Read advance reader review of Flesh & Blood by N. West Moss, page 3 of 3

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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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  • Marion C. (Peabody, MA)
    A Bountiful Life
    Flesh & Blood is a memoir written by N. West Moss with a subtitle of Reflections on Infertility, Family, and Creating a Bountiful Life. The title suggests her life is difficult with blood and flesh. Moss has a wonderful, straightforward way of telling us her story, the trials and distress of her problem, and her successful recovery. At first, I found the book unusual, and then picked up her sensitivity to what was happening. I ended enjoying the last half, where she and her mother make peace with their knotty lives. A young, mature reader would recognize Flesh & Blood, while an older reader would embrace her solution.
  • Gwen C. (Clearfield, PA)
    Flesh & Blood
    I was surprised how readable and relatable this book is despite my life experiences being completely different. No wallowing in self pity - just a straightforward account of her miscarriages and underlying disease, leading to surgery, supplemented by musings on nature, life/death, religion, ancestry, with humorous - often hilarious -thought waves breaking through it all.

    I appreciated the medical details and definitions, envied the mother/daughter relationship, and wished I had known Grandma Hasting. The trip to Holland echoed some of my mishaps abroad. I especially liked the poetic flavor that rose to the surface of the book - and the recipe, too!
  • Patricia L. (Seward, AK)
    What matters?
    As a mother of three with a rather textbook experience with childbirth and women's health, it was humbling to read of Moss's adverse experiences and their emotional toll. Her descriptions of each part of the journey were open, vivid and introspective.

    Moss not only details her physical health issues, she analyzes her emotional response to those problems as well. She writes frequently of her maternal grandmother, whom she only knew for a short time as a child. She has very fond memories of that relationship and ponders Grandma Hasting's life's struggles as she faces those of her own. Moss asks herself why this seems so important. "Legacy is such an amorphous concept. Why should I care if her stories die with me?...It is such narcissism to think our stories matter in the grand scheme of things but it feels like a biological imperative." Pondering life's meaning while undergoing a struggle to stay alive is an age old question. The author makes a good attempt to answer it.

    Moss's memoir is recommended for those who may be experiencing similar circumstances and need validation for their actions and emotions. It is an education for everyone else.
  • Barbara E. (Corrales, NM)
    Flesh and Blood
    I had so hoped that the book jacket comment - reflections on infertility, family, and creating a bountiful life- would be an accurate representation of what I would read. It was not to be. Yes, lots of blood. Endless renditions of blood spillage. Thoughtful self analysis? Revelations of inner emotional conflicts? Nope. Don't waste your time, instead pick up Unbroken Spirit by Gilbert John, a Navajo man, made a quadriplegic after a truck accident at age 17.
  • Reid B. (Seattle, WA)
    Another memoir of illness
    This is a memoir of illness, though of course it is also much more than that; just as we cannot write of our grief without revealing much about ourselves, digging deeply into what makes us uniquely who we are, we cannot contemplate illness without the same sort of introspection. Death comes into it, of course, as does life—how we have lived ours, what it has meant, who we would leave behind. Even if our illness is not life-threatening (as Moss's is not), illness causes mortality to be close to the surface of our thoughts.

    Because her particular illness is of her uterus, she also must contemplate what that means for her existence as a woman and the fact that she will not have biological children. (A side note: I do wonder quite often what causes us to feel such a compulsion to reproduce. Of course, I understand the biological imperative, but it seems to run so much deeper than that, as if our very meaning is tied up in our offspring. Particularly in a world as challenging as the one children born today are inheriting, one would think we would be a bit more hesitant, a bit more reflective).

    Unfortunately, in the great sea of such memoirs, Moss really doesn't have much to say that is new or significant or poetic. She is good company and seems like a very nice person, but does that justify an entire book? In the rare moments when she allows herself to be, she can be laugh-out-loud funny (look in particular for the chapter titled "Questions for my Doctor"), but these moments don't come nearly often enough to make that a reason to read this book. Moss is a mildly neurotic person with a fairly minor illness which requires major surgery which takes quite a while to recover from. She has the privilege and status to make this all work. She has a loving and supportive family. She has memories of a beloved grandmother who died too soon.

    All of this adds up to a sweet but, in the end, not very significant book that never really gives us any reason why it needed to be written. I suppose if this sort of thing is your idea of a good time, this is likely a fine addition to the canon, but it's hard to recommend it otherwise.
  • Sally H. (Homosassa, FL)
    Flesh & Blood
    I'll be the oddball - I did not like this book, I would not buy this book, and I would not recommend this book to anyone. It was less about infertility and more an excruciatingly detailed and tedious description of dysfunctional uterine bleeding and the time period before and after the author's hysterectomy for a benign hemangioma. To compare this book to When Breath Becomes Air or The Bright Hour is ludicrous.
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