Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Questionable Talisman

Soooooo, about a couple weeks (and by "couple weeks" I mean a month) ago I read the memoir, Three Wishes by Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones, and Pamela Ferdinand, and I've been avoiding writing about it ever since.  Don't get me wrong; it's a pretty good book. It's just one of those that are really hard to put into words.  But the authors managed in the first place, so I can at least  put together a semi-coherent review. (yes? Yesh.)

The Basics
Goldberg, Carey, Beth Jones, and Pamela Ferdinand. Three Wishes. New York: Little, Brown, and Co., 2010. Print.

All our authors have achieved significant recognition throughout their careers as writers and journalists (they're writers! Who'd a thunk?), writing for the likes of The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post. And no wonder, since if this book is any evidence, they're all superb writers. The memoir traces each author's journey toward equal success in their romantic and family lives.  As the book progresses, each woman relates her realization that she was tired of waiting for the right man to come along and enable her to have children.  Carey gets things started (so to speak. Sorry, I'm sorry.) by purchasing several vials of sperm from a bank. But before she can really put them to use, she finds love.  The vials are then passed to Beth, and the same process occurs. So they move to Pam, and again love strikes. (Like magic!)

The Book
This was a book that surprised me. Obviously I picked it up because I found the premise intriguing.  I'll admit I also had talismanic images of sperm vials floating through my head, which I found both amusing and disturbing.  Fortunately, the book failed to live up to that expectation.  Instead, I found the book had a rather apt subtitle: "A True Story of Good Friends, Crushing Heartbreak, and Astonishing Luck on Our Way to Love and Motherhood." This is a book about three women growing emotionally and gaining an even stronger sense of independence than they already possessed.  And, in that sense, I think it's a very powerful read.

I think that part of my difficultly with beginning this blog post centers around my inability to fully identify with the protagonists (if you can call real people such. Meh, why not?).  These women are quite different from me, and even as I find places to identify with them, there are an equal number of moments  that I can do little more than intellectually comprehend.  For example, as someone who wants children (you know, someday), I can understand their desire, but I have a harder time understanding the intensity of it. Or again, I have been in a committed relationship since I was 21 and was lucky enough to find someone with whom love comes easily. Thus, it is much harder for me to really understand the depth of their need and some of the things they go through in achieving romantic fulfillment.  I think someone with different life experiences (or just more of them) could get a little bit more out of this memoir. But even without being able to fully empathize, I found the book a very interesting and rewarding reading experience.

The absolute best element to this book is the way each of the three authors is able to pull readers through a huge array of emotions. Each author writes with a certain dry sense of humor that lightens the overall tone of what would otherwise be a very serious book.  It's the kind of humor that's hard to put your finger on; it didn't make me laugh outright, but it did get a couple of sustained smirks.  But the book also has a couple of heart wrenching moments, as the authors endure some of the most crushing blows an expectant mother can face.  Readers will feel each blow and each moment of hope in what is ultimately a very emotionally satisfying memoir, and an empowering one at that.


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