After The End by Clare Mackintosh | Putnam | Book Review

book review at Gen The Bookworm

Book Summary:

“Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They’re best friends, lovers—unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son. 
 
What if they could have both?
 
A gripping and propulsive exploration of love, marriage, parenthood, and the road not taken, After the End brings one unforgettable family from unimaginable loss to a surprising, satisfying, and redemptive ending and the life they are fated to find. With the emotional power of Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, Mackintosh helps us to see that sometimes the end is just another beginning.”

Publication Date:

June 25, 2019

Genre:

Family Saga Fiction

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My Review:

After The End by Clare Mackintosh was a little under the radar for me until I started seeing raving reviews pop up on Instagram. My book list is a mile high this time of year but I am also easily persuaded which is why I never do too much planning with my monthly reading goals…I like to read by how I am feeling and also by what grabs my attention. After seeing this book mentioned a few times by some of my favorite Bookstagrammers, I knew I needed to read it.

I have read Clare Mackintosh’s writing in the past, and this work of fiction was a departure from her “thriller” style I was used to…I love when authors can mix it up, and Mackintosh totally succeeded.

After The End is a beautiful and absolutely heart-wrenching book to read. Told in alternating points of view, a husband and wife are faced with one of the most challenging choices you could make as parents, and they don’t have the same opinion. This book detailed the highs and lows of marriage and parenthood and what it means to make the “right” choice for your child.

Whether you are a parent or not, this topic is heavy. As a parent of young children myself, this was especially devastating and I could relate to both perspectives which I think was her very intention. I love books that make you feel and also that make you think and she nailed this.

Mackintosh shares in her own author’s note how this topic connected to the loss of her own son which made this writing even more powerful. Her ability to write with such vivid and gut-wrenching details came partly from the loss she and her husband faced a decade ago. Mackintosh writes so poignantly and the characters are so raw and real that this book reads partly like non-fiction, which in some ways, it is. Highly recommend.

 

Coffee Talk | Currently Loving…Summer Fruit, Pool Life, Shellac Nails, Library Book Sales & Turning Nine!

Book Blog

Checking-in:

Hello and happy Thursday. How is your week going? As many wonderful things that have happened during the last few weeks, it has also had its fair share of challenges and sadness. I often struggle with how to balance sharing a lot of my life on a public platform while also bearing in mind that we all have harder realities of everyday life that are more private.

It is a hectic time in general with work and family life and I am thankful to have so many great support systems in place that really make such a big difference with the harder parts of life. Alright, I think that was important to say, as I tend to share some of our “highlight reel” in photos on these Currently Loving posts.

So here is a little of what we have been up to…

Swimming Life

Our family wrapped up the swim meet season last week and our practices will be winding down soon too. It has been such a wonderful part of our summer. Having something that is daily works really well for us because it gets us out of the house by a certain time each day and gives us some structure that can be really hard to find this time of year.

Our boys made so much progress this summer. The swim team has been a great reminder and conversation starter about doing our best and being kind and supportive to both our teammates, competitors and ourselves. I will miss our swimming community so much but there is always next year!

Daily swimming means we are at the pool all the time. It isn’t a bad place to be and with great wifi, it makes it a great place to catch up on work. The boys practice at the same time now which if you have ever had kids on different team schedules you know what is a gift this is!

Berries galore

We are lucky to live near so many wonderful family farms and that means this time of year we are picking all the berries. We were excited to drive down the road to opening day at Adam’s Berry Farm and the berries were incredible! We didn’t last too long because it was during our brief summer heatwave so we will be back!

Library Book Sale

After berry picking, we headed to the annual town library book sale! I love supporting the library(and it’s upcoming renovation!) stocking up on past favorites and also grabbing some to share with friends! 💓

Between the kids and me we brought three totes bags and it wasn’t enough! Next year we need a duffle bag. 🤣 ⁣
library book sale kids books

We arrived early and waited in line for about 10 minutes and it was worth sweating through our clothes. We picked up so many picture books including a bunch of golden books. Flynn also added some super informative books to our collection…first words in Italian and a guide to venomous animals, ha!

Lake Life on a Hot Summer Day…

We headed out on the boat and it was the best way to cool down. Although with the intense heat it also means there can be fast approaching summer storms. This one snuck in and surprised us and while it was very interesting to see from the boat, we were eager to get back to dry land.

Shellac Nails Home Removal

IMG_6670

You know I love to discuss the random and obscure and I thought it was a great time to share about my shellac nails experience. I almost never paint my nails but I do always have shellac on my toenails. I get a shellac pedicure every 4-5 weeks and it is a great and long-lasting way to keep them looking nice when I am quite rough on regular nail polish.

For the wedding a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to get my nails done and so I ended up getting a shellac manicure two days before the wedding. It lasted a good 10 days or so before they started to look a little rough and I needed to get it off ASAP. They were also starting to get longer which I don’t like the feeling of…I do a lot of computer work and it was driving me crazy! Anyway, I knew I could go in and have it removed but it really wasn’t something I could easily fit into our schedule.

So off I went to the pharmacy… I grabbed a container of full-on acetone and some cotton balls.  At first, I tried the wrapping method with soaked cotton balls and tin foil, similar to the way they remove it at the nail salon. Then I changed tactics and did the soaking method on my other hand…as suggested by the Pioneer Woman of all people…

I found that the soaking method worked better and because I don’t have a lot of nail tools, I used the end of a measuring spoon to have push off the remaining polish which was quite effective…I am nothing if not resourceful, ha!

So I am not saying this is the most non-toxic method, but I think if you are going the shellac route you know that isn’t either…I was very pleased with how easy it was and I am super happy to have short and naked nails once again! I didn’t find that it damaged them in any way and I would definitely do shellac again for a special event, I just don’t have the patience to keep up with something like that in my everyday life.

Creemees & AC

It’s totally normal to take a photo to send to your kids when you have a creemee without them right?! Don’t worry, they were off having a special dinner and having ice cream after but we couldn’t resist. Buzz spent a lot of time indoors during the heatwave because it is just so hard to keep dogs cool. We are thankful to have AC and lots of ceiling fans.

Turning Nine!

Someone in our family turned NINE! For some reason, this number is hitting me hard. Maybe it is because it is halfway to 18 or maybe it is just because I can remember when I was nine so vividly…I know he is still so young but he really is growing up so quickly.

The past nine years have been filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Parenting is such a gift and it is also the hardest thing I have ever done. I am so grateful to have a child that is kind, understanding and helps us learn and grow every day. 

And when you turn nine you have cinnamon rolls for breakfast and sushi and hibachi for dinner…seems pretty perfect to me!

Alright, that is all for now. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week. <3

All The Rage: Mothers, Fathers and the Myth of Equal Partnership by Darcy Lockman | Harper | Book Review

All The Rage: Darcy Lockman

All The Rage: Mothers, Fathers, and the Myth of Equal Partnership

Book Summary:

Journalist-turned-psychologist Darcy Lockman offers a clear-eyed look at the most pernicious problem facing modern parents—how progressive relationships become traditional ones when children are introduced into the household.

In an era of seemingly unprecedented feminist activism, enlightenment, and change, data shows that one area of gender inequality stubbornly persists: the disproportionate amount of parental work that falls to women, no matter their background, class, or professional status. All the Rage investigates the cause of this pervasive inequity to answer why, in households where both parents work full-time and agree that tasks should be equally shared, mothers’ household management, mental labor, and childcare contributions still outweigh fathers’. 

How, in a culture that pays lip service to women’s equality and lauds the benefits of father involvement—benefits that extend far beyond the well-being of the kids themselves—can a commitment to fairness in marriage melt away upon the arrival of children?

Counting on male partners who will share the burden, women today have been left with what political scientists call unfulfilled, rising expectations. Historically these unmet expectations lie at the heart of revolutions, insurgencies, and civil unrest. If so many couples are living this way, and so many women are angered or just exhausted by it, why do we remain so stuck? Where is our revolution, our insurgency, our civil unrest?

Darcy Lockman drills deep to find answers, exploring how the feminist promise of true domestic partnership almost never, in fact, comes to pass. Starting with her own marriage as a ground zero case study, she moves outward, chronicling the experiences of a diverse cross-section of women raising children with men; visiting new mothers’ groups and pioneering co-parenting specialists; and interviewing experts across academic fields, from gender studies professors and anthropologists to neuroscientists and primatologists. Lockman identifies three tenets that have upheld the cultural gender division of labor and peels back the ways in which both men and women unintentionally perpetuate old norms.

If we can all agree that equal pay for equal work should be a given, can the same apply to unpaid work? Can justice finally come home?

Publication Date:

May 5th, 2019

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

My Review:

I listened to All The Rage on Audible and wow, what a powerful read! Darcy Lockman shares a well researched and relatable look at social expectations, male privilege, and sexism when it comes to parenting in the 21st century. Lockman uses studies, research, interviews with parents, and her own personal experiences which results in a well balanced and deeply impactful look at the gender inequity that working mothers still face today and the mental load women face as mothers.

Who Should Read This?

Whether you are a parent or thinking about becoming one someday, this book is so insightful and thought-provoking. I appreciated Lockman’s personal experiences as they related to many issues we faced in our own experiences as partners and parents. While many people think “this won’t happen to me” a large percentage of family’s fall into the expectations that have become ingrained in our society.

Lockman shares…

“In the language of family studies, women and men do not develop the same ‘parental consciousness’ when they transition into mother- and fatherhood; they continue on separate and unequal paths of knowing or not knowing as their children change and grow. Parental consciousness is the awareness of the needs of children accompanied by the steady process of thinking about those needs. Women have come to call it the mental load, and in those relatively egalitarian households where men share daycare pickup and put away clean laundry, it’s the aspect of childrearing most likely…to ‘stimulate marital tension between mothers and fathers”

Reactions to All The Rage:

I have loved reading the reviews for this book on Goodreads and they vary greatly. Many shared that this book was depressing, filled with anger, bitterness and/or a dig at men. I did find this book to be hard to listen to at times, but mostly because I wish I had been able to read this before I became a parent! I think anything that makes you feel strongly is wonderful because it gets you thinking.

I learned a lot about why we are the way we are and so much of it has been entrenched in our society and family dynamics for centuries even as women’s roles have changed and evolved so much over time.  It doesn’t matter how much you think “this won’t happen to us!” it is very easy to fall into being the “default” parent once parenthood hits you like a ton of bricks.

I think it is important to state that this doesn’t mean your partner is a terrible person or sits around doing nothing. The emotional labor of motherhood is hard to explain but it is real and many women feel like they are just drowning in it. The invisible mental load of motherhood is often the hardest and because it is hard to “see” it is also the hardest to change.

What We Have Learned So Far…

One of the biggest learning lessons my husband and I have (slowly) figured out during our 9 years of parenting together is that talking about something before it happens is always the way to go. Talking early and talking often is key and allows us to discuss our hopes and expectations before the resentment and disappointment build up because it inevitably will.

When our first son arrived in 2019 we quickly fell into the assumed roles of parenthood with little to no discussion about what that might look or feel like. 9 years later we have worked hard to establish better equity and partnership in our home but deeply ingrained norms are hard to change and the pressures come from outside of the home as well. This is a continued work in progress as our family grows and changes over time. We definitely have it all figured out but we work hard on it every day.

My Takeaway…

I highly recommend this book and would really recommend it for people who are hoping to have a family someday. There is so much power when we have the ability to reflect and make choices proactively. While Lockman didn’t have all the answers, she gives many tools for us to reflect on what we can change and do in our own lives to help with parity and equity in parenthood.