Books for Mama
posted by Amy

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an English teacher in possession of a winter break must be in want of a book. (I couldn't resist that; I'm punchy from the wild and crazy end-of-semester grading combined with kids' holiday shows/class parties/cooking baking afternoons.)

Here are three books I've loved recently:

One Big Happy Family: 18 Writers Talk About Polyamory, Open Adoption, Mixed Marriage, Househusbandry,Single Motherhood, and Other Realities of Truly Modern Love is a collection of essays edited by Rebecca Walker. Full disclosure: I have an essay in this book. I'm in awe of the other writers included, including Dawn Friedman, Dan Savage, Judith Levine, Suzanne Kamata, ZZ Packer, Sasha Hom, and many others. It's a book about all kinds of different families, put together as a result of Walker's search for a way of living family life that was both "authentic and sane."

Phew! Self-promotion done now.

Kate Atkinson's When Will There Be Good News? is the third in a series featuring one of my favorite characters, Jackson Brodie. These are mysteries, but that's an overly simplistic description of this series. The books are funny and sad and lovely. (And how much do I love this picture of Stephen King reading it at a Red Sox game?)

This last book is one I wish had never been written, even though it's among the best books I've read. Elizabeth McCracken's An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination: A Memoir is about a dead baby, a live baby, and the time in between the two. McCracken, whose three other books are written with the same spare, precise prose and wit she brings to this book, left me alternately gasping for her pain and feeling uplifted by her honest, loving, and at times bewildered telling of a truly awful year. In writing about her first baby, who was stillborn, she makes sure he won't be forgotten. I still wish, for her sake, that she'd never had the chance to write this book, but I feel lucky to have read it.