Book Review: The Birth House by Ami McKay

Book Review:

The Birth House by Ami McKay

12.10.2011

By Zara Alexis D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

 

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Category: Fiction

Author: Ami McKay

Format: Hardcover, 400 pages

Publisher: Knopf Canada

ISBN: 978-0676977721

Pub Date: February 16, 2006

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The story is not so much a story about birthing as it is one of the evolution of becoming re-born. There is character development—and then there are characters that already have everything they need to engage you with ease, curiosity, nostalgia, and a little spunk.

This book is about a number of struggles. A tension between choosing and ultimately accepting the dichotomies of our lives: what it means to be a woman embedded in the rural roots of the Bay of Fundy, Maritimes and what it could mean to be a woman witnessing the narrow streets filled with heavy brick buildings of a modernizing city called Boston; to the struggle of keeping the sentimentality, spirituality, and instinctive old wisdom of traditional midwifery versus the collision it faces with the sterility of new and upcoming science, technology, and modern medicine.

This is a story about women, for women—the empowerment needed to realize autonomy over choices, especially if those choices have to do with a woman’s body—her fertility, her pregnancy, her labour, her sex life, and the secrets of her desires.

It’s also about community, home, and the special relationship women can and do have with one another, exclusive of their partners, or the male-dominated assumptions that can be imposed upon them, and the circumstances of a changing world.

In the face of fierce opposition, women in this novel bond, grow, and struggle together as fiercely as labour itself, to not reclaim themselves—but to proclaim themselves according to an identity that is acceptable to each of them on a personal level.

It’s a tribute to the female struggle and the glorious gift we have been given as women: the tolerance and endurance to suffer pain and tragedy in order to make a life, carry it, save it, and also potentially live it: generation by generation; one moon; one prayer; one stitch, and one choice at a time.

A fierce and lovely novel about womanhood, motherhood, companionship, and birthing.

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Zara’s Rating

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Have you ever given birth to a child?

What do you find the most difficult about labour?

In what ways can you empower yourself and others through the birthing process?

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