Book Reviews

Letters to my donor from parents to donor  by National Gamete Donation Trust (2014)

5/5 Stars - May 2014

Letters to my donor from parents to donor by National Gamete Donation Trust (2014)

With so many people struggling with fertility issues the use of eggs or sperm from a donor is the only way that they will ever be able to achieve a pregnancy. People who have never experienced the pain and trauma of infertility will find it hard to picture the difficulties faced by couples for whom conception does not come easily. This book gives a fascinating insight into the huge impact that egg and sperm donation has on people’s lives. The letters are inspiring stories of gratitude and thanks from parents to those whose generosity in donating has given them their families.

Donations are usually anonymous at the time they are made and this opportunity to write an open ‘thank you’ letter is such a unique experience. There are also a few letters from donors to their recipients, explaining why they decided to donate. The book aims to raise awareness of donation and is bound to encourage people to consider becoming donors. These letters serve as a true celebration of life and what it means to be human. A life-affirming book! 

Family by choice: platonic partnered parenting  Word Birth Publishing (2014) - by Rachel Hope

5/5 Stars - May 2014

Family by choice: platonic partnered parenting Word Birth Publishing (2014) - by Rachel Hope

Partnered Parenting refers to possible arrangements for parenting in which the parents are not in a marital or romantic relationship with one another. The author had grown up in a divorced family and was determined to avoid these negative effect on her own children. She embarked on a parenting partnership agreement with the father of her first child, at a time when such decisions were very rare. She has since formed another partnership for the birth of her second child and intends to have two more biological children. Her experiences as both a foster parent and an adoptive parent have provided her with a unique insight into the emotional needs of children and the importance of stable relationships during their formative years.

Partnered Parenting can be the answer to several problems, such as relieving the pressure of finding the “perfect” life partner, avoiding the worry of waiting too long and thus causing fertility problems, being romantically involved with someone who can’t have children or doesn’t want a family. This book focuses on practical issues: Is partnered parenting right for you? What’s the best way to screen potential partners on the Internet? What’s a co-parenting courtship like? Will a partnered parenting contact be fair, effective, and legal? 

The layout and font make it very easy to read and it is an excellent guide to a complex issue.

Relative strangers: family life, genes and donor conception  Palgrave Macmillan (2014)  - by Petra Nordqvist and Carol Smart

5/5 Stars - May 2014

Relative strangers: family life, genes and donor conception Palgrave Macmillan (2014) - by Petra Nordqvist and Carol Smart

As would be expected from the imprint, this is a very learned publication. It is part of the series Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life, which is focusing on the   sociological exploration of intimate relationships and family organisation. The authors are highly respected academics working at Manchester University's School of Social Sciences.   Professor Carol Smart is currently Co-Director of the Morgan Centre for the Study of Relationships and Personal Life at the university and Dr Nordqvist is a lecturer. They worked together from 2010 to 2013 on a study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) into assisted conception and wider family relationships. This study addressed how heterosexual and same-sex couples with donor conceived children negotiate sharing information about gamete donation and genetic difference with wider family. 

The book is aimed at sociologists and those working in the field of family life and reproductive technologies. Since 1991 more than 35,000 children have been born in the UK as a result of donor conception, and these advances are raising new and important questions about family life, with more families facing the issue of incorporating 'relative strangers' into their families. This book uses in-depth interviews with parents (both lesbian and heterosexual) and grandparents of donor conceived children. 

It covers areas as diverse as different perceptions of families and what they mean, the impact of donor conception on families and the donors themselves, the dilemma of secrecy versus openness and the importance of genes in our view of kinship. With reproductive medical technologies becoming more accessible, the issues raised by these advances need to be understood and addressed. This book will provide compelling reading for all those interested in the family, kinship, gender and sexuality, new reproductive technologies, and genetics. 

The index is comprehensive and the appendices, notes and bibliography provide a wealth of information and further reading. 
 

Precious babies: pregnancy, birth and parenting after infertility - by Kate Brian

4/5 Stars

Precious babies: pregnancy, birth and parenting after infertility - by Kate Brian

The author has herself experienced fertility problems and specialises in issues surrounding fertility. She is a freelance writer and editor and has published other books on the subject. Her own experiences of coping with IVF have prompted her to write this book to help others who are undergoing the same difficulties. 
She writes about the practical and emotional issues, and provides numerous case histories and advice from medical consultants, fertility experts and those working closely with couples affected by this problem. She discusses pregnancy, miscarriage, birth, postnatal problems, parenting, size of the family and many other issues. 

Her style is jargon-free and the book tackles the questions asked by couples experiencing fertility problems. It is easy to read, has a good index and contains a list of agencies, together with their website addresses, who can provide extra help and support. The only criticism is that the text is inclined to be repetitive, especially in the early chapters, but this does not detract from the readability and the comprehensive coverage of an emotional and difficult subject. 

This is an excellent book which will be of help to people experiencing the emotional rollercoaster of dealing with fertility problems. 

The Two Week Wait - Written by Sarah Rayner

4/5 Stars

The Two Week Wait - Written by Sarah Rayner

I found this to be an extremely readable, well written, thought provoking book. The characters are true to life, engaging and their circumstances believable. The writer sends you on an emotional rollercoaster ride through the high, lows and pitfalls in the battle to have a baby. She explores tough issues such as single sex families with sensitivity and understanding. It gives a very realistic account of what you can expect to happen when you travel down the IVF route.

If I had to criticize it, I would say it has been poorly proof read. There are quite a number of grammatical errors that can jar your senses and detracts from your enjoyment.

I WANT to have A CHILD. Whatever it takes!  - Written by Carman Martinez Jover.

5/5 Stars

I WANT to have A CHILD. Whatever it takes! - Written by Carman Martinez Jover.

My goodness what a woman! I defy anyone to read this book and not feel like an underachiever. Of course she doesn't set out to make you feel like that but you have to admire a woman who has achieved so much in one short lifetime. She has taken all her trials and tribulations, sucked them all in and, by drawing strength from her incredible faith, has managed to claw her way through the darkest time of her life and come out the other side a stronger and more confident person. Way to go Carmen. I'm going to take leaf out of your book. 

Feminist Technology - Edited by Linda L. Layne, Sharra L. Vostral and Kate Boyer

3/5 Stars

Feminist Technology - Edited by Linda L. Layne, Sharra L. Vostral and Kate Boyer

This is a well written and thoroughly researched book, which sets out to ask the question 'Is there such thing as feminist technology?'. The contributors cover case studies of possible feminist technologies including birth control pills, tampons, breast pumps and self insemination products. Feminist technology is definitely aimed at the academic reader and if you are studying a degree in anthropology it may be worth looking at. However it certainly does not have an 'easy to read' writing style.

The Gift of Life by Keily J Adey

5/5 Stars

The Gift of Life by Keily J Adey

A truly outstanding and honest book written from the heart. The emotional turmoil of trying to conceive is a journey that can be thrown upon you like a bolt of lightening. When it strikes your world can literally be turned upside down in the blink of an eye. The benefits to those that read “The Gift of Life” that are at the start of this journey, make this book an absolute must to read. 

Both Keily and Pauls journey was certainly a difficult one, with twists and turns, however it does provide hope as well as discussing the options available. It helps the reader to understand the complex terminology quite often used within the fertility sector, as well as practical advice. 

A very useful book for anyone undergoing fertility treatment, and a great tool for family and friends to also appreciate and support someone that they know are going through this quandary. 

The story of our family: a book for lesbian families with children conceived by donor insemination  by Petra Thorn and Lisa Green

5/5 Stars - Sept 2014

The story of our family: a book for lesbian families with children conceived by donor insemination by Petra Thorn and Lisa Green

This picture book aims to support parents in explaining conception via DI to their children. The authors have targeted the book at children aged between three to six years of age, as this is the age when children begin to ask questions about their own origins and are asked questions about their family by their peers. 

Petra Thorn has adapted her book "The story of our family" with the help of Lisa Green, who is a lesbian mother of three children conceived by DI. The adaptation is excellent, with the authors allowing for the differences in how lesbian families are created and in the differing family names used. 

The illustrations and text are of a high quality and are ideal for the target audience. The authors have even provided 'photo frames' at the beginning and end of the book so that parents can insert photographs to make the contents more personal to their children. Both methods of insemination (medically assisted DI and self-insemination) are explained, again to personalise the book 

With the story of Lisa Green's family, together with biographical notes on the authors and the illustrator, I cannot recommend this book too highly. It is the perfect way to explain both the process and the emotions to all children, both within and outside the family. 

Recipes of How Babies are Made - Written by Carmen Martinez Jover Illustrations by Rosemary Martinez

5/5 Stars

Recipes of How Babies are Made - Written by Carmen Martinez Jover Illustrations by Rosemary Martinez

This book is a beautifully illustrated, simplified, foray into the minefield of, "where do babies come from?" I've lost count of the number of blunders I made whilst trying to explain this very same subject to each of my three children when the age old question eventually reared its ugly head. I wish I had had this book to read with them when they were young because now I've read it I realise that I absolutely sucked at it. My advice would be, if you have young children, get this book in ready for when the inevitable question crops up and save yourself the trauma of feeling like you've scarred your kids mentally for life.

The Baby Kangaroo Treasure Hunt. A gay parenting story. - Written by Carmen Martinez Jover, Illustrated by Rosemary Martinez

5/5 Stars

The Baby Kangaroo Treasure Hunt. A gay parenting story. - Written by Carmen Martinez Jover, Illustrated by Rosemary Martinez

Carmen has a fantastic way of shooting straight through the heart of sensitive issues. With the help of her sisters incredible illustrations, she manages to simplify how 
children can be born to single sexed families in an uncomplicated, stress-free, caring and loving way. I applaud her ability to jump right over the obvious pitfalls this subject can give rise to. She explains the scenario matter-of-factly and without judgment. Using kangaroos as the subject was absolutely ingenious. Carmen Martinez Jover.. you rock!

A tiny itsy bitsy GIFT OF LIFE. An egg donor story. Written by Carmen Martinez Jover, illustrated by Rosemary Martinez.

5/5 Stars

A tiny itsy bitsy GIFT OF LIFE. An egg donor story. Written by Carmen Martinez Jover, illustrated by Rosemary Martinez.

I love this author and, combined with her sisters’ wonderful illustrations, her ability to simplify complex and sensitive issues. This book allows children, born under less conventional methods, to understand the way they were conceived in a caring, non-judgmental and loving way. There are two versions of the same book. The illustrations are the only difference. One book produces a female child and the other version produces a male child so parents can pick the right book for their corresponding child.

LAUGHING IS CONCEIVABLE - Written by Lori Shandle-Fox

5/5 Stars

LAUGHING IS CONCEIVABLE - Written by Lori Shandle-Fox

This is a very readable and entertaining book. It explores the authors own true-life experiences into the emotional battleground of fertility treatment, using a heavy dose of irony and self-mirth as a tool to maintain her sanity during an extremely trying period of her life. Personally, I admire a woman who can go through the heart wrenching, gut-twisting traumas associated with IVF and who is still able to retain a razor-sharp sense of humour. Hopefully, this book will help to alleviate the suffering of others, either going through or about to embark on this very difficult journey. I believe the author is correct in her assertions that laughter is healing and would encourage anyone, who is unfortunate enough to find themselves in a similar situation, to take a leaf out of her book.

Pride & Joy Review - by Sarah and Rachel Hagger-Holt

5/5 Stars - Oct 2017

Pride & Joy Review - by Sarah and Rachel Hagger-Holt

If you are considering becoming LGBT parents or already are an LGBT family then this book 'Pride and Joy: A guide for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parents' is for you. In addition is serves as an excellent resource for families of LGBT people or professionals alike who would benefit from the non biased and real life stories about how gay, lesbian and transgender people have achieved their family, through many different routes.

Sarah and Rachel Hagger-Holt’s easy-to-read LGBT parenting guide shows that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to creating their family, but rather many different routes to take, which will hopefully lead to the same outcome - a loving and secure family.

This book features a diversity of stories for whatever your own situation, there’s likely to be a similar one covered, along with inspiration and reassurance that it’s probably all going to work out. And just in case, there are helpful tips at the end if most chapters to provide practical advice, or to prompt further thinking.

Pride and Joy covers the history of LGBT legislation and reminds us how far we have come not only in changes in law but also changes in attitude within the last 25 years. Some will recall a time when non-bio parents were not legally recognised and found difficulties being accepted as parents within schools and hospitals. Thankfully times are changing.  

The book also reminds us of the current restrictions and public opinion about the nature of ‘proper’ families. The law still only allows for  one or two registered legal parents, which does not always consider ‘donor dads’ or ‘special aunties’. Indeed LGBT families come in all shapes and sizes, which may involve three, four or even more primary parent figures.

Whether you are considering adoption, fostering, donor conception or co-parenting, as a way of creating your family, Pride and Joy is refreshingly honest coverage of parenting options, which  is clearly written from past experience and with love, which will help you feel that you are certainly not alone.