Just in time for Mother’s Day, I finished reading Celeste Ng’s book. I don’t think any author could do a better job of weaving in EVERY topic I’ve ever spent writing a blog about in this effort. She manages to address transracial adoption, abandonment, infertility, surrogacy and abortion before the book is completed. Race and class underline all the characters and how they interact with each other.
I spent the last few days unable to attend to my own research for my own manuscript in process because I was so very engrossed in this story and could not stop reading.
I will try not to spoil it because you should read it for yourself. I learned about it through an adoption group I belong to and not because of the book per se but because of the TV series. I don’t know how close that series was able to stay to the book but I don’t get commercial TV here.
It is a story about mothers and today we celebrate Mother’s Day. These women’s stories interweave and clash in different, sometimes shocking, sometimes deeply moving ways. At the heart of the drama is a court case trying to resolve the difficult question of who “deserves” to be a mother. I would say there is no such thing as “deserving” to be a mother. One either is or one is not.
The author has friends who’ve conceived easily, who’ve struggled to conceive, who’ve adopted or gone through invasive IVF procedures or used surrogates, or who’ve decided not to conceive. Ng says – “The main constant seems to be judgment. Motherhood seems to be a no-win battle: however you decide to do (or not do) it.”
She continues, “Someone’s going to be criticizing you. You went to too great lengths trying to conceive. You didn’t go to great enough lengths. You had the baby too young. You should have kept the baby even though you were young. You shouldn’t have waited so long to try to have a baby. You’re a too involved mother. You’re not involved enough because you let your child play on the playground alone.”
“It never ends.” And I personally know ALL of that is true.
Ng concludes her thoughts with this insight – “We give women less information about their bodies and reproduction, less control over their bodies, and less support during and after pregnancy – and then we criticize them fiercely for whatever they end up doing.”
Celeste Ng writes in such a skillful manner that I feel humbled in my own attempts in comparison. I cannot recommend her book enough to do it’s brilliance justice but do – read it – if you have not already.