By Claire Dederer
San Francisco magazine, February 2007
In her first two books, Schoolgirls and Flux, Peggy Orenstein turned the stories of ordinary girls and women into gripping reading. Here, she turns away from others’ tales to something more personal: an account of the six years she spent trying to get pregnant. In her quest for a child, she had to deal with breast cancer, failed in vitro attempts, clinical “fertility sex,” estrangement from her husband, and profound self-doubt. Orenstein describes all this with admirable honesty. But honest memoirs are nothing special: they fill the shelves at the bookstore. What sets this book apart is the way Orenstein uses her reporting skills. When she visits an ex-boyfriend who’s now an Orthodox Jew, she provides a detailed portrait of his life with his wife and their 15 children. When she travels to Japan we get an investigation into the way that culture ritualizes miscarriage. Best of all, she brings her erudition and intelligence to bear on her own experience.