“[TORN] is filled with the voices of women trying to solve an impossible equation, all doing the best they can. These nearly four dozen writers include a wide swath of the real world – attorneys and professors, software designers and social workers, soldiers and stay-at-home moms. They live on good incomes, and reduced incomes, and, in one case, on welfare. They are married, divorced and single. They are, as a group, far more educated than average, but so, too, I have learned, are Motherlode readers. They write about big things (cancer, depression, regrets, teen pregnancy, readjusting to being a mom after being a soldier in Iraq) and small (worm bins, cupcakes, speeding tickets, Dora the Explorer, dirty diapers.) All of them have one thing in common – they have all compromised. Whether theirs is a compromise they can live with is the central question.”
– Lisa Belkin, The New York Times “Motherlode” Columnist
“For those of us who live in a constant state of anxiety about how we’ve compromised our careers for our kids or the other way around, books about the the work/life balance and how other women have dealt with it remain perennially interesting. [TORN] is a welcome addition to this body of work …. The point that nobody actually has it all is made all the more compelling when it is made by a choir of voices.” – Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times
Coffeetown’s latest release is TORN: True Stories of Kids, Career & the Conflict of Modern Motherhood (288 pp, $18.95/paper, ISBN: 978-1-60381-097-5), edited by Samantha Parent Walravens. The 49 stories in this anthology are fascinating, true, day-in-the-life vignettes about contemporary motherhood, written by both working and stay-at-home moms. Its contributors are mothers who work because their finances require it and those who work to preserve their sanity, stay-at-home moms who love mothering and those who long for more. Along with these tales from the inner sanctum of motherhood, TORN also includes contributions from outsiders: women whose busy personal and professional lives got in the way until motherhood was no longer an option.
TORN is a treat for any working or stay-at-home mom who needs reassurance that she is not alone–that her frustrations and her joys are shared by women of every age and income group nationwide. The perfect Mothers’ Day gift, TORN is also an ideal present for baby showers and a must-read for any book group.
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Advance Praise for TORN
“TORN offers up the finest imaginable gift for today’s moms, no matter whether you work or stay at home: the comforting truth that we all juggle life and kids as best we can, and that moms ride this nutty ‘mommy wars’ roller coaster together.”
– Leslie Morgan Steiner, author of Mommy Wars and New York Times Bestseller Crazy Love
– Willow Bay, Senior Editor, The Huffington Post, and Special Correspondent, Bloomberg Television
“TORN is a poignant look at how a generation of mothers is trying to forge its own identity while honoring the legacy of 60s and 70s feminism. Sometimes freedom can be its own trap, and this book illustrates that principle beautifully.”
– Neal Pollack, columnist for Vanity Fair and author of Alternadad and Stretch
Real Mothers. Real Careers. Real Conflict.
Striking the right balance between career and motherhood is one of the most stressful, heart-wrenching tasks facing women today. In Torn, 47 women examine the conflict between the need to nurture and the need to work, and reveal creative solutions for having the best of both worlds. The stories in the collection offer hope and inspiration, but they also reveal the messy realities of modern motherhood and life’s inevitable crises, both small and large: from breast pump mishaps to battles with cancer; diaper blowouts to debilitating depression; competitive cupcake baking to coming home from war. In the end, the reader can take comfort in the knowledge that there is no perfect mother; nor is there a perfect balance when it comes to kids and career.
“The Age of Superwoman is Dead.”
“TORN comes at a pivotal time in history,” says editor Samantha Parent Walravens. “Women’s disillusionment with the career-family juggle has been escalating since the mid-1990s. The idea of women pursuing high-powered careers while also baking cookies and reading bedtime stories is increasingly seen to be unrealizable by ordinary mortals. Mothers today are getting real. They are freeing themselves from the unrealistic expectation to be everything to everybody (and look fabulous while doing it!). The Age of Superwoman is dead.”
Success Does Not Equal “Doing it All”
While written from very personal, individual perspectives, TORN touches on themes familiar to a wide audience. It gives voice to the hopes and fears of: anxious young professionals who are contemplating motherhood; parents over-matched by the competing responsibilities of work and family life; stay-at-home mothers; and women trying to “on ramp” back into a career. In the end, the reader can take comfort in the knowledge the real challenge facing women today is not juggling their many roles, but reevaluating their expectations of what is possible and accepting that success does not equal “doing it all.”
Samantha Parent Walravens is an award-winning journalist, writer and mother of four children. She was an editor for PC World magazine before leaving journalism to chase the “Internet dream” in the mid-1990s. She has since returned to her true passion, writing, and has published articles on topics including politics, business, lifestyle and women’s issues. Samantha is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Princeton University and has a Master’s in Literature and Women’s Studies from the University of Virginia. TORN: True Stories of Kids, Career & the Conflict of Modern Motherhood is her first book.