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Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career & the Conflict of Modern Motherhood Paperback – Apr 1 2011


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Amazon.com: 52 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Thank you for this book July 12 2011
By Jenfy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I want to start out by saying that I have read the book (cover to cover) and all the reviews. I picked this book up (well, downloaded it really) after a particularly bad day at work topped off by a particularly bad evening listening to several SAHMs at a local park - where I live, many SAHMs also have full or part time nannies, weekly/daily house cleaners, and, in some cases, personal food services or personal chefs. I needed to find something to validate my experience of motherhood and my constant struggle everyday to hold it together.

I appreciated the essays from all the women who contributed and I found something in almost each essay I could identify with. The essay writers are honest, sometime brutally. I can understand how some reviewers might have the impression that the writers do not really care/love their children. However, I think that impression might come from a misinterpretation of the point of the book. The essays were not suppose to be about children and raising children, the essays are about women and their struggles as employees, wives, women, individuals, and yes as moms. These essays were about each woman as an individual, as a person who also happens to have the title of "mother", struggling to make it all work out. To me, that the essays did not reveal loving prose about balancing babies, dinner, and 6 a.m conference calls, did not provide soft-focus mental images of frolicking families, breastfeeding bliss, and last minute flights to Chicago for a meeting, nor some annoying, sparkly ticker tape at the end of each with peapod graphics listing "mom to special child #1 and #2, loving partner of..., employee of the year at...blah, blah, blah" was not a loss. These were essays from the trenches of each author's life - the times when all is not neatly summed up in a weekly baby magazine email bulletin. While I am a mom, I am still an autonomous person and it is nice to read stories about mothers, by mothers that don't focus just on children and being a mom.

This book is a good read for women of my generation (born in 1970 for reference) or younger, raised after the women's movement had taken hold - told that we need careers to find purpose in life - told we could have it all. I was told that I would find a career I loved and a husband and kids would follow effortlessly. No one ever told me that having kids could change me so profoundly - make my career seem so meaningless. No one ever told me that I might want and might enjoy (gasp!) being "simply" a mom and wife. In fact, I was always told the opposite - being a SAHM could not be fulfilling, and I would waste my life, my education, and my intelligence pursuing that option. Well here I am, along with millions of other women, having been handed it all - and then the bill.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Glad to Know I'm Not Imagining How Hard This All Is...! July 9 2011
By P. L. Barksdale - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love this book. It does not pretend to be all things to all people. Like many of the contributors, I am an Ivy-League educated woman (who also has an MBA and tries to work part-time while raising my two elementary aged kids). What I loved about this book was that a) the writing is excellent b) the voices are surprisingly varied and c) it made me realize I am not crazy! Apart from just feeling validated with my own struggles, I actually had some "ah ha"realizations that have led to some powerful and helpful conversations with my husband. I don't know how Samantha managed to compile a selection of essays that avoids sounding whiney, but she did it. THANK YOU for this book.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
TORN on the reviews! June 8 2011
By emily billington - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Having read all the reviews thus far, it seems as though mine might not be taken seriously since I've never posted on Amazon. But I signed on to send TORN to a friend as a gift, a "chin up" type of gesture, to show that there are other women in her position struggling with the options we have as career women and moms. I didn't take offense to the book, I see where there is a lack of diversity in the types of women represented, it seems a bit ivy league heavy. But I think the message is clear, and it echoes what I have been feeling since I gave up my career to have children: No matter how much I love my children, sometimes being a mom is not enough. The reaction to that is very different for every mom, but no doubt, across the board, a struggle.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Challenges of Modern Motherhood Oct. 23 2012
By Colleen M. Kennedy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Let me begin by saying that I did enjoy reading this book. It gives insight as to the struggles that many women face dealing with the day-to-day responsibilities of providing for their family.

This book does not provide a cross-section of experiences across social classes, however, that alone does not make the lived experiences of these women any less valid. It is difficult to find one book that encompasses the entire range of experiences that women, regardless of class, race, ethnicity, culture, and society. There is no one single essence of womanhood that can be portrayed without accounting for the many variables that impact a person's life, or as Patricia Hill Collins famously refers to as "The Matrix of Domination" in "Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment" Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment (Routledge Classics) As an instructor who teaches about family and motherhood, I have yet to find one book that encompasses all of the intricacies of motherhood and does so satisfactorily. So many books that claim to do just that, take such a simplistic view on motherhood that leaves so many readers feeling isolated and distanced from the message of that book. To accurately study modern motherhood and the challenges that women face from deciding to become mothers to parenting styles to child care options to work, one must read several books to even scratch the surface of the complexity involved with being a mother in modern society.

It is without a doubt that some readers, and as witnessed through the reviews, some reviewers may disagree with the struggles that the women in "Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career and Conflict of Modern Motherhood" deal with. However, the lived experiences of these women are true and valid and one should approach this book with an open mind to see inside just some of the struggles that women must deal with. I do not believe that the writers included within this collection stigmatize women who choose to stay home to raise their children full time as being unintelligent or lacking ambition. The message that I got was that because raising a child is such a huge, full time responsibility, it is so difficult for women to try to balance that responsibility with others, be those intellectual, recreational, or occupational pursuits. The struggle is with providing the best child care possible and not everyone is capable of being there for their child in every way all the time with a smile on her face. Parenting is the most difficult job there is and the fact that this aspect of unpaid domestic labor is devalued in our society is reprehensible. All any woman can do is to do her best.

I would find it interesting for Samantha Parent Walravens to follow up this collection of stories with one that looks at the struggle with modern fatherhood.

As the other reviews show, clearly this book may not appeal to everyone. I don't believe it was meant to. Simply, it was meant to offer a peek into the lives and struggles that some women face in modern society. If you keep this in mind, I do not believe that you will find this book to be a less than satisfying read. This book is not about offering advice as to how to balance motherhood and other responsibilities, it is about showing how women, in their own words, struggle with the responsibility of motherhood.

I do recommend this book to anyone who seeks to get a better understanding of how women struggle with multitasking motherhood with other responsibilities.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Life Balance June 15 2011
By Mary J McDermott - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Just finished reading TORN and was moved by the many and diverse testimonies of moms trying to balance their lives between mothering and working - not an easy task. It brought back to me the feeling I encountered years ago in the 1970's when I left a great job at one of the leading investment banking firms in NY to become a stay-at-home mom. It was a very difficult decision and TORN is just how I felt especially when my boss said to me, "let me put a computer terminal in your home and you can commute into office once a week for meetings". Was that a tempting offer and was that a forward thinking scenario on his part! More companies need to offer schedules to make mom's lives earier - sharing time; part-time work, flex-time - a schedule that would benefit both the employer and the employee. The decision I made so many years ago to stay home and raise our 3 children and forego a career was the right one for me, but it was difficult to give up a promising career, just when women were having many doors open to them than in the past. "TORN" is a book for all women to read to help them weigh the challenges faced in life.


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