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Because I Said So: 33 Mothers Write About Children, Sex, Men, Aging, Faith, Race, and Themselves Hardcover – April 12, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Moses and Peri, who edited Mothers Who Think, an American Book Award–winning anthology based on a column, have gathered some 33 talented mothers (including writers Rosellen Brown, Janet Fitch, Ayelet Waldman and Ann Hulbert, among others) discussing aspects of "real motherhood" today. True, most of their issues—spousal abuse, divorce, cancer, step-parenting, single mothering—aren't new. Some contributors, like Mariane Pearl, the widow of journalist Danny Pearl, have even published their thoughts elsewhere. What's magical about this collection, though, is what happens when such diverse accounts are stitched together in a single volume: a new picture emerges of what it means to be a mother in modern America. Chemo treatments may leave you bald. Your kids may suffer from "KGOY—kids growing older younger," and as they test your limits, you may find yourself "morphing into some authoritarian freak." If you're black, people may assume you're your own child's nanny. But as one woman discovered traveling solo to Cairo to see a particular set of Roman-era memorial portraits in the Egyptian Museum, the acknowledgment "of death, of loss, of suffering, as well as of desire and remembered joy" is all "part of living." Skip the flowers and candy this Mother's Day, and buy this book instead. Agent, Ellen Levine. (May 1)

From Booklist

The writers of online magazine Salon's column "Mothers Who Think," and later a book of the same title, offer a collection of candid essays by women grappling with the demands of modern motherhood. The collection of 33 essays encompasses eight by contributors to "Mothers Who Think." Other writers include an unmarried Muslim woman banned from the mosque for having a child, a woman who disdained dolls as a girl but becomes obsessed with American Girl dolls as a weapon against precocity, a mother who laments her white middle-class son's fascination with the misogyny and ghetto worship of rap music, a mother who writes of her adolescent daughter's adjustment to her lesbian lover, and a black mother who was mistaken for the nanny of her biracial child. Essays also address divorce and separation, stepparenting, turbulent adolescence, and waning sexuality, all against the backdrop of war, environmental issues, and the financial woes of modern American life. Women will appreciate the humor and candor, and men will gain insight into the stunning challenges of motherhood. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (April 12, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060598786
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060598785
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,321,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Andrea Lawson Gray is a food writer and chef. She has been proprietor at San Francisco-based Tres Señoritas Gourmet, a caterer specializing in authentic Mexican cuisine, since 2005. In 2011, she launched Una Señorita Gourmet, a Private, In-Home Culinary Experience. Gray's blog My Mission: Tastes of San Francisco chronicles the changing tastes, sounds and landscape of the neighborhood where she lives. She writes a column on Mexican cuisine for the; and her memoir, Survivor, was published in the collection Because I Said So: 33 Mothers Write About Children, Sex, Men, Aging, Faith, Race, & Themselves, edited by Camille Peri and Kate Moses in 2005.

Prior to her move to the West Coast, Gray was the Executive Chef at Taipan Diane in New York City; and before that, Creative/Merchandising Director of Aesthetics Marketing Direct, which she founded, from 1990-1997.

Andrea now applies a well-honed sense of design, taste and color to her unique menus and Mexican tabletop designs. She volunteers at International High School of San Francisco, working on Diversity issues and is a single mother of 3, with residences in San Francisco and Tenango de Valle, Estado de Mexico, MX, where Casa de la Tia, a small Casa de Huespedes (Guest House) and cooking school is projected to open in the Summer of 2016.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By rebelmomof2 VINE VOICE on April 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is one of my top Five books of 2005. In fact, this is the best book I have read this year. If I could give it a ten, I would. I identified with each of the authors in this collection of essays ~~ even though some of their experiences I may not share, they are writing from the deep reaches of their hearts and souls. This book is not only a collection of essays of women from all ages and all walks of life ~~ it is about Everywoman. It's about you and me.

When I started reading this book, I thought, oh, I'll have one favorite essay. Nope. I have more than one ~~ in fact, I love them all. These women have a wonderful and rare gift of expressing their thoughts and feelings on paper. They are inspirational for me to be the best mother, wife, friend, daughter that I can be. And if you're worried that this is all about women writing about children and parenting ~~ your fears are groundless. These women are writing about everything. They write about divorce, race, religion, abuse, love, tenderness, parenting, babysitting, watching their children grow up, dealing with prejudice,having nannies, being banned from the mosque and more.

These women write of real experiences. These women are not angry writers. They are thoughtful and reflective writers, writing with prose, humor and lyrical rhyming. These women reveal their strength and grace in their essays. They don't have any male-bashing in their essays nor are they bitter or angry. They just write and their feelings and thoughts flow together in a wonderful chime of words.

If I have any regret from reading this book, it's this one. I wish I could meet each and every single one of these essayists and sit down with them and just talk.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Meryl K. Evans on August 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book has 33 stories written by 33 intelligent women who happen to be mothers. Stories cover the gamut of breaking cultural rules, losing a successful business and starting over, dealing with divorce, moving to a foreign country and leaving your children behind, facing a difficult situation when the kids love the nanny as much as the mother, and other topics that many of us would never dream of confronting. For those who have faced such situations, these stories remind us we're not alone.

I don't know how to do these stories justice with this review. I feel like a friend sitting across from the author of the story, telling her tale as if I were her best friend because of the intimate details she shares. The stories don't have a hint of whining children, male bashing, or "woe is me" moaning. After reading a story, don't be surprised if you wish you could meet the author and become her friend.

Instead, meet a Muslim woman who deals with the stigma of having a child out of wedlock in "The Scarlet Letter Z." Meet a woman whose father killed himself when she was young and she didn't find out till eight years later - then her own husband was killed leaving her a widow at 34-years-old with a child on the way in "On Giving Hope." Meet a woman who arranged to have a dinner with her husband at a five-star restaurant and everything prior to the event goes wrong as she explains, "Why I Can Never Go Back to the French Laundry."

Mothers sometimes feel disconnected like their lives are all about their children and their activities. Reconnect by reading these essays and take strength in knowing there are smart women who happen to have the title of Mom added to their list of roles and accomplishments.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Amara TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I read this book just after reading Mothers Who Think, an earlier book of mothering essays put together by the same people. Both books were very well done, full of essays where mothering is thought about seriously by many different mothers with many different views. However, this book focused a bit more on mothers of older children, including a lot of teenagers and preteens. There were some wonderful essays here---for me, the standout one was by the mother of a child with autism. It was one of the most realistic yet inspiring pieces of writing I've ever read about parenting such a child. The piece about the American Girl craze was also very well done. It's interesting to read how many parents re-evaluate their parenting views and perspectives when faced with children reaching older years and getting more of their own personalities! However, I found that this was not quite as strong a book as Mothers Who Think. More of the essays were less rooted in the actual act of being a mother and were more philosophical, which is fine, but not really what I was looking for--for example, the essay on traveling to Egypt to see a certain piece of art in a museum there, as a way of dealing with pregnancy loss grief. Another essay was more of a literature survey of child care literature, again, well done but not really based in day to day mothering. One of the most jarring essays for me was the one about Marta, the nanny for the author's children. It was very honestly written, but I found myself feeling so sad for the nanny, as the mother seems resentful that her daugther loves the nanny so, and that the nanny sides with the daughter in a spat between mother and daugther. If you hire someone to take care of your children, you WANT them to love your children, don't you? Overall, this book is certainly worth a read--I hope more books like this are written---books that take mothering seriously.
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