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Flesh & Blood

Reflections on Infertility, Family, and Creating a Bountiful Life: A Memoir

by N. West Moss

Flesh & Blood by N. West Moss X
Flesh & Blood by N. West Moss
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  • Published:
    Oct 2021, 320 pages

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  • Kay D. (Strongsville, OH)
    Amazing Little Book with Big Impact
    This was an amazing little book. The title, Flesh & Blood, carries dual meaning - not only the literal flesh and blood of the author's illness but also the "flesh and blood" of her family connections, and the discussions on family legacy. Beautifully written. Serious yet witty and humorous at times. Highly recommended for all women, not just those who live with infertility and loss. There are lessons to be learned by all.

    The format was perfect for taking in small bits a little at a time and for going back and re-reading sections. The writing flowed and read like a novel (and not just a memoir) while being more like a collection of short stories. It was remarkable. I felt more connected to this book than I expected to and completely encased in the story of the journey through the illness and recovery of the author.

    Well worth reading and sharing. Could be a great book for book clubs.
  • Deborah C. (Highland Park, NJ)
    Both vulnerability and strength in healing
    I was very moved by this strong, poignant, warm and, yes, suspenseful book. Having myself experienced both primary and secondary infertility (our son was born after 11 ½ years of marriage and we were unable to have another), I understood some of the writer's experiences all too well. Yet the book goes beyond the specific pain of infertility, and would be helpful to any woman who is dealing – or has dealt - with the physical and emotional suffering of illness.

    Written over months of severe bleeding and weakness, and tied to the natural world by seasons, flowerings, insect and animal life, the book mirrors the author's sense of regret and recovery circling back on themselves. Many readers may be comforted by the message of both strength and vulnerability that can accompany healing from any loss.
  • Anna R. (Oak Ridge, TN)
    Incredible
    The Memoir by West Moss was hard to put down. The story of her struggles with infertility was heartbreaking.
    My heart hurt for her as she dealt with the bleeding and as she waited for a diagnosis. I was so glad when she finally has a hysterectomy. Her recovery was so hard with the continued bleeding. I wanted her doctors to solve this!! I don't know how she managed to do what she did with such a low blood count. Wow.
    I enjoyed her thoughts about her Grandmother Hastings and the time with her mother as she recovered.
    Her husband sounded very kind and understanding.
    She was so brave to go to house set in Holland for a month. That too was difficult, but she did it.
    I will recommend this book to my book club. This is a wonderful book.
  • Laura C. (Woodworth, LA)
    A very timely and candid reflection
    Although a very quick read, even at 307 pages, Flesh & Blood leaves the reader with much to ponder beyond the last page. After three miscarriages and a hysterectomy followed by a relapse, N. West Moss struggles to adjust to the reality of infertility. The descriptions of what she suffers physically along the way are very graphic, not to sensationalize but to shine a light on what actually happens to many women but is seldom discussed. Her healing and eventual acceptance take many forms and lead Moss to uncover much about her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, even as she contemplates being the end of their lineage. Moss' self-deprecating humor, droll wit and positive attitude make this ultimately an uplifting memoir. On a personal note, I had to have a hysterectomy years ago, three years before I married. Moss' journey, so honestly and poignantly shared, is unlike anything I've ever read before on the subject. I believe it will resonate with many other women as well.
  • WDH - Kentucky
    Graphic / Relatable
    I very much liked the writing style and descriptions of people (her husband in particular) and situations. I could relate to some of her experiences but don't feel that's necessary to connect to the book. Readers should be aware that the descriptions about excessive bleeding are graphic. I will watch for more from this author.
  • Julia A. (New York, NY)
    Writing rights the author's ship
    N. West Moss was brave to write this book, which is partly an account of her illness, surgery, and recovery, and partly a memoir in which she keeps alive the stories of her Grandmother Hastings, whom I found to be a delightful character. While I got impatient with the medical establishment at times, and truly felt empathy for what the author was going through, it was the reminiscences about her grandmother, and the encounters with her the author's mother, husband, neighbors, and pets that kept me reading. I heartily endorse the author's comment about writing: " When I start to write, Everything will be OK. What makes a person a writer has little to do with being published (as I once thought). I write because, when I am thrown off-kilter by getting lost in Amsterdam, or by a prolonged illness, or by life, say, it's coming back to the page that rights my ship." (p. 290) I, for one, am glad that the author came back to the page and gave the reader "Flesh and Blood."
  • Lynette P. (San Antonio, TX)
    Ties of Blood
    I have a special fondness for memoirs, especially those written by women, so I was happy to read and review Flesh and Blood: Reflections on Infertility, Family, and Creating a Bountiful Life, by N. West Moss. Flesh and Blood is a perfect title for this memoir, a conclusion the reader will probably come to easily after reading the Prologue and first few pages of this book. Ms. Moss refers to "flesh and blood" in the dedication as well:
       
       For my mother
       and her mother
       and her mother
       and her mother

    With great fondness she remembers her own Grandmother Hastings, in particular, early on in the book, and again frequently throughout. And since the book is mainly about her experience with an illness which many flesh and blood women can easily relate to (an illness involving flesh and lots of bleeding), an illness which will eventually deprive her of the ability to have grandchildren of her own, the "flesh and blood" of the title are meant to be interpreted literally as well.

    I did enjoy this book over all, with its occasional bits of laugh-out-loud humor: alluding to the anesthesiologist and the anesthesia The author quotes, "'Imagine this is a Bombay Sapphire, then,' bless his fucking heart. No kidding, even though I prefer Hendrick's." I also loved her descriptions of her husband, who is all a husband should be, and was entertained by the antics of the praying mantis that lived in her room with her during her recovery.

    I give this book four stars, however, instead of the perfect five, possibly because of the off-putting copious amounts of blood Moss describes, although I am not entirely sure that that is why i deducted a point. Still, I would recommend the book to a friend and read this author again. I also think Flesh and Blood would make for an interesting discussion in a women's book club.
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