Motherhood: Book summary and reviews of Motherhood by Sheila Heti

Motherhood

by Sheila Heti

Motherhood by Sheila Heti X
Motherhood by Sheila Heti
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  • Published in USA  May 2018
    288 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

From the author of How Should a Person Be? ("one of the most talked-about books of the year" - Time Magazine) and the New York Times Bestseller Women in Clothes comes a daring novel about whether to have children.

In Motherhood, Sheila Heti asks what is gained and what is lost when a woman becomes a mother, treating the most consequential decision of early adulthood with the candor, originality, and humor that have won Heti international acclaim and made How Should A Person Be? required reading for a generation.

In her late thirties, when her friends are asking when they will become mothers, the narrator of Heti's intimate and urgent novel considers whether she will do so at all. In a narrative spanning several years, casting among the influence of her peers, partner, and her duties to her forbearers, she struggles to make a wise and moral choice. After seeking guidance from philosophy, her body, mysticism, and chance, she discovers her answer much closer to home.

Motherhood is a courageous, keenly felt, and starkly original novel that will surely spark lively conversations about womanhood, parenthood, and about how--and for whom--to live.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A book of sex (the real, unsensational kind), mood swings, and deep feminist thought, this volume is essentially a chronicle of vacillating ruminations on this big question. Although readers shouldn't go in expecting clean-cut epiphanies, this lively, exhilaratingly smart, and deliberately, appropriately frustrating affair asks difficult questions about women's responsibilities and desires, and society's expectations." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. As her character seeks and ultimately chooses, as she must, the aspects of life and art she'll lay claim to, Heti writes with courage, curiosity, and uncommon truth: 'To go along with what nature demands and to resist it - both are really beautiful - impressive and difficult in their own ways.'" - Booklist

"With each of her novels, Sheila Heti invents a new novel form. Motherhood is a riveting story of love and fate, a powerful inspiration to reflect, and a subtle depiction of the lives of contemporary women and men, by an exceptional artist in the prime of her powers. Motherhood constitutes its own genre within the many-faceted novel of ideas. Heti is like no one else." - Mark Greif, author of Against Everything

"This inquiry into the modern woman's moral, social and psychological relationship to procreation is an illumination, a provocation, and a response - finally - to the new norms of femininity, formulated from the deepest reaches of female intellectual authority. It is unlike anything else I've read. Sheila Heti has broken new ground, both in her maturity as an artist and in the possibilities of the female discourse itself." - Rachel Cusk, author of Outline and Transit

"I've never seen anyone write about the relationship between childlessness, writing, and mother's sadnesses the way Sheila Heti does. I know Motherhood is going to mean a lot to many different people - fully as much so as if it was a human that Sheila gave birth to - though in a different and in fact incommensurate way. That's just one of many paradoxes that are not shied away from in this courageous, necessary, visionary book." - Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot and The Possessed

The information about Motherhood shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

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Caitlin B.

Motherhood
A very personal, and profound book by Sheila Heti. Heti’s writing style is similar to that of stream of consciousness poetry. The book takes you on a journey rather than tells you a story. It gives you an insight into the depths of an individual’s life and their relationship with pain, sadness, doubt, their mother, boyfriend, friends, childbearing, love, and life. You are taken along the narrator’s transformation as she learns to be content with her life, her past, and her decisions.

Great read and I was able to relate to much of the content contained in the book. Heti's writing made quite the impact on me as I was reading this book.

Shirley T. (Comfort, TX)

Motherhood by Sheila Heti
Motherhood is an amazing book, both personal and controversial. Sheila Heti's writing style is unique, using the question/answer mode to blend with the prose of the story.

The novel is partly memoir and partly the progressive life of a writer as she considers the choices of her mid life possibilities and reflects on the life altering decisions of others.

Completely fascinating and brave!

Lee M. (Creve Coeur, MO)

Career Advice
To say this book is different just does not cover it. It's a select compendium of many of the pros and cons of a private but important decision facing our female executive leaders of the 21st century. Very well written and covering some territory not previously discussed or well defined in any Career Manual.

Janine S. (Wyoming, MI)

Angst overkill
Motherhood is interesting for some of the literary techniques employed by the author but after that the angst over a decision to have children - actually seemingly made years previously by having an abortion and in the present by taking the morning after pill - becomes tedious reading. It became difficult to resonant with a narrator who sought to blame her mother, her lover and PMS for just about every thing that could possibly be wrong in her life. Motherhood as a calling or a decision requires some sense of selflessness. For the book's narrator it's probably a good decision for her not to have a child as I'm not sure she could ever get outside herself.

Sally H. (Geneva, OH)

Motherhood
I found it extremely difficult to slog through this book. The question and answers with the coins reminded me of asking questions to a toy 8 Ball; the pointless meanderings made me not want to read anything else written by this author. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone.

Vivian Harrington

Self Absorbed Author Could Use Therapy
Initially the concept of using the I Ching for decision making interested me because I lived in Asia for 5 years and remain fascinated by Chinese divination. After the first few chapters, however, the repetitive questions about ordinary decisions bored me.

Additionally, the author truly appeared to be relying upon faux angst regarding the decision to have children to self indulge in writing this book. I never felt indecision. It seemed as if the author was trying to justify who decision to remain childless to look to the world as if it were agonizing.

Every family has issues, depression, good, bad, ugly, joy....most women who decided not to have children (myself included) did not have to ask dice to give us the answer. We just knew what was right for us.

...6 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Sheila Heti

Sheila Heti is the author of seven books of fiction and nonfiction, including How Should a Person Be? which was a New York Times Notable Book and was named a best book of the year by The New Yorker. She is co-editor of the New York Times bestseller Women in Clothes, and is the former Interviews Editor for The Believer magazine. Her work has been published in The New York Times, The London Review of Books, The Paris Review, McSweeney's, Harper's, and n+1.

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