Friday, May 7, 2010

The May Queen edited by Andrea N. Richesin

subtitle: Women on Life, Love, Work, and Pulling it all Together in Your 30'sAttention: This is in no way a self-help or motivational book (COLBY!)
What this book is, is an interesting collection of essays by women about their 30's. Many of them center on moments of enlightenment or change. Many are about motherhood and marriage. But the editor did a fabulous job of getting a variety of writers. She explains that there was "no single image of womanhood that we are striving for." The subject, writing style, life style,
each is refreshingly different. And I think because of that I felt like I was gaining all sorts of different insight and ideas. And you know what? It was motivational for me. I didn't feel unaccomplished, or like I've put my life on hold for the last 11 years since I started my career as a mother, not at all. But it did get my mind going. I love that all these women have lived different lives, but the point is we all have something to say.

I kind of felt like I was reading a literary magazine. The stories are all short and worked great when I only had a few minutes to read here and there. I'm kind of sad that I've run out of them!

Three more things I liked:

1) Each chapter started with a quote. I'm a fan of that.
2) Most of the essays had digressions and ramblings. I'm also a fan of those.
3) At the back of the book is a photo and short bio of each of the women. I flipped back to see the women over and over. I loved that part.

Here are a few quotes from the various authors:

"I could tell her that, in a way, the pressure's off, and that there's a new set of challenges ahead." Jennifer Weiner

"They are friends who have stuck around since I was five and friends who I was smart enough to spot when I was older." Sara Woster

"Thank G-- all those men were just not that into me. They did me a bigger favor than I could have ever known." Veronica Chambers

"I was able to muster the courage to take a step toward my deepest dream while still staying light enough on my feet to follow the path when it took a most unexpected turn." Tanya Shaffer

"No matter what the journey you chose, if you hang on, it will ultimately lead you to discovering your true nature." Samina Ali

"I ran through a roster of all the men I knew. And I realized there wasn't one whose face I wanted to see staring back at me for the rest of my life--except my husband's." Heather Chaplin

"I cried through the mask as John held his dangling body up for me to behold...And from then on, everything up to that point in my life was utterly insignificant." Erin Cressida Wilson

"Twenty years of writing was only practice to do that thing that everyone I went to school with did right away..." Erin Cressida Wilson

"For me, at least, going to the margins was something I had to do as a younger feminist, but to stay there would just be admitting I couldn't handle the rest of the world." Jennifer Baumgardner

I loved this last quote because I think it rings true of any extreme views, including religion. What good is it to set yourself apart if you can't participate in the world? I was thinking of working together for good, sharing opinons, evening influencing people. You can't do that if you ostracize yourself.

A few of my favorite essays:

Wide Awake by Marisa de los Santos (the reason I found this book)
She explains the feeling of getting up early with your toddler to keep him from waking up the baby, then goes into how she arrived at the decision to have kids. As with everything she writes, it's her words and phrases that get me everytime.

A Hungry Balance by Julianna Baggott
She writes about balancing, or not balancing, being a mother and a writer. How she knew she must have a family and write, if she gave up one she would resent the other. I loved how she didn't tell people she was a writer, but instead told them she was a stay-at-home mom, knowing the sterotype that would occur. I loved this essay.

I'm the One by Erin Ergenbright
She writes about bad relationships, and one particular break-up. She writes about coming out of it and finding herself.

A Random Sampling Age Thirty to Forty by Ayun Halliday
This was creatively done in lists. Lists of things that she did or didn't do in different decades of her life, goals she had, things that didn't happen to her, things that affected her. I enjoyed reading these.

To All the Men I've Loved Before by Amanda Eyre Ward
She writes a series of letters addressed to the men she has loved, like old boyfriends dating back to childhood. They are funny, interesting, and seemed honest. I loved this idea, and think it would be fun to write up my own.

This collection might be one of those things you can only like if you relate to the time of life. I really liked reading them, and reflecting on them. I recently turned 35, and have been reflecting on that quite a bit myself.

I'd love to hear which ones you liked if you pick this up!


salty c-snake said...

who's this colby you're capslocking at?? and you've totally sold me. if i can find a library i don't owe money to, i'm totally getting it.

Kim Edwards said...

Okay, Kammy..... I want to read your essay of letters to old boyfriends! I know it would be fun to read. Like the letter to your "wokka" - that would be a good one.

This book sounds so good.

Kammy T said...

Hey Kim, when we have a roommate's reunion we should do letters to all our college wokka was very cute!

Sharlene, Mom, Grammy said...

I loved this book review! The book sounds great. I especially liked the quote by Tanya Shaffer. I like short, well written stories grouped together. I think my daughters would really like this one. I just finished reading, "Finding God at BYU," and each chapter is written by a different person. Liked it a lot.

Hayley's Comment said...

Can't wait to read it! I've heard about it from other women I know. Add it to my vacation reading list!