by Jennifer Worth
This is categorized as non-fiction/memoir. But I would have enjoyed it more if it had been told in a more true-to-memory fashion, without all the manufactured dialog that makes it feel so “ready for TV serialization”.
I also would have liked just a little more backstory on the writer, the doomed relationship she occasionally alludes to, and how she got into nursing and midwifery. Not a ton of backstory, just a little. For the most part I appreciate her letting her own character recede into the background so often.
There is honesty in her multi-chapter remembrances of befriending an innocent Irish girl led into prostitution – she admits her interest bordered on voyeuristic. And the stealing of said girl’s child to be put up for adoption in a good Catholic home was dealt with in a refreshingly open-eyed manner. The writer is righteously and rightfully indignant, but accepts that the real evil is that there is no other course available.
Somehow the story of the non-English-speaking Spanish lady who prematurely gave birth to her 25th child (yeah, right…) made me feel ticked off. A one-pound baby and she raises it to at least six pounds (we only assume he lived a full life – her story ends when he is six pounds) simply by swaddling him close to her and feeding him colostrum and milk drop by drop. Hell, why do we have NICU’s, after all? What a waste, when it’s so easy! I don’t know why this story out of all the stories in the book annoyed me the most, but I just wanted to smack that woman when she refused to let go of her one-pound baby. I knew he would survive, given the type of book this is and how the story was set up, but I wished the poor infant ill, through no fault of his own.