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Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career & the Conflict of Modern Motherhood Paperback – April 24, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Coffeetown Press (April 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603810978
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603810975
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #676,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews



"TORN is filled with the voices of women trying to solve an impossible equation, all doing the best they can. These nearly four dozen writers include a wide swath of the real world - attorneys and professors, software designers and social workers, soldiers and stay-at-home moms. They live on good incomes, and reduced incomes, and, in one case, on welfare. They are married, divorced and single. They write about big things (cancer, depression, regrets, teen pregnancy, readjusting to being a mom after being a soldier in Iraq) and small (worm bins, cupcakes, speeding tickets, Dora the Explorer, dirty diapers.)

All of them have one thing in common - they have all compromised. Whether theirs is a compromise they can live with is the central question."

-- Lisa Belkin, The New York Times

“For those of us who live in a constant state of anxiety about how we’ve compromised our careers for our kids or the other way around, books about the the work/life balance and how other women have dealt with it remain perennially  interesting. Torn is a welcome addition to this body of work …. The point that nobody actually has it all is made all the more compelling when it is made by a choir of voices.”

– Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times

Torn offers up the finest imaginable gift for today’s moms, no matter whether you work or stay at home: the comforting truth that we all juggle life and kids as best we can, and that moms ride this nutty ‘mommy wars’ roller coaster together."

- Leslie Morgan Steiner, author of Mommy Wars and the NY Times bestseller, Crazy Love

"A fascinating look at Mothering 2.0. In Torn, a new generation of mothers explores the delicate balancing act of work and family life with intelligence, wit, and candor."

--Willow Bay, Senior Editor, The Huffington Post, and Special Correspondent, Bloomberg Television

"A tender, humorous, and sometimes heartbreaking collection of experiences as unique as the women who lived them. For those of us who were guided, and often defined, by the women's movement, these stories resonate in a way that is both sustaining and essential."

--Victoria Zackheim, Editor, He Said What? Women Write About Moments When Everything Changed

"Torn is a poignant look at how a generation of mothers is trying to forge its own identity while honoring the legacy of 60s and 70s feminism. Sometimes freedom can be its own trap, and this book illustrates that principle beautifully."

--Neal Pollack, Vanity Fair columnist and author of Alternadad and Stretch

"Finally, a reality-based look at life, love and motherhood for real women from real women. No quick fixes or fantasy escapes here. Just good, old-fashioned, in-the-trenches camaraderie that lets you know you are not alone and that the fight is worth it. Really!"

--Allison Glock, author of the award-winning memoir Beauty Before Comfort and mother of two girls she still hugs in public

"Torn speaks a bold, discomfiting truth: there is no easy solution when it comes to balancing career and parenting. These unflinchingly honest stories reveal the unusually high stakes of women's choices about work and family--for their marriage, their children, their career, their financial life, and especially for their own identity. This book is a vital contribution to the conversation about the value of domestic life and the hidden costs of work for women and their families. Offering neither easy solutions nor judgment, its hope lies in its willingness to fully engage the messy realities that so many women face every day."

--Lisa Harper, author of A Double Life, Discovering Motherhood (Winner of the 2010 River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Award)

"Sharp, poignant and sometimes funny stories about some very unfunny issues that mothers grapple with daily. If you have a mother, are a mother or know a mother, read this book."

--Katherine Clifford, Founder of

"As a therapist who sees many women torn between the conflicting demands of motherhood, marriage and career, I believe that the deep empathy and understanding created by these remarkably honest and moving personal testimonies makes this book a 'must read' both for women struggling to create work-life balance and for men trying to understand the plight of the women in their lives."

--Geraldine Alpert, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of California Medical School, San Francisco

"In a culture that obsesses over every conceivable determinant of a woman's identity, from physical appearance to marital status, from mothering skills to career potential, the real women behind the societal images often get lost. Finally, 46 successful, well-educated women have taken on the ch --Karen Carrera, former Deputy City Attorney, San Francisco, and board member, Equal Rights Advocates

"With Torn, Samantha Walravens offers a diverse collection of voices making a valuable contribution to our ongoing discussion about trying to maintain a career while raising a family. These writers are sometimes rueful and sometimes quite raw, but always compellingly honest. They insist we set aside guilt and judgment and instead listen to their truths--complicated and difficult as they are--in the hope that someday our children will feel less torn."

--Caroline Grant, Editor-in-Chief, and co-editor, Mama, PhD: Women Write About Motherhood and Academic Life

"Suffice it to say that I started reading the book in the subway and missed my stop! These little essays, often poignant, capture where American mothers find themselves today."

--Joan C. Williams, Distinguished Professor of Law, Founder/ Director, Center for WorkLife Law, University of California, Hastings College of the Law


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Customer Reviews

Motherhood can make you feel crazy...with many peaks and valleys.
This thoughtful compilation of essays is well written and provides a broad breadth of perspective that speaks to so many women.
Ms. Walravens has captured the mixed feelings and anxiety many women feel while trying to balance work and family.
K. Tinto

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jenfy on July 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
I want to start out by saying that I have read the book (cover to cover) and all the reviews. I picked this book up (well, downloaded it really) after a particularly bad day at work topped off by a particularly bad evening listening to several SAHMs at a local park - where I live, many SAHMs also have full or part time nannies, weekly/daily house cleaners, and, in some cases, personal food services or personal chefs. I needed to find something to validate my experience of motherhood and my constant struggle everyday to hold it together.

I appreciated the essays from all the women who contributed and I found something in almost each essay I could identify with. The essay writers are honest, sometime brutally. I can understand how some reviewers might have the impression that the writers do not really care/love their children. However, I think that impression might come from a misinterpretation of the point of the book. The essays were not suppose to be about children and raising children, the essays are about women and their struggles as employees, wives, women, individuals, and yes as moms. These essays were about each woman as an individual, as a person who also happens to have the title of "mother", struggling to make it all work out. To me, that the essays did not reveal loving prose about balancing babies, dinner, and 6 a.m conference calls, did not provide soft-focus mental images of frolicking families, breastfeeding bliss, and last minute flights to Chicago for a meeting, nor some annoying, sparkly ticker tape at the end of each with peapod graphics listing "mom to special child #1 and #2, loving partner of..., employee of the year at...blah, blah, blah" was not a loss.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By P. L. Barksdale on July 9, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love this book. It does not pretend to be all things to all people. Like many of the contributors, I am an Ivy-League educated woman (who also has an MBA and tries to work part-time while raising my two elementary aged kids). What I loved about this book was that a) the writing is excellent b) the voices are surprisingly varied and c) it made me realize I am not crazy! Apart from just feeling validated with my own struggles, I actually had some "ah ha"realizations that have led to some powerful and helpful conversations with my husband. I don't know how Samantha managed to compile a selection of essays that avoids sounding whiney, but she did it. THANK YOU for this book.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By emily billington on June 8, 2011
Format: Paperback
Having read all the reviews thus far, it seems as though mine might not be taken seriously since I've never posted on Amazon. But I signed on to send TORN to a friend as a gift, a "chin up" type of gesture, to show that there are other women in her position struggling with the options we have as career women and moms. I didn't take offense to the book, I see where there is a lack of diversity in the types of women represented, it seems a bit ivy league heavy. But I think the message is clear, and it echoes what I have been feeling since I gave up my career to have children: No matter how much I love my children, sometimes being a mom is not enough. The reaction to that is very different for every mom, but no doubt, across the board, a struggle.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Margaret on May 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
TORN shows that women must constantly re-negotiate what the balance between work and family means and looks like. This is the truth I live with, and I am grateful to see it acknowledged in this smart and thought-provoking collection of essays.
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24 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Melissa J. Prowse on May 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a kid I always thought I'd get married, have babies, and stay home to raise them, like my mother did. Well, times have changed, and that wasn't an option for us financially (and the older my son got, the more I realized that I didn't think I WANTED to stay home all day). Like the women in this book, who write about it so eloquently, I was upset, confused and, well, Torn, with being a mom who worked full-time. What I have enjoyed most about the book is hearing the perspectives of so many different women, who come at motherhood from different upbringings, with widely varying careers, and with unique and insightful views on what it means to be a mother. Despite their different viewpoints, I felt like I could relate to each and every one of them. I am actually currently on extended leave from my full-time job on what will likely be 4 months of bedrest in anticipation of our second child, so the perspectives on work and motherhood have really hit home for me! I was unable to put this book down and finished it a day - the short story/essay format is awesome and I have already recommended it to many of my mom friends!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. Huffman on January 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a full-time working mom struggling to find balance between motherhood, career, family and wife, this book was a blessing.

If you are looking for a how-to guide, or even solutions to do the above, you won't find it in this book.

Rather, you'll find essays written by women who have either "been there" or are going through it now. For me, these stories created a sense that I wasn't alone in the day-to-day struggle of modern motherhood. Some of the stories gave me insights into how to find that balance, while others gave me perspective. The stories are written from the perspective of women who continue to manage a full-time job to those who work part-time, and those who are full-time moms. They share their ups, downs, stumbles and triumphs. In each one, you get a sense that there is no solution. Rather, every woman, such as those featured in this book, have the ability to be the mother they want to be, rather than what society might dictate.

I highly recommend this book to every mother, new or otherwise. It was a great read, and my only regret is that it ended.
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