McCarter has put together a phenomenal anthology on motherhood and loss. The prose, poetry, and art cover diverse situations, ranging from infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth and SIDS to adoption, disability, and illness. There is even work discussing the relationship with and/or death of one's own mother.
The collection starts with a poignant introduction by McCarter stating why she put this anthology together. The book is organized in 5 sections which loosely follow the Kubler-Ross stages of grief. McCarter provides an intro to each section describing the theme. The contributors are as diverse as the topics. Some are well-published, and for others, this anthology is their first publishing credit. International perspectives on motherhood and loss are represented. The artwork is heartbreakingly beautiful.
In her intro, McCarter writes: I have realized that, in every action of mothering, of being mothered, of wanting to mother, we live in the space between joy and grief, sometimes gravitating to one more than the other. This anthology reflects this space between joy and grief.
Indeed it does. This is a book to be re-read, shared with friends, given as a gift, and donated to agencies and support groups helping parents cope with the loss of a child.
I've never lost a child nor suffered from infertiity...but I lost touch with a birth mother when I was but a child, and lost the opportunity to be a granny until I was as old as most great-grandmothers. So I empathize with the writers in this book who have expressed beautifully how aspects of the loss of mother/child expectations have impacted their lives. I'm certain anybody who has similar experiences will be heartened by these stories of how others have dealt with the interruption of natural expectations. You'll find the selected illustrations simply breathtaking. If you'd had such a loss, you'll find that this is a house of mirrors...not an instruction manual. You'll identify with some reflections and puzzle over others. The collection will leave you with a more profound understanding of joy...interrupted.
"I wanted to be his mother, to feel the bond between us, to caress him with affection that falls down softly like leaves." ~ pg. 15
"Joy Interrupted" is a collection of stories and poems put together by Melissa McCarter who lost her baby to SIDS. She has truly created a book that makes women who have experienced the loss of a child feel much less alone. I was expecting to feel sad when reading this book, yet I did not expect the book to be so beautifully written.
Some of the subjects covered in the stories and poems include denial, anger, depression, a feeling of loss, guilt and acceptance. There is also the joy of becoming pregnant. Some of the mothers question God but mostly this book is not religious. It also has stories from many cultures.
The poetry in this book is excellent and I was impressed with the quality and how mothers expressed themselves with vivid language. I also loved the short fiction story called "The Island." Then there is a nightmare that is interesting and speaks of fear of losing a mother. I also enjoyed reading the twenty questions a mother asks the birth mother of her adopted child.
You may not agree with all the women's choices and only two stories hint at abortion. In those stories there did not seem to be any feelings of regret.
I am glad Melissa McCarter took the risk of writing this book as it will lead people to being more empathetic. It is also a safe place to mourn the loss of a child. The first half of the book made me cry a lot but the second half was easier to read.
~The Rebecca Review
I received this book free for review. This review is my honest opinion.
Joy, Interrupted: An anthology on Motherhood and Loss, Melissa Miles McCarter, editor
Be prepared to smile with understanding at the joys of motherhood's anticipation and love, then cry with sadness at the heartache of the loss of mothers' hopes and dreams.
This anthology offers a range of stories, poetry, artwork, essays, all snapshots of the love mothers have for their children and the wrenching anguish that alters their universe when they experience losses such as when a child dies, is ill, estranged, or does not materialize due to infertility. Melissa has gathered so many stories from amazing mothers, internationally acclaimed artists and writers, weaving their many faces of loss into a quilt of love and emotion. She introduces each section with her own personal feelings, thoughts, and shared story. Some of those section titles speak volumes: No, Furies, Plea, Longing, and Acceptance. They draw you in and grab your soul.
Mothers all over the world wish for the same thing, a healthy baby and a long and lovely life. As Margaret Kramar expresses in her piece titled Soap Opera, "Mothers have universally thought that this couldn't be my baby, no, not my baby." Unfortunately, her baby was "not `normal' at birth," but was eventually determined to have Sotos syndrome which brings a variety of lifelong problems.
Poignant, creative, compelling, inspiring, woeful, hopeful, and wisely soulful...meet the village of mothers who will touch your heart if you have had your own loss and teach your mind if you wish to better understand and support them.