances of her birth, her embarrassment and shame, and her self-harming behaviors. Her biological parents’ tragic narrative and her own miscarriage are among the book’s most poignant moments; others who have miscarried will recognize her reactions. Equally touching are the relationships she forges with the biological relatives who weren’t involved in her birth mother’s decision to attempt to end her pregnancy. Ohden’s beautifully open book is unlikely to change minds on either side of the abortion debate, but it does personalize that debate in a unique way. (Jan.)