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Body Full of Stars: Female Rage and My Passage into Motherhood

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"This book is an ancient call from our first mothers to connect to our bodies―for our own good and for the good of humanity . . . It is healing, illuminated." ―Laura Munson, New York Times bestselling author of This Is Not The Story You Think It Is... What if labor does not end with pregnancy but continues into a mother's postpartum life? How can the fiercest love for your "This book is an ancient call from our first mothers to connect to our bodies―for our own good and for the good of humanity . . . It is healing, illuminated." ―Laura Munson, New York Times bestselling author of This Is Not The Story You Think It Is... What if labor does not end with pregnancy but continues into a mother's postpartum life? How can the fiercest love for your child and the deepest wells of grief coexist in the same moment? How has society neglected honest conversation around the significant physical changes new mothers experience? Could real healing occur if generations of women were fluent in the language of their bodies? Molly Caro May grapples with these questions as she undergoes several unexpected health issues after the birth of her first child Eula: pelvic floor dysfunction, incontinence, hormonal imbalance. As she and her husband navigate new parenthood, May also moves between shock, sadness, and anger over her body’s betrayal. She finally identifies the roots of her anguish as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder and what she calls female rage. The process leads May to a long-desired conversation with her body in an attempt to balance the physical changes she experiences with the emotional landscape opening up before her. Body Full of Stars is one woman's story―dark and tender, honest and corporeal― that reveals deeper truths about how disconnected many modern women are from their bodies. It is her "postpartum awakening." It is also a joyful and tenderhearted celebration of the greatest story of all time: mothers and daughters, partners and co-parents, and the feminine power surging beneath it all.


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"This book is an ancient call from our first mothers to connect to our bodies―for our own good and for the good of humanity . . . It is healing, illuminated." ―Laura Munson, New York Times bestselling author of This Is Not The Story You Think It Is... What if labor does not end with pregnancy but continues into a mother's postpartum life? How can the fiercest love for your "This book is an ancient call from our first mothers to connect to our bodies―for our own good and for the good of humanity . . . It is healing, illuminated." ―Laura Munson, New York Times bestselling author of This Is Not The Story You Think It Is... What if labor does not end with pregnancy but continues into a mother's postpartum life? How can the fiercest love for your child and the deepest wells of grief coexist in the same moment? How has society neglected honest conversation around the significant physical changes new mothers experience? Could real healing occur if generations of women were fluent in the language of their bodies? Molly Caro May grapples with these questions as she undergoes several unexpected health issues after the birth of her first child Eula: pelvic floor dysfunction, incontinence, hormonal imbalance. As she and her husband navigate new parenthood, May also moves between shock, sadness, and anger over her body’s betrayal. She finally identifies the roots of her anguish as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder and what she calls female rage. The process leads May to a long-desired conversation with her body in an attempt to balance the physical changes she experiences with the emotional landscape opening up before her. Body Full of Stars is one woman's story―dark and tender, honest and corporeal― that reveals deeper truths about how disconnected many modern women are from their bodies. It is her "postpartum awakening." It is also a joyful and tenderhearted celebration of the greatest story of all time: mothers and daughters, partners and co-parents, and the feminine power surging beneath it all.

30 review for Body Full of Stars: Female Rage and My Passage into Motherhood

  1. 5 out of 5

    Janelle Janson

    BODY FULL OF STARS by Molly Caro May - Thank you so much to Counterpoint Press for providing my free copy - all opinions are my own. I found this book an extremely personal, necessary, and important work that all women should read. I am not a mother but I was still able to identify and empathize with much of what was written. I have very close friends who are moms that have struggled in similar ways. Although I am not a mom, and even though I can’t possibly understand everything, the contents of BODY FULL OF STARS by Molly Caro May - Thank you so much to Counterpoint Press for providing my free copy - all opinions are my own. I found this book an extremely personal, necessary, and important work that all women should read. I am not a mother but I was still able to identify and empathize with much of what was written. I have very close friends who are moms that have struggled in similar ways. Although I am not a mom, and even though I can’t possibly understand everything, the contents of this book gave me a better understanding of how pregnancy and motherhood affects women. I was completely captivated and fascinated throughout the entire read and I found myself highlighting passages and taking notes throughout. May’s writing is honest, descriptive, thought provoking, and beautiful. A BODY FULL OF STARS covers a wide range of topics from motherhood, to postpartum, to body image, to sexual assault. It’s gorgeously done and is very relevant in the current climate. Highly recommended! For all my reviews, please visit https://shereadswithcats.com

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ramona Mead

    This is a tough review for me. Based on my reading experience, I would say 4 stars. I bumped it up to 5 because this is an extraordinary work of memoir. The author's honesty and vulnerability is incredible, and when I think about the fact that that her husband and family support her 100% and didn't try to sensor a word in this book, it blows my mind. This is an important book, and it's striking up crucial conversations for women. As a woman who has chosen not to become a mother, there were parts This is a tough review for me. Based on my reading experience, I would say 4 stars. I bumped it up to 5 because this is an extraordinary work of memoir. The author's honesty and vulnerability is incredible, and when I think about the fact that that her husband and family support her 100% and didn't try to sensor a word in this book, it blows my mind. This is an important book, and it's striking up crucial conversations for women. As a woman who has chosen not to become a mother, there were parts that didn't resonate with me, but not as many as I expected. It certainly opened my eyes to what mothers experience in their bodies, and the fact that women I love have gone through this unaware to me, breaks my heart. It also made me realize there is a deep disconnect between women who chose to become mothers and those who don't I am hoping to bring my awareness into my relationships. Molly addresses so much more than motherhood when it comes to the female body. Her story of becoming a mother is interwoven with her coming of age, until they become one. It's beautifully done, her writing is raw and vivid. The topics of body shame, sexual awareness, assault, and female rage are timely, Universal, and need to be discussed with Molly's sense of openness. This book is in the right place at the right time. Every woman should read it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Devon Steven

    3.5 stars. Lots of lovely writing and phenomenal ideas about motherhood, female rage, and our bodies, but it meandered on for longer than served its purpose, resulting in an overall feeling of navel gazing instead of philosophizing.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mel

    "She is, after all, the greatest story of all time." *I received an ARC of this book in a giveaway in exchange for an honest review* Sometimes a giveaway book stands out as one to be particularly excited about, despite the odds of actually winning. This was one of those books. Although I have never been pregnant and have no plans to be in the near future, the element of body fluency caught my attention. Plus, the cover is gorgeous. After getting about 50 pages in, I went back and got a pencil and "She is, after all, the greatest story of all time." *I received an ARC of this book in a giveaway in exchange for an honest review* Sometimes a giveaway book stands out as one to be particularly excited about, despite the odds of actually winning. This was one of those books. Although I have never been pregnant and have no plans to be in the near future, the element of body fluency caught my attention. Plus, the cover is gorgeous. After getting about 50 pages in, I went back and got a pencil and started re-reading and marking the parts that stood out to me or made an impact: discussions of food, body healing, and the inextricable link between how we treat the earth and how we treat women. The postpartum challenge, as May calls it, is a reality that is pressing and unsurprisingly hidden. This is a story that needed to be told. Body Full of Stars is about more than postpartum challenge(s), though. It takes us to womanhood at its core. "I don't know what gender is anymore but I do know what the presence of trusted women does to me." "Dreams of women lovemaking, me lovemaking with other faceless women, only women. Lesbian sex dreams the entire pregnancy. Woman, love yourself, love your mother, love your daughter growing with you, but start with love of self and all women." I very much appreciate how, although this is not a queer book, May sprinkles throughout an acknowledgment of the connection between sapphic connections/women loving women in this. I give this book three stars. After getting 150 pages in, it lost steam because the incessant need to be noticed and honored became somewhat gratuitous and self-indulgent. Yet, I recognize the necessity for this. After all, a key part of the story calls attention to the need for women and female rage to finally be heard, to gain attention, to be the center of conversation. My mixed feelings on this continued until the end of the story. The biggest "star losing" problems I had with this book are the following: Her insular, self-important, elitist, wordly, sagacious naturopath, rooted yet rootless, essential oils understanding of female empowerment were incensing and patience testing. She faces serious medical complications but holds such a disdain for medicine that spreads a dangerous message to new mothers. My neonatal nurse twin sister would be enraged to hear how life-saving treatment is so distorted and misunderstood by this white upper class woke segment of people. At times, her writing was lyrical and beautiful, but at other times it was loaded of self-important fluff. As an example, the author's website reads (shortened) "Let us inhabit the regenerative power of the storyteller within. Build capacity to be both with and release the story. Create open space in your chest cavity. Make contact with your sensory body to see how and where it relates to your story. It is play; it is counter-cultural; it is craft-based; it is crawling in the mud. You are biologically wired for story. It is part of your ancestry and your legacy. We are on this sacred and rugged path together." Her previous book chronicles her transition from a world traveler (which she describes as "nomadic" *eye roll*) to 100 acres of Montana land with her husband where they build and live in a Mongolian yurt. As a Brazilian, it is clear I am not reading a work authored by one of my Latina counterparts, whose relationship with nature don't generally fall on this kind of sanctimonious free-spirit nonsense. It reads heavily like a female rage and mental/emotional/spiritual connection with one's body version of Eat, Pray, Love, which can get quickly tiresome. Overall I am glad to have read this book but would not do so again.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Eirene

    This is a very important book and I wish I had read it two years ago, when I was in the middle of the post-partum haze. I could relate to this book SO MUCH. I think it’s an injustice to women that the modern birth and pregnancy books don’t really talk about post-partum issues much. Sure, they might give you a checklist of PPD signs but they don’t talk about much of the issues that can happen… “Because we are a culture focused on the singular act of birthing, no one tells you what comes before or This is a very important book and I wish I had read it two years ago, when I was in the middle of the post-partum haze. I could relate to this book SO MUCH. I think it’s an injustice to women that the modern birth and pregnancy books don’t really talk about post-partum issues much. Sure, they might give you a checklist of PPD signs but they don’t talk about much of the issues that can happen… “Because we are a culture focused on the singular act of birthing, no one tells you what comes before or after birth. Not really. How can they? It’s different for every woman. There may not be one narrative. However, there is no truth. Before and after are not times where all you do is glow. [Loc 400]” …Like post-partum incontinence (thankful I never had this issue but the author goes into great deal of what sounded like a living hell for her peeing ALL THE TIME no matter what she did), prolapse (again, I didn’t really have this issue but I did have pelvic floor issues that I had to do PT exercises for), among other things. None of the books I read went into detail about these issues, and the pregnancy/labor class I took didn’t cover it, either. They BARELY covered breastfeeding and the issues that can cause. “I can’t bounce (the baby). Bouncing makes my vagina “fall out”–and pee, lots of pee, oceans of urine. If I put her down, she screams a baby dinosaur scream I can’t handle yet. There is no way for me to be with her and have my hands free. [Loc 308]” So I think this memoir is a must-read for new moms. The author talks about not being a “radiant” pregnant woman, how she felt at war with her body during the entire pregnancy because she was sick all the time. She had a fairly traumatic birth experience, as well, and that caused a lot of issues for her AND her husband. “Little do I know this moment is the middle of the beginning of a 2 year quest for my health, a crawl across the parched desert where I will question everything I once knew about my body, about it means to heal, about the woman-mother I so wanted to become. I’m about to lose my whole sense of self. [Loc 437]” She talks about how the arrival of their daughter changed her marriage, sometimes for the worse, but they got through it. She talked about how far away she felt from her husband and he told her that it was “hard to move toward a person who snarls.” I highlighted A LOT of quotes from this book. I won’t share them all here. I think it’s more significant to read the book and experience the author’s journey to fully understand it. I could relate to a lot of stuff. There were definitely subjects that didn’t speak to my birth/post-partum experience, but it was an eye-opening read anyways.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    I wanted to love this book. I really did. My own experience of early motherhood resonated with the idea of a rage that can come out of becoming a mother, and I am on board with Caro May's thesis that there is something to be said for connecting with our feminine bodies, something to be said about the importance of listening to the shifts - anger, grief, transformation - that can come after childbirth. She's so vulnerable in her writing, documenting ugly moments for herself and her family in the I wanted to love this book. I really did. My own experience of early motherhood resonated with the idea of a rage that can come out of becoming a mother, and I am on board with Caro May's thesis that there is something to be said for connecting with our feminine bodies, something to be said about the importance of listening to the shifts - anger, grief, transformation - that can come after childbirth. She's so vulnerable in her writing, documenting ugly moments for herself and her family in the year(s) after childbirth left her incontinent. And for that I respect her, for laying it all so terribly out there for the world to see. But no matter how I tried, I just couldn't connect with her. The writing is rambling and self-absorbed, it whirlpools around the same phrases and themes. I tired of hearing of her desire to be "honored" by her husband after the first two times. Tired of reading about her lying down and "pounding the earth" in her anger, hearing about all of her body work sessions and meditations on her pelvic bowl and "Mayan abdominal massages." Like many, after the middle of the book, I just wanted it to be over, and sped through the second half as quickly as possible. If I was a person who could stop books in the middle, I would have abandoned this one. I am also highly skeptical of any writer, especially one who is non-native and White, who writes incessantly of the wisdom of an ambiguous "tribal past" and writes phrases like "I make ceremony." It feels like a romanticized vision that does no actual work and gives no actual credit to the supposed histories its referencing. And this book had space for that. A few chapters that delved deeper into actual, researched exploration of traditions of the feminine would have rounded this out and made it more palatable. She references only three authors in her acknowledgements as books she found insight and inspiration in; I looked them all up and all three of the books are written by White women. That is not to say that those three books contain nothing of use, I haven't read them, but for a book so incredibly focused on female connection to the earth, on menstrual ritual, and on the so-called ancient wisdom of the feminine - I'm sorry, she needed to do more work and rely on a more diverse set of reference books.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kristin Boldon

    An excellent, lyrically written, often wrenching memoir about one woman's postpartum struggles with rage and physical healing, while also celebrating the love she has for her daughter, and the connection she builds with her mother and the memory of her grandmother. It sometimes wandered too far for my taste into the mystical, and I occasionally struggled to follow the story, but I was always willing to keep going with this author. It's so important to have stories like this out there, bringing t An excellent, lyrically written, often wrenching memoir about one woman's postpartum struggles with rage and physical healing, while also celebrating the love she has for her daughter, and the connection she builds with her mother and the memory of her grandmother. It sometimes wandered too far for my taste into the mystical, and I occasionally struggled to follow the story, but I was always willing to keep going with this author. It's so important to have stories like this out there, bringing them out into the light, and making postpartum challenges something we talk about, and not just in whispers. "They say it gets worse before it gets better. This is a cultural black hole. We do not take care of our women, especially our mothers. If a woman with a mood shift after birth actually admits to it, she finds herself under the catchall label postpartum depression. It is not always accurate. Some women weep. Some women rage. Some women go blank. Some women cannot shake anxiety. We are nuanced creatures. We don't fit one category. Depression doesn't always look like what we think depression looks like. Couldn't the name be, instead, postpartum challenge?"

  8. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I was initially hesitant about reading this memoir as it reminded me of a very overwhelming and manipulative old friend of mine, who also happened to be a Cancer as is the author, Molly. A noteworthy sentence I took from the novel is Molly's mother telling her "We've all heard enough of your troubles... I just hope you learn how to take care of yourself. I haven't seen you do that yet." This sentence summed up my feelings perfectly towards my old friend and towards my thoughts of the author init I was initially hesitant about reading this memoir as it reminded me of a very overwhelming and manipulative old friend of mine, who also happened to be a Cancer as is the author, Molly. A noteworthy sentence I took from the novel is Molly's mother telling her "We've all heard enough of your troubles... I just hope you learn how to take care of yourself. I haven't seen you do that yet." This sentence summed up my feelings perfectly towards my old friend and towards my thoughts of the author initially. The difference is that I was actually able to watch Molly take care of herself and change and blossom into a woman that was could be proud and unapologetic yet knew when she was being toxic and hurtful towards those around her, instead of letting the addictive rage consume her. I found this memoir to be incredibly honest and a must-read for all women. Although the memoir focused on motherhood and I myself am not a mother, I was still able to relate to many sections of the memoir as a female that has been hurt, incredibly angry, let down, and viewed as irrational or overly-sensitive by those (particularly men) who did not quite understand what we as females endure on a daily basis. I felt more connected to my body and to other women around me after reading this. I also adored the way Molly spoke to her daughter. I wish I was taught and talked to the same way as Molly's daughter is being taught/talked to now. When given a compliment, we are taught as women to either down-play or outright deny the compliment, or immediately compliment the other person back. We aren't taught to simply say "Thank you! I know, I love my hair too." That would suddenly seem egotistical of us to love ourselves and know it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alex Templeton

    I have probably mentioned in other reviews how my favorite new subgenre of memoir are motherhood memoirs, especially early motherhood memoirs. I became a mother four years ago, so I enjoy commiserating with authors about their experiences of this nutty time. I looked forward to reading this one, as it promised to explore the emotion of rage, and that is something that I've struggled with. There have been many times where it all just seems! So! UNFAIR! And I don't CARE if I'm rational or not! I t I have probably mentioned in other reviews how my favorite new subgenre of memoir are motherhood memoirs, especially early motherhood memoirs. I became a mother four years ago, so I enjoy commiserating with authors about their experiences of this nutty time. I looked forward to reading this one, as it promised to explore the emotion of rage, and that is something that I've struggled with. There have been many times where it all just seems! So! UNFAIR! And I don't CARE if I'm rational or not! I took heart in the way May laid bare her own moments of rational/irrational feeling about the changes that took place when she was tasked with the charge of a tiny helpless human. I thought she also did a great job explaining the betrayal that postpartum women can feel from their own bodies - and how it causes a great deal of rage her husband cannot understand. The only part of the memoir I couldn't completely relate to was, for lack of a better term, May's "hippie" relationship to her body and nature (I apologize if that sounds judgmental; it's supposed to be descriptive). I think people who are really in tune to their bodies and the natural world would relate to the author in some ways more than I did, as I am sadly not in tune with these things! All in all, a worthy addition to my new favorite subgenre!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Finally a real book about the postpartum experience.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    This book. "Wow" feels like an understatement, but my emotions are so raw after finishing it, every single memory of my immediate postpartum years coming back to me so alive and tangible right now, that I can't locate the right words to describe how beautiful and meaningful and real this book is. So I'll focus on things I've done this week while reading it: 1) reached out to the author through social media to thank her for writing it (that is not a thing I usually do, even though I love so many This book. "Wow" feels like an understatement, but my emotions are so raw after finishing it, every single memory of my immediate postpartum years coming back to me so alive and tangible right now, that I can't locate the right words to describe how beautiful and meaningful and real this book is. So I'll focus on things I've done this week while reading it: 1) reached out to the author through social media to thank her for writing it (that is not a thing I usually do, even though I love so many books and authors out there); 2) dog-eared so many pages with passages I'd like to revisit (another thing I do not usually do, my m.o. is usually to copy passages into a separate journal to reread them later, but there are TOO MANY for that in this book); 3) read passages out loud to my partner, even when it involved sobbing while reading them and having to catch my breath and start over, EVEN when it involved recognizing that some of what I was reading would pain him as well and bring him back to some of our darkest postpartum moments; and 4) handed the book TO my partner immediately upon finishing it and asked him to read it in its entirety. I would like to recommend this book to my physical therapist as well, the amazing woman who helped me put my postpartum body back together when I was too sleep-deprived and sore to think I'd ever be capable of such a thing, and to anyone who deals with any postpartum women at all: partners, doulas, midwives, doctors, mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and close friends of new mothers. I might even recommend this book to anyone experiencing any kind of major life transition, since, as the author herself states in these pages, "We are always in labor. Labor isn't toil. Labor is growth. Labor is where you meet your essential self. We are always birthing ourselves." It can be an emotionally exhausting read, though, so make the space for it if you pick it up.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Katie Metzler

    This book was so repetitious and the midpoint I just wanted it to be over. There were some beautifully written passages and thought-provoking themes but overall the author seemed very self-absorbed. For as introspective as she claimed to be, she could NOT see outside herself. The refusal to take care of herself while constantly talking about needing to heal herself was frustrating, as was the rejection of evidence-based medicine.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne Terry

    TLDR: Did not like it. I stalled on it for a month once I'd gotten about halfway through and then hate-read the second half. Technically, I'm counting this as my "Book With a Cover You Don't Like" category for the #BookRiotReadHarderChallenge2018 because I let this one sit on my shelf for months, avoiding it, knowing that heading back into postpartum territory could be triggering for me. Well, happy to report that Molly Caro May's memoir didn't bring me back into that traumatic place but it did TLDR: Did not like it. I stalled on it for a month once I'd gotten about halfway through and then hate-read the second half. Technically, I'm counting this as my "Book With a Cover You Don't Like" category for the #BookRiotReadHarderChallenge2018 because I let this one sit on my shelf for months, avoiding it, knowing that heading back into postpartum territory could be triggering for me. Well, happy to report that Molly Caro May's memoir didn't bring me back into that traumatic place but it did have me screaming at the pages over her utter incompetence and stubbornness when it comes to her own health. This woman has serious, legitimate medical problems and this book is 250-ish pages of her justifying why she doesn't need medical intervention and instead opts to dig her heels into the useless dogma of "natural" living. It's full of woo and pseudoscience and it made me, a person with an autoimmune disease who requires real medicine and real doctors (NOT naturopaths and acupuncturists) just so angry. Telling a story about a postpartum mood disorder and pelvic prolapse and incontinence yet refusing to properly treat these conditions is DANGEROUS. There are consequences to suggesting -- however directly or indirectly -- that new mothers can eschew pharmaceuticals and medical intervention. For a woman who uses a lot of her words (which, admittedly, are beautifully written) in Body Full of Stars to spell out her particular brand of feminism, I found her disdain for Western medicine and unwillingness to treat her own womanly maternal body decidedly un-feminist.

  14. 4 out of 5

    tisasday

    A very strange and intriguing block of lyrical non-fiction.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Allen

    This is a very important book. There is so little in literature about the post-partum experiences of women. This is a hold-nothing-back account of a woman desiring to be embodied in a body that some would consider "damaged" by childbirth. As a future OB-Gyn this journey was very eye-opening for future experiences with patients. This book also made me further realize the dearth of support for pregnant and post-partum women in the American system. There is no space for women who don't "bounce back This is a very important book. There is so little in literature about the post-partum experiences of women. This is a hold-nothing-back account of a woman desiring to be embodied in a body that some would consider "damaged" by childbirth. As a future OB-Gyn this journey was very eye-opening for future experiences with patients. This book also made me further realize the dearth of support for pregnant and post-partum women in the American system. There is no space for women who don't "bounce back" by their six-week post-partum appointment, and this fails countless women. I was also really struck by May's incredibly detailed portrayal of family/marriage dynamics. I love that her husband and parents did not censor the book and were supportive. I also really loved that her husband and mother continued to come alongside her and learn and grow with her, even when things were dark and difficult. And, of course, absolutely gorgeous writing: simultaneously dark and bright. So much vulnerability. Loved it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    May's exploration of post-birth new motherhood is what all new moms need to read, to gain an understanding that we are all emotionally connected in the struggles that await us after giving birth. While every birth, child, woman, and recovery is different, our path toward a new identity - emotionally, physically, mentally, and physically - unites us. Caro May bravely shares her own struggle as a woman, mother, daughter, and partner. She talks about the things we should all be talking about: the h May's exploration of post-birth new motherhood is what all new moms need to read, to gain an understanding that we are all emotionally connected in the struggles that await us after giving birth. While every birth, child, woman, and recovery is different, our path toward a new identity - emotionally, physically, mentally, and physically - unites us. Caro May bravely shares her own struggle as a woman, mother, daughter, and partner. She talks about the things we should all be talking about: the havoc wreaked on a body during birth, the hormonal imbalance and flux, the fury that is unleashed, and the challenge of navigating friendships and partnerships in a period when we are also trying to figure out how to tend to our newly-altered selves. I appreciate so much May's candor and beautiful language, and her ability to remind this fellow mother that my intensity and ownership of my emotions and my cycle and my earth are valuable, beautiful parts of myself.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    This book explores in head-nodding detail the part of motherhood and pregnancy that goes ignored - that postpartum period where everything you expect can be flipped on its head. I had an easy pregnancy, a painful and overwhelming but not overly traumatic labor, and then a gruesome couple of months where I tried to heal. But no one talks about the mother. No one allows the wholly singular physical and emotional pain to be expressed because look at that baby. I'm in love with the first half of BOD This book explores in head-nodding detail the part of motherhood and pregnancy that goes ignored - that postpartum period where everything you expect can be flipped on its head. I had an easy pregnancy, a painful and overwhelming but not overly traumatic labor, and then a gruesome couple of months where I tried to heal. But no one talks about the mother. No one allows the wholly singular physical and emotional pain to be expressed because look at that baby. I'm in love with the first half of BODY FULL OF STARS. I started to lose a bit of my interest towards the end but I am in awe of Molly Caro May's unapologetic and unflinching exploration of her body's failures after the birth of her daughter. I don't know that I'm capable of the level of honesty she has about her own emotional lashing out against her closest family. This is a brave book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lea

    This book connected me to motherhood in new ways and spoke right to the core of Me. It wasn’t an easy read but I took comfort in the morsels and will for a long time to come I’m sure. Thanks Ramona for letting me read your copy.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    Excellent. Raw, real + unfiltered. I'm grateful for this book--it felt like a beautiful dream to read it, even amidst the nightmarish moments, because it's so lyrical, honest + forgiving. This is a superb piece of memoir.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    A very raw, powerful work of memoir.

  21. 4 out of 5

    gwayle

    Body Full of Stars is a memoir about the author’s difficult postpartum, chronicling her struggles with incontinence, hormone imbalance, and thyroid issues, as well as an accompanying array of emotional breakdowns and strained relationships. I wouldn’t wish her experiences on anyone, but difficulties postpartum are all too common and not talked about enough. However, I’m not going to sugarcoat it: I almost put this book aside many times. I’m not certain why I continued; I think at some point I jus Body Full of Stars is a memoir about the author’s difficult postpartum, chronicling her struggles with incontinence, hormone imbalance, and thyroid issues, as well as an accompanying array of emotional breakdowns and strained relationships. I wouldn’t wish her experiences on anyone, but difficulties postpartum are all too common and not talked about enough. However, I’m not going to sugarcoat it: I almost put this book aside many times. I’m not certain why I continued; I think at some point I just wanted to know what happened, and there’s no spoiler summary on Wikipedia. Plus there are so few books devoted to this topic that I wanted to wade through and see if there was anything that resonated. I can’t say there was much, although I was fascinated to learn that things got better for her after she weaned—something not discussed in this boob-worshipping culture! A friend on Instagram (Jessie @blackgirlreading) posted a thoughtful review explaining several problematic issues with this book; I agree wholeheartedly and couldn't have said it better. I don’t like criticizing memoirs because it feels like you’re judging the person. That said, I like my books to have more perspective and craft. To be candid, the author's rambling divine female rage feels less connective and meaningful than contrived and self-inflating (as well as appropriative at times, as Jessie points out). I read an interview somewhere in which she mentions having written the initial manuscript quickly—this haste shows in the final product. I’m saddened because I’m really hungry to read a well written book about life postpartum, but this isn't it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Esther

    I devoured this, not without once or twice thinking, “check your privilege, already” but I’ve needed to be called out on my own moments of privilege, too. So, there’s grace for that. Much of my own physical collapse has happened before I entered motherhood but the journey continues and so this memoir felt safe and nurturing to those of us mucking through the fog. The beauty of the desire to heal and its ability to continue on the arduous journey is revealed in both the author’s own self as well I devoured this, not without once or twice thinking, “check your privilege, already” but I’ve needed to be called out on my own moments of privilege, too. So, there’s grace for that. Much of my own physical collapse has happened before I entered motherhood but the journey continues and so this memoir felt safe and nurturing to those of us mucking through the fog. The beauty of the desire to heal and its ability to continue on the arduous journey is revealed in both the author’s own self as well as within the partnership with her husband. This is important. We live in a society where healing is expected to be instant and where we walk away too quickly. I’ll be coming back to this one, for sure.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Salisbury

    This filled me with rage but not in the way it was supposed to. There was an excessive amount of apologizing for the husband who presented as an insensitive jerk. For what it's worth to whoever needs to hear it: no, watching your partner have a traumatic birth is not worse than experiencing that birth FFS.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn Guggenheim

    Body Full of Stars captures the gorgeous wonder of new life and love, and shows how these are inescapably entangled with hard work that pushes us to our limits. These days when pregnancy, childbirth and parenting take their place with weddings as a kind of competitive sport among us entitled middle-class Americans, Molly Caro May’s memoir takes readers to the messy, beautiful reality of the essential grind. “Essential” because the humbling moments of body fluids and arguments we want to forget, Body Full of Stars captures the gorgeous wonder of new life and love, and shows how these are inescapably entangled with hard work that pushes us to our limits. These days when pregnancy, childbirth and parenting take their place with weddings as a kind of competitive sport among us entitled middle-class Americans, Molly Caro May’s memoir takes readers to the messy, beautiful reality of the essential grind. “Essential” because the humbling moments of body fluids and arguments we want to forget, highlight the precious moments of spontaneous bonding that we want to last forever. “Grind” because--spoiler alert--talking and playing with children while getting ordered around by them and serving as a model of responsible adulthood can reach excruciating levels of tedium. May’s grind is not boredom, but the more serious challenge of the physical and mental toll new parenthood exacts, particularly when ideas about womanhood complicate the picture. I felt myself luxuriating in sweet scenes of daily life with her baby daughter, even as the book also struck me with an awareness of internalized culture such as this: [A]t church, my mother and I stood in wooden pews and sang ‘One Bread, One Body,’ the song that made us both cry a little....[A]s I knelt in prayer, my thoughts would tumble over themselves until I ended up stranded and alone on a pile of debris wondering why we were praying over a man’s body. Didn’t every person come out, actually, from a woman’s body? Where were the women, what about Eve, the snake, what the hell?” As a mother a few years past the all-consuming days of raising tiny people, I was transported to those gauzy moments of baby joy and also breathed a sigh of relief those years were behind me. The subtitle “Female Rage and My Passage into Motherhood” makes a promise of honesty that some readers might react to, and whether that reaction is negative--especially if that reaction is negative--I encourage those readers to look at what makes them want to look away. For the most difficult and self-focused scenes are the most instructive parts of this memoir because they expose the struggle between service and autonomy for women, and focus awareness on what we demand of ourselves. I myself experienced envy and compassion and solidarity while reading. I envied May’s close relationship with her mother where mine was fraught and geographically distant by design. I envied her for her baby daughter because mine died in November 2006 during my eighth month of pregnancy (her name was Elise, and I relish the rare chance to write her name between these parentheses). I felt compassion for May’s postpartum woes, where her pelvic prolapse and incontinence further complicated the loneliness of motherhood. But solidarity forms the heart of this book, where May embraces her emotions as a way to understand and love more fully. She faces down conflict where I would run away or try to stuff down my rage, only to have it emerge as irritability, lashing out, self-blame. She sees how her baby’s father struggles alongside her and in conflict with her in their newly triangulated family. Connections with the self and loved ones, the world inside and outside get upended and reconfigured. “ ‘I have my own trauma about what happened during that first year after Eula was born. I tried to help you but you wouldn’t let me,’ ” May’s husband says to her. She observes that “Even when I wanted to hurt him, I never wanted to hurt him. He never judged. He retreated to protect himself….I move toward him and we fall into each other’s arms. His relief relieves me; his face is open and wide for the first time since my pregnancy. I think he has been heard. I won’t apologize for my feelings or rage. Just like he doesn’t need to apologize for his. He was mean too. But I am sorry for expecting him to rescue me. I am sorry for having pointed a significant portion of my anger at him. My unprocessed or misdirected anger hurts him and drains my brightness….It’s okay to feel angry. It’s not okay to attack people” (p.252). Body Full of Stars is a book for anyone who wants to understand how they evolve in intimate relationships and their sense of self. It is a love letter to May’s family and support network, a tribute to the mother-child bond, and a celebration of earthly and spiritual humanity in all its complexity.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Hollis

    As a momma who suffered postpartum depression, particularly in the form of rage, I needed this book so much. Some parts were not completely up my alley - the author is a lot more into nature and being connected to the earth than I am - but I appreciated the perspective anyway; it was beautiful. I'd venture to say that any mother who felt differently than they were "supposed" to after giving birth- i.e., not glowing and basking in happiness and love over her new child 24/7 - would find something As a momma who suffered postpartum depression, particularly in the form of rage, I needed this book so much. Some parts were not completely up my alley - the author is a lot more into nature and being connected to the earth than I am - but I appreciated the perspective anyway; it was beautiful. I'd venture to say that any mother who felt differently than they were "supposed" to after giving birth- i.e., not glowing and basking in happiness and love over her new child 24/7 - would find something to connect with here. I love so much that women are starting to be more open about what our bodies go through in pregnancy and post-birth. So many things can go wrong, big and small, short-term and long-term. This is an excellent addition to that discussion. Though I also think it's a worthwhile read for partners and friends of women who have given birth, as well as women who haven't given birth as just another lens into our menses, our bodies, and our spirits.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Erika

    The beautiful, but not glamorous, look into the postpartum period of pregnancy, and a woman's hormones in general. Very insightful read, and left me with a list of questions to research as well as a feeling of solidarity.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joan Ifland

    The dear complexity of mothers This book captures the vagaries of the new mother. Threads of life past and future catch up and spin out with disorienting fierceness just when we are most vulnerable. This book let me know and accept my new motherhood 35 years later.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    This isn't just a pregnancy or motherhood book, it's a book about being female. It's all very personal and for me entirely relatable. Vulnerable, honest, and true. I wish someone gave this to me a long time ago.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mary Nee

    I recommend this book, and I am glad I read it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Paperback Paris

    —The review below was authored by Paperback Paris Editor, Jen Weddle. Read more. Molly Caro May's  Body Full of Stars  is a heartfelt memoir that only comes into the literary world a handful of times and describes female empowerment in a way that makes us proud to be women. It's touching and funny and deep, and I connected with it in a way I haven't connected with a book in a very long time. To start, let's set something straight: I am not a mother. And so when I was presented with an opportunit —The review below was authored by Paperback Paris Editor, Jen Weddle. Read more. Molly Caro May's  Body Full of Stars  is a heartfelt memoir that only comes into the literary world a handful of times and describes female empowerment in a way that makes us proud to be women. It's touching and funny and deep, and I connected with it in a way I haven't connected with a book in a very long time. To start, let's set something straight: I am not a mother. And so when I was presented with an opportunity from Counterpoint to receive this book, I had a myriad of thoughts and feelings about this subject I clearly know nothing about. How am I going to be able to identify with the writer, who has written this book about her passage to motherhood when I have never experienced such a thing myself? May eases any hesitations I had about being unable to identify with her story on a deeper level. Time and time again she exerts such confidence in her strength and her body — and in doing so, she reassured me of something that I also question on a daily basis. There were so many instances, like this one, where it felt May had taken the words right out of my mouth: It is time, again, to become a geographer of my body. Isn't it what I've always wanted? Become both the traveler and the map. Become both the traveler and the map. It is the only way." She writes about her struggles with marriage and being able to provide for her daughter, Eula. While I was reading this memoir, it seemed more like I was listening to an old friend telling me her story. May writes with vulnerable ease that is truly astounding, and the way she speaks of her family, you can sense she has one of the best support systems in the world (or at least, this is what's presented in the book). I want to highlight the fact that this is an important book that every woman should read, one that should be given to girls as they're beginning to understand what their body is capable of — there are questions (and answers) in Body Full of Stars even I have been afraid to ask most of my life. The style in which May's book examines the deep disconnect between women who choose to become mothers and those who don't has sparked a new-found curiosity about my own femininity.

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