Book Review: Raising Henry: A Memoir of Motherhood, Disability, and Discovery

Memoir writing may be the most difficult sort of writing there is, because to craft a story from lived experience takes a certain kind of ruthlessness: the willingness to reveal your most difficult moments and deepest flaws with unflinching honesty—without crossing the line into “oh poor me.” It’s a tricky balancing act, I think, and one that very few writers do well—Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club, Jeanette Wall’s The Glass Castle, Cheryl Strayed’s Wild come to mind—and to that list I’d now add Rachel Adams’ wonderful new book Raising Henry, a powerful account about her son Henry, who was born with Down Syndrome. When Henry was born, Adam’s life was clicking along according to plan: she was a tenured literature professor at Columbia University with a wonderful lawyer husband, and a beautiful son named Noah. Sure, they worried about juggling the schedules of a two-career couple, about finding a good school for Noah, all the standard-issue worries—but for the most part, life seemed to be moving forward right on schedule. And then Henry was born. Adams chose not to have the prenatal tests that could have predicted Down Syndrome and one of the (many) powerful moments in the book occur when she points out that when people ask her why she didn’t have those tests, what they are really asking is  “how a well-educated, successful, ambitious woman like me came to have a child with Down syndrome.”...more

Sparkly Shoes For Everyone! (or, let's do away with gendered clothing!)

Mir Kamin wrote a great piece about the recent flapdoodle over the “girls don’t do math” t-shirt being sold by The Children’s Place, which has just issued a “gosh we’re so sorry we didn’t mean to offend anyone” statement.  It’s great that they apologized, but it seems to me that it might be more cost-effective simply to avoid making clothing that promotes sexist stereotypes in the first place. Kamin points out that there are lots of clothes made for kids that have stupid logos or comments on them, but that not all these things draw such consumer anger. Where (and why) do consumers decide to shift from “nah, not gonna buy that stupid shirt” to GET IT OFF THE SHELF?...more
Great points about the gendered clothing choices for boys. I went to buy some pajamas for my son ...more

Eoin Colfer's New Book: WARP: The Reluctant Assassin

When I told my nine year old that I would be getting the new Eoin Colfer book to review, he had no idea what I was talking about. When I said “a new book by the guy who wrote the Artemis Fowl series,” my son pestered me every day about whether the book had arrived....more

If only gatorade had self-confidence, not just sugar and electrolytes

While we were waiting for the second day of soccer camp to start, my eight-year old and I were watching some grown men finish up their soccer match. The goalie flung himself at shots coming full-bore towards his face, making one brilliant save after another. “I’ll never be that good,” Caleb said, doodling his own ball with his foot.  “I was the worst one yesterday.” I pointed out that the goalie was probably thirty and had been playing for a long time, but Caleb was unconvinced. ...more
My students are not 8, nor my blood. That said, when a student says that s/he is a bad writer, ...more

Where are the women in Rolling Stone?

I no longer live in the United States, but I have some of my US magazines forwarded to me because I’ve never quite gotten the hang of reading magazines on an e-reader. For me the experience of a magazine has to do with being able to flip around and read whatever catches my eye. An e-reader is too linear, somehow, too much of a commitment. When I moved out of New York two years ago, I sorted through subscriptions, weighing what should be forward to us out here and what should be canceled. One of the mags that made the cut was Rolling Stone, not only for Matt Taibi’s depressingly accurate reportage but also because without some awareness of “new” music, I will continue to listen to music that is A) leftover from my youth, which is now an uncomfortable number of decades away; or B) condoned by my children, which dooms me to a steady diet of “Glee” covers, Katy Perry, or Macklemore. But after the most recent issue, I’m thinking of canceling my subscription....more

Happy Father's Day! No Gift-Wrap Required

A long time ago, when my parents were still married, my mother gave my father a set of steak knives for Father’s Day. I was probably fifteen or so and I remember thinking “hmm. Knives. Interesting choice.”Of course, the knives weren’t as bad as the time my father bought my mother a vacuum cleaner. For Christmas. It was her “big” present and he spent a long time showing her all the cool attachments: “look! This one lets you clean between the slots in the radiators!” ...more
My parents got married on April 13th. My mother's birthday was on April 29th. My father gave her ...more

Summer Plans, Expat Style: If we ARE home, how can we also be GOING home?

Summer is upon us. My kids and I are dragging themselves limply through school’s final weeks (although our final slog is nowhere near as funny as Jen Hatmaker’s brilliant summation); I have suffered through the indignities of wrestling in and out of bathing suits in a department-store dressing room because I’m tired of ill-fitting mail-order suits; we are making our plans for various family trips (which are not the same thing as vacations).   These early weeks of summer always feel transitional, provisional: we’ve not yet settled into the summer routine but clearly changes are in the air.The transitions of summer loom even larger, however, if you live in a predominantly expat community, as I do.  Sometimes living in an expat city is a bit like living in Chile under Pinochet: one day there’s that nice family whose kids are in your kids’ classes and the next day, poof! They’re gone. And if you don’t happen to know someone who knows the family, you might never learn what happened to them: New job? Family emergency? Abducted by aliens?  The story doesn’t end, it just…stops....more

Celebrating Islamic New Year with Mocktails

The other night, schedules finally meshed, and a friend and I arranged to meet for a drink at a hotel near the soccer field where our kids were having practice together. It's been one of those ridiculous logistics things - the night that I could have a drink, she's busy, and vice versa....more
Thanks for the sneak peek into Abu Dhabi's alcohol policies, very interesting!  I think your ...more

First amusement parks...then the world: the hijab mafia strikes again

Could a woman be strangled by her hijab, ala Isadora Duncan, who died in 1927 when the long fluttery scarf around her neck floated out of her convertible, tangled around a hubcap and snapped her neck?...more