Something about today’s Book Blogger Appreciation Week topic has been nagging at me all day, which is partially the reason why I am just writing today’s topic before the clock strikes 11 p.m.
Today we’re asked to share a book that has been “forgotten” by book bloggers, one that everyone should read but is not getting the attention it deserves. I tossed a few books around in my mind but always came back to thinking that I would feel terrible if someone had written about the book I selected and in the myriad of blogs, I just missed it.
(As if it is possible to read every post about every book. Really. Another example of how I set ridiculous standards for myself. Sigh.)
Anyway, so I thought perhaps I would take a different angle on this topic. I’ve been wanting to go back to the books I read before I started blogging and highlight some of them, because there were really so many wonderful books that made an impact on me. In my Book Blogger Swap interview with Kate, I referenced (don’t laugh) an Oprah Book Club pick from February 1997, Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi. As I said in the interview, I believe some books (like people) come into our lives for a reason and when we most need them. Stones from the River was one of those books for me and it is still one of my favorites.
But as I thought about this topic throughout the day (yes, quite often throughout the day … I spent the morning in a dreadfully boring and unproductive meeting with some of the worst coffee imaginable), I kept coming back to one particular forgotten book that I still treasure, even though I’m in a different stage of life now than when I read it in 199 … 7? 8? I’m thinking it was 1997.
Paulette Bates Alden’s book, Crossing the Moon: A Journey Through Infertility, is simply one of the most poignant, honest, and beautifully written memoirs I have ever read. Obviously, it will appeal most to those going through infertility or those who have done so. But as the jacket says, it is also about “aging parents; being raised Southern and female in the fifties; the trade-offs between a life of work and one devoted to nurture; coping with grief and loss. This is a fine companion for anyone struggling with infertility and a treasure for any woman coming to terms with who she is.”
At the beginning of the book, Paulette is 39 years old and doesn’t have children. She takes us on an emotional journey through her ambivalence about motherhood (something I wrestled with a lot) and her and her husband’s infertility treatments. The reader is right there by Paulette’s side, for reading this, you can’t help but look at her as a friend who is going through an incredibly emotional time.
Infertility is so common now that many of us know someone who has had trouble conceiving and who has been to an infertility clinic (or two). We’re more open about this today than even a decade ago when The Husband and I were going through this. (How different our journey would have been if I was blogging, which in some ways, I kind of was ….)
But the part that we’re still not open about is that small part of us that might be ambivalent about becoming a parent in the first place. And to that, it is easy to say that one should slam that door shut immediately – if you don’t want to get into this game, then stay the hell out – but that is too crass of a comment to say because it doesn’t take into account all the emotions, the emptiness, and the heartbreak – not to mention the expectations and the reasons why we’re feeling this way in the first place. That’s the courage that Paulette Bates Alden brings to this book. She lets us into a part of this world that we might not want to see, even if we’re standing right there ourselves.
Crossing the Moon is one of the very few books – maybe the only one, really – that I actually underlined in. And boy, did I underline. I’m so glad I did because 13 years later, re-reading my selected passages tonight brought me right back to nights sitting on the porch of our townhouse reading this, pen in hand, for the first time. There’s something to be said of the power of such a book that can bring that experience right back to you so many years later.
I wasn’t going to write about this tonight because I thought, eh … how many book bloggers will be interested in reading this if they aren’t in this situation?
But books transcend book bloggers. That’s why we do this, isn’t it, to broaden a book’s reach to even more readers who may not have heard of it … and who just might need to, whether they know it or not.
copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo’s Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.