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Baby Love Hardcover – March 22, 2007

3.5 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author of Black, White and Jewish gives voice to the uncertainty of her generation in a powerful new memoir. In journal format, beginning with the day her pregnancy is confirmed and ending as she and her partner bring their son home, Walker tells of her physical and emotional journey toward motherhood, poignantly reflecting on the ambivalence that has delayed her dream of having a child for years. Like many 20- and 30-somethings, she was raised to view partnership and parenthood as the least empowering choices in an infinite array of options. This tension comes to the fore as Walker's mother, Alice Walker, opposes her decision to have a baby and challenges her account of their relationship in Black, White and Jewish. Alice ends their relationship and removes Rebecca from her will, and Rebecca endures a tumultuous pregnancy, estranged from her mother as she prepares to become one herself. Elusive health complications arise, and she hops from doctor to doctor, ever wary of Western medicine. Through a lengthy litany of decisions (midwife versus M.D., stroller versus "travel system"), she Googles her way to information overload. At the end of this nine-month mental tug-of-war, she emerges changed: a meat eater, a committed partner with a renewed faith in intimacy, a new woman plus-one. Walker's story is accessible and richly textured, told with humor, wit and warmth. (Mar.)
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Review

Those of us who have followed Rebecca Walker have come to expect a brilliant journey, one that locates the balance between reason and emotion, blood and sinew. Baby Love does not disappoint. Rebecca Walker's offering does what all finely crafted memoirs should seek to do: expose the experience of the writer but only to illumine the experience of the reader. As a daughter, but most of all as a mother I read this book and was transformed. -- Asha Bandele, author of The Prisoner's Wife: A Memoir

Walker sways on a kind of scary, sublime suspension bridge, stretched between being somebody's child and becoming somebody's mother, and turning her fiercely compassionate intelligence to both. Thanks to her unique vision, the familiar views along the way become nothing short of astounding. -- Catherine Newman, author of Waiting for Birdy
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; First Edition edition (March 22, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594489432
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594489433
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,471,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Rebecca Walker writes honestly and eloquently of the many feelings and beliefs she has carried over the years about becoming a mother. The subtitle of her book, choosing motherhood after a lifetime of ambivalence, together with her main title, telegraphs the denouement of her story; namely, that her ambivalence takes a decidedly positive turn at some point in her story. Her change of heart is not a simple matter, and she shares the complex and often subtle experiences that ultimately change her.

The book is written as a diary in a style that is informal and pleasantly conversational. The topics are many, such as working versus motherhood, fears of having a baby, indecision (once deciding to have it) as to where to have it (at home or in a hospital), the complexities of relationship, and so many more. None of theses are new issues, to be sure, but each is pondered thoughtfully from differing aspects and the reader is invited to ponder them as well.

I was impressed by Walker's willingness to share her vulnerabilities, to reveal the lessons she has learned over time such as her tendency to "mother" others--to shower others with the emotional support that she craved but had not received as a child. She credits Glen, the man with whom she eventually would have her child, for much of her increased self-understanding, for his help with her moodiness, her depression, her sometimes disabling insecurities. He is consistently present and supportive, though never agreeing simply to please her. His intelligent rebuttals to some of her ideas bring an additional depth and dimension to the story.

Walker makes no secret of her antagonistic relationship with her own mother (author Alice Walker).
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Format: Hardcover
I read this book in two sittings and have meant to write the review for several days now. I can't decide if it mostly narcissistice drivel or just occasionally dripping with narcissism. I enjoyed some parts of the book, but my copy is filled with comments penciled in the margins. I'm still processing the book.

I will say that some parts of this book would have made more sense if the reader read her previous book, _Black, White and Jewish_ where she tears into her mother and offers a memoir that will make you vacillate between feeling sorry for her and then wondering how in the hell she could be so damn egocentric.

That said, this book is like the book end to the previous book with the diatribe(s) against her famous mother. She is obviously working through her issues regarding too much freedom that she was given by her parents. What has troubled me between those two particular books (and I have read her other books/anthologies and many of her essays) is the way that she places full blame or most of the blame for her ambivalence and sense of not being loved on her mother.

Is it easier for her to attack her mother or does she just make it easier? I'm not sure what the answer is, but I think that she is overly harsh or perhaps not harsh enough on her dad.

Granted, her mother has said some unbelievably cruel things to her. Her mother was trying to raise her w/ choice, independence, and in the process didn't give her enough attention. And, it appears that RW blames her ambivalence and failed relationships wholeheartedly on her mother. I could have done with less of the Alice Walker blaming and more of her musings.

What really troubled me w/ this book was the poor editing.
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Format: Hardcover
The narcissim, banality and lack of intelligent thought in this book is simply stunning. I am a new mother, and I cannot fathom how this book would have been useful to me during pregnancy; certainly not in retrospect. Because I also share a lot of Walker's racial/sexual/class/political experience I bought this immediately. I was deeply offended by a lot of her claims about feminism and what she insinuates about lesbian vs. heterosexual parenting, but truly jaw-dropping is her assertion about biological vs. non-biological parenting. She is so unable to get past herself, and so unable to recognize that her first stab at "parenting" was more playing house with an immature rocker and less the stuff of intentional motherhood. Perhaps that is part of what undermines the bond with her son that she then goes on to universalize. The revelations about the breach with her mother are frankly embarassing, and again, feel self-serving--like a desperate stab to hook a readership that she can't otherwise win and hold.
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Format: Hardcover
I think the author seemed confused rather than ambivalent... the book offers no clear thinking through her own motives for this constant theme through her work: one-sided blaming. The writing is one dimensional and ascribes a lot of dark motives to many, except Rebecca.

Something cutting about her piecemeal narratives, esp her cold claim about the only kind of 'real' experience of being a mother is to give birth. She's a couple years shy of 40 years old and sees her body aging...well. What can be said about that. So much of the material here sounds like a 12 year old rather than a mature woman equal to her years.

For new mothers, I would recommend Ann Lamott's work, all of it. She is a very real mother who writes with deep love about various kinds of ambivilance and certitude regarding her precious son; she a single mother. Lamott has the gift of simple narrative that is literature without grunting with the effort to write litter-a-toor as Rebecca seems to try to do.

The thing is, there's a dearth of writings for new mothers, and mothers to be and adoptive mothers... fanning peacock writing like 'baby love' wont cut it for most.

If 'baby love' were a book by a person named Rebecca Smith, I think few people would look at it. Considering her tiresome writing m.o. of dissing her mother, (which also has this odd gloss to it; it just doesnt ring true... her examples of how badly she's been treated sound like a spoiled child complaining they only got everything except two things they wanted and they are really mad. Truly abused children carry an entirely different timbre) I wonder why she didnt keep her father's name instead.
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