Reviewed by Amy Fish
Editor’s Note: Amy Fish reviewed two books that chronicle the challenges faced by women who want to have a baby.
Here’s what Amy Fish said about these two books.
What These Two Books Have in Common
- Both are memoirs
- Both are written by women about their fertility journey/issues/struggles
- Both include more references to follicles, ovulation, and cervixes than you would find in most books
- Both are involved with and comment on the medical-industrial complex
- Both end with good news (in both cases this means pregnancy and live birth)
What These Books Do Not Have in Common
- The Trying Game is more scientific
- The Other Mothers is more personal
What They Also Do Not Have in Common
- Jennifer Berney’s partner is a woman so sperm is less readily available, and part of the book is devoted to the quest for available and appropriate sperm.
- Amy Klein’s partner is a man. This means that sperm is more readily available, however may sometimes be the cause of the infertility, as explained in the chapter “It’s Not You, It’s Him,” as well as the sections about the male biological clock and the glossary of male infertility.
However, To Be Fair…
The Trying Game includes a section devoted to “LGBTQ Paths to Parenthood.” The book is as inclusive as possible, offering the perspectives of Single Mothers, as well as those who are single right now and may want to freeze their eggs for later.
Best Part of The Other Mothers
I think the best part of this memoir was how personal and intimate Berney got when telling her story. For example, “Wherever I went, I held my breath as I pulled down my pants. I stretched the crotch of my underwear between my two fingers and inspected the fabric for anything resembling blood.”
When I read this, I felt like I was standing on the neighboring toilet, peering over the stall at Berney. Which may sound creepy. But what I mean is, I think many (most?) women have been there – either praying for blood or praying not to see blood, either way, we have all (most of us?) checked our underwear, and this was a visceral moment.
Best Part of The Trying Game
The number of topics and amount of research that went into this book is super impressive. For example, not only does Amy talk about the expense of IVF and possible ways to pay for it, she also includes a suggested list of questions for your insurance company such as “How many new doctor consultations can I have?” Does this make for compelling reading? Well, it depends on your perspective. If you’re like me and you like to exhaust a topic, and know for sure that you have left absolutely no stones unturned in your quest, then you would enjoy this book.
I also liked the section called “Speak Up, Woman!” which offered advice for women about how to ask questions even if they are shy, insecure, ashamed or fearful (her words). She says “this is our health, our money, and our care, and we should be able to be inquisitive and assertive.”
Which One Should I Read?
If you like to read memoirs of all types, and you are interested in learning about a world you may know nothing or very little about, I think you might want to pick up The Other Mothers. I have read LGBTQ+ stories and I’ve read fertility stories but this is the first time I’ve seen the two together. Berney’s style is fresh and engaging. This is the kind of book you get so involved in, you almost forget you’re reading a book, if you know what I mean.
On the other hand, if you (or someone you care about) is going through infertility, The Trying Game is a must read. It covers every single possible aspect of the problem/the process/the possible resolutions. Klein wrote this book based on her Fertility Diary column at The New York Times, and it includes tons of information, suggestions and advice. She also has a knack for boiling down the science into readable (and understandable) bites.