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Ladyparts

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A frank, witty, and dazzlingly written memoir of one woman trying to keep it together while her body falls apart—from the New York Times bestselling author of Shutterbabe I’m crawling around on the bathroom floor, picking up pieces of myself. These pieces are not a metaphor. They are actual pieces. Twenty years after the publication of her iconic Shutterbabe, we remeet Deb A frank, witty, and dazzlingly written memoir of one woman trying to keep it together while her body falls apart—from the New York Times bestselling author of Shutterbabe I’m crawling around on the bathroom floor, picking up pieces of myself. These pieces are not a metaphor. They are actual pieces. Twenty years after the publication of her iconic Shutterbabe, we remeet Deborah Copaken at her darkly comedic nadir: battered, broke, divorcing, dissected, and dying—literally—on sexism’s battlefield as she deliriously scoops up what she believes to be her internal organs, which have fallen out of her body, into a glass Tupperware container before heading off to the hospital for emergency surgery . . . in an UberPool. Part cri de coeur cautionary tale, part dystopian tragicomedy, Ladyparts is Copaken’s irreverent inventory of both the female body and the body politic of womanhood in America. With her journalist’s eye, her novelist’s heart, and her performer’s sense of timing, she provides a frontline account of one woman brought to her knees by the one-two-twelve punch of divorce, solo motherhood, lack of healthcare, unaffordable childcare, shady landlords, her father’s death, college tuitions, sexual harassment, corporate indifference, ageism, sexism, and just plain old bad luck. Plus seven serious illnesses, one on top of the other, which provide the book’s narrative skeleton: vagina, uterus, breast, heart, cervix, brain, and lungs. She keeps bouncing back from each bum body part and finding the black humor in every setback, but in her slippery struggle to survive a steep plunge off the middle-class ladder, she is suddenly awoken to what it means to have no safety net. Turning her Harlem home into a commune to pay rent and have childcare, she trades her life as a bestselling novelist to apply for full-time corporate gigs that come with health insurance but often not scruples. She gets fired from a health magazine for being unhealthy; laid off from a PR firm for rushing home to deal with a child’s medical emergency; and sexually harassed out of her newspaper column, only to be grilled by the FBI when her harasser is offered a plum job in the White House. Side-splittingly funny one minute, a freak horror show the next, and quintessentially American, Ladyparts is an era-defining memoir for our time.


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A frank, witty, and dazzlingly written memoir of one woman trying to keep it together while her body falls apart—from the New York Times bestselling author of Shutterbabe I’m crawling around on the bathroom floor, picking up pieces of myself. These pieces are not a metaphor. They are actual pieces. Twenty years after the publication of her iconic Shutterbabe, we remeet Deb A frank, witty, and dazzlingly written memoir of one woman trying to keep it together while her body falls apart—from the New York Times bestselling author of Shutterbabe I’m crawling around on the bathroom floor, picking up pieces of myself. These pieces are not a metaphor. They are actual pieces. Twenty years after the publication of her iconic Shutterbabe, we remeet Deborah Copaken at her darkly comedic nadir: battered, broke, divorcing, dissected, and dying—literally—on sexism’s battlefield as she deliriously scoops up what she believes to be her internal organs, which have fallen out of her body, into a glass Tupperware container before heading off to the hospital for emergency surgery . . . in an UberPool. Part cri de coeur cautionary tale, part dystopian tragicomedy, Ladyparts is Copaken’s irreverent inventory of both the female body and the body politic of womanhood in America. With her journalist’s eye, her novelist’s heart, and her performer’s sense of timing, she provides a frontline account of one woman brought to her knees by the one-two-twelve punch of divorce, solo motherhood, lack of healthcare, unaffordable childcare, shady landlords, her father’s death, college tuitions, sexual harassment, corporate indifference, ageism, sexism, and just plain old bad luck. Plus seven serious illnesses, one on top of the other, which provide the book’s narrative skeleton: vagina, uterus, breast, heart, cervix, brain, and lungs. She keeps bouncing back from each bum body part and finding the black humor in every setback, but in her slippery struggle to survive a steep plunge off the middle-class ladder, she is suddenly awoken to what it means to have no safety net. Turning her Harlem home into a commune to pay rent and have childcare, she trades her life as a bestselling novelist to apply for full-time corporate gigs that come with health insurance but often not scruples. She gets fired from a health magazine for being unhealthy; laid off from a PR firm for rushing home to deal with a child’s medical emergency; and sexually harassed out of her newspaper column, only to be grilled by the FBI when her harasser is offered a plum job in the White House. Side-splittingly funny one minute, a freak horror show the next, and quintessentially American, Ladyparts is an era-defining memoir for our time.

30 review for Ladyparts

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Audiobook…read by Deborah Copaken, the author… brilliantly I might add. ….16 hours and 38 minutes Whenever Deborah Copaken sees a sunrise or a rainbow she thinks of her dad. “It’s as if his body disappeared that day and in his place appeared either a sunrise 🌅 or rainbow🌈. A packed filled book with everything including the kitchen sink. …..Slut shaming ….surgeries, horrible details of uterus surgery and recovery, hospitals, doctors, money, career, gripping marriage tales, parents, families, pr Audiobook…read by Deborah Copaken, the author… brilliantly I might add. ….16 hours and 38 minutes Whenever Deborah Copaken sees a sunrise or a rainbow she thinks of her dad. “It’s as if his body disappeared that day and in his place appeared either a sunrise 🌅 or rainbow🌈. A packed filled book with everything including the kitchen sink. …..Slut shaming ….surgeries, horrible details of uterus surgery and recovery, hospitals, doctors, money, career, gripping marriage tales, parents, families, pregnancies, single-parenting, divorce, children, womanhood, friendship, loneliness, anger, frustrations, cancer, dating, men, fucking inappropriate men, environmental issues, being an American, America, traveling, scary-as-hell traveling, writing, her novels, photo journalism, screenwriting, blogging, the sociology of suicide, dog walking, Tinder rules, before meToo & the realities of meToo, being fired, chats about love, consolation jobs, babysitting, housing, living environments, rent, gas, food, financial expenses, eating, starving, sick as hell, maddening injustice, sadness, and shocking news…. freedom debt relief destroyed her credit, being a sucker for a crazy pitch, sound healing therapy, try-anything to alleviate pain measures, Jewish, Tibetan buddhist healing, Nepal, the Hollywood fantasy, tons of personal stories, …. the good, the bad, the evil….. I liked it all > in that way where one feels “I want to be friends with this woman”…. …witty, honest, funny, heartbreaking, emotional…. filled with heart!! In one section, I literally wanted to ‘scream’ (for and with Deborah), with my own anger and cry at the same time!!! If you loved Nora Ephron…(possible not to?)…. you just might want to cry your eyes out with the love felt!!! Definitely not a waste of time for me!!!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I won and ARC copy of this book through Goodreads giveaways! I am stunned by this book. Somehow, she covers the female experience by telling her own narrative. Sexual harassment, rape, slut-shaming, healthcare designed for men only, childcare, the wage gap, the jop opportunity differences, treatment in the workplace, divorce, dating, and the organs that terrorize our bodies are all put on display. Every human needs to read this book. If you find the events and situations in this book shocking, y I won and ARC copy of this book through Goodreads giveaways! I am stunned by this book. Somehow, she covers the female experience by telling her own narrative. Sexual harassment, rape, slut-shaming, healthcare designed for men only, childcare, the wage gap, the jop opportunity differences, treatment in the workplace, divorce, dating, and the organs that terrorize our bodies are all put on display. Every human needs to read this book. If you find the events and situations in this book shocking, you need to educate yourself on the multifaceted disparities between men and women. So often I hear the counter argument, "yes women have it bad with this, but men experience this too". To the same percentage? Is the same response given? Who is acknowledged more? I feel sad that the majority of the female readers of this book will, like me, not be surprised at the events within. We will all find parts of her narrative that sound like she's narrating our lives instead. But maybe, like me, this gives you hope that someday there might be a world where this doesn't have to happen. Hopefully, this book gives you even a tiny little boost to try and make your own way in the world, like it has done for me.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ayelet

    Nora Ephron was her mentor and she's friends with an Ayelet. She had me with that! Nora Ephron was her mentor and she's friends with an Ayelet. She had me with that!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Karen Germain

    Thank you to Random House Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of Deborah Copaken’s memoir, Ladyparts, in exchange for an honest review. Writer and photojournalist Deborah Copaken’s Ladyparts, begins over a decade after her first memoir, Shutterbabe, which detailed her early career as a war photographer in Afghanistan. In Ladyparts, Copaken chronicles her separation from her husband, Paul Kogan, and the subsequent stress, health, and financial issues that followed. I can’t remember the la Thank you to Random House Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of Deborah Copaken’s memoir, Ladyparts, in exchange for an honest review. Writer and photojournalist Deborah Copaken’s Ladyparts, begins over a decade after her first memoir, Shutterbabe, which detailed her early career as a war photographer in Afghanistan. In Ladyparts, Copaken chronicles her separation from her husband, Paul Kogan, and the subsequent stress, health, and financial issues that followed. I can’t remember the last time that I read a memoir that made me feel every single emotion. All of the feels. Mostly, I felt anxiety and rage towards Copaken’s struggles. To be clear, Copaken is not seeking pity, but Ladyparts serves to shed a light on the inequalities in our society, especially those that women face. When she sought divorce from her husband, she was left with the bills and childcare, while he restarted his life in California. This situation, along with job loss and health problems, such as a cancer diagnosis, caused extreme instability in Copaken’s life. She saw her savings dwindle to the point where she had to put off having critical surgeries or even reconsider taking not just an ambulance, but a cab, to the hospital during a health emergency. Copaken offers many statistics that show not only a severely flawed US health system, but specifically where the health system fails women. It made my blood boil. She gives startling examples of how women’s health is simply not given research funds, and how many gynecologist are not trained to help post menopausal women. It’s terrifying and makes me livid. I have a family history of gynecological cancers in my family, and now I am the same age as both my mom and aunt when they had endometrial cancer. I’m constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. I felt very triggered and anxious when reading these sections of Ladyparts, especially as I’ve also been in Copaken’s position of not having health insurance. It’s terrifying and I don’t take it for granted now that I have it. Copaken is so brave and honest. She gives a raw account of her medical situation, including a very graphic retelling of massive blood clots that expelled from her body after a complication from surgery. A complication that she was never briefed could happen, therefore making it even more serious and scary. At one point, she is explaining this at a dinner party and a friend cautions her to keep the details private, as it is not proper. Copaken refuses to be silent or tone down her story. I want to commend and thank her for sharing the details. It is important for women to be heard, especially in situations like these, where her story could help save lives. My anxiety peaked when Copaken detailed her various problems at different companies. It was a reminder that freelancing (which I’m currently doing) is uncertain, and that the changes in technology and work culture have devalued the contributions of writers. Also, the idea that being middle-aged can be viewed as a liability or another reason to be devalued, made me feel ill. I worked for the same company for nearly fifteen years and it took me a long time to realize that there is little loyalty and no such thing as job security. I was raised by a mom who essentially worked for the same company her entire career and preached the gospel of finding a place and staying loyal, but that is simply not the way the world works now and Copaken’s experiences highlight this new way of doing things. The #Metoo movement looms large in the last chapters of Ladyparts, as Copaken’s private life goes viral when she outs Ken Kurson, a major editor and friend of Donald Trump, for harassment, stalking, and derailing her career. The details are shocking, but ultimately this story breaking is a huge win. Speaking of wins, one of the most poignant and beautiful moments comes towards the end, when Copaken encourages her son to “break the rules” and join her on their apartment rooftop to view Fourth of July fireworks bursting over the New York skyline. It’s an intimate moment between a mother and her son. Copaken reflects on time and makes an affecting comment on how our bodies are borrowed, and how we don’t know how much time we have in them, so we should live to the fullest. This resonated with me. Ladyparts might be one of the most important, perspective changing writing that I have ever encountered. It certainly wasn’t an easy read, as I had to brace myself for the emotions every time I picked it up, but I absolutely recommend it to everyone. Copaken writes without mercy and is a force. Also, Copaken’s friendship and advice from Nora Ephron is fantastic. Like my review? Check out my blog!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie Goldberg

    Necessary and Critcal This is an urgent necessary and critical book for every woman (and man) in my friend and family group. As a long time Copaken fan, I expected nothing less. But Copaken hits it out of the park with this book, mining her own dark secrets struggles and shame to force us to reckon with the multi layered complexity of why women have it so hard and receive such poor medical care while at the same time pushing us to be smarter and safer. And am I more grateful than ever to be a Can Necessary and Critcal This is an urgent necessary and critical book for every woman (and man) in my friend and family group. As a long time Copaken fan, I expected nothing less. But Copaken hits it out of the park with this book, mining her own dark secrets struggles and shame to force us to reckon with the multi layered complexity of why women have it so hard and receive such poor medical care while at the same time pushing us to be smarter and safer. And am I more grateful than ever to be a Canadian with a health care safety net.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gretchen Rubin

    An astonishingly candid and thought-provoking memoir.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Linda Perlstein

    This book was ... a lot! Here are the things it was about: -Life with catastrophic ailments -Friendship with Nora Ephron -#MeToo -The hard road to WGA credits -Marriage on the spectrum -Working with Darren Star -App dating -Eastern wellness -Ken Kurson and the FBI -The inadequacies of freelance health insurance Any, say, five of these topics would have been enough. I liked the components individually and appreciated (I think?) that Copaken names names, but it's a bit all over the place and long. This book was ... a lot! Here are the things it was about: -Life with catastrophic ailments -Friendship with Nora Ephron -#MeToo -The hard road to WGA credits -Marriage on the spectrum -Working with Darren Star -App dating -Eastern wellness -Ken Kurson and the FBI -The inadequacies of freelance health insurance Any, say, five of these topics would have been enough. I liked the components individually and appreciated (I think?) that Copaken names names, but it's a bit all over the place and long.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    I only made it 116 pages before having to set this one down. I actually feel quite badly about not enjoying it; the author has clearly had a tough go of things and does tell compelling stories, but there came a point where I just couldn’t take the nonstop drumbeat of how Hard everything is. Without resorting to victim blaming, I can only hope that more women these days leave relationships that aren’t working (to say the least), advocate for themselves with their doctors, and learn the pillars of I only made it 116 pages before having to set this one down. I actually feel quite badly about not enjoying it; the author has clearly had a tough go of things and does tell compelling stories, but there came a point where I just couldn’t take the nonstop drumbeat of how Hard everything is. Without resorting to victim blaming, I can only hope that more women these days leave relationships that aren’t working (to say the least), advocate for themselves with their doctors, and learn the pillars of personal finance early in their careers. Those seem to be the big lessons to glean from her story. The book is also just… long. The structure intentionally jumps around the timeline, but the narrative within each section also jumps around to other years and stories, so it can also feel disjointed at moments. I wish an editor had been a little more assertive about working with her to pare things down, as I just don’t think things like the multi-page excursion to wax about the state of public and private schools on the upper west side of Manhattan versus in Harlem added any real value to the overall reader experience. Valuable topic, but not in the context of this type of memoir. Don’t get me wrong — with a life like this I can understand wanting to share it all. But it’s a lot. Contemplating another 300 pages of this ultimately is just too daunting a task for me.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    I have always loved Deb’s writing- for her honesty, humanity, and humor, but this book spoke to me on so many levels as a woman in her early 50s, a parent, a wife, a professional. It is the narrative version of a manifesto- a call for women to stand up for one another and fight the patriarchy- for the sake of the health of our bodies, and our minds!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Zibby Owens

    In this memoir, the author shares how her personal and medical history was more challenging because she did not have insurance, despite being a bestselling author with an illustrious career in New York Times bestselling author. Using her own body as a metaphor for how women are treated in the American healthcare system, the author talks about her medical struggles, the industry's insurmountable hurdles, and the physical toll they take on women today. The author used her scars and traumas—from get In this memoir, the author shares how her personal and medical history was more challenging because she did not have insurance, despite being a bestselling author with an illustrious career in New York Times bestselling author. Using her own body as a metaphor for how women are treated in the American healthcare system, the author talks about her medical struggles, the industry's insurmountable hurdles, and the physical toll they take on women today. The author used her scars and traumas—from getting Covid, losing her job, losing her father, getting a hysterectomy, a trachelectomy, and a vaginal cuff dehiscence—to tell a much bigger story of what it's like in America for the shrinking middle class and how our healthcare system compares to healthcare systems in other countries. She also intersperses statistics and facts to explain the gaps. To listen to my interview with the author, go to my podcast at: https://zibbyowens.com/transcript/deb...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I've never been into memoirs or autobiographical books before, but Deborah Copaken pulled me into this one from the very first page. This story is so relatable on so many levels, I found myself both laughing and crying along with her as I journeyed through her last decade or so of life. Fantastic book! Thank you, Deborah, for your brutal honesty and for letting this reader know she wasn't alone struggling through divorce and a healthcare system that makes absolutely no sense in a first world cou I've never been into memoirs or autobiographical books before, but Deborah Copaken pulled me into this one from the very first page. This story is so relatable on so many levels, I found myself both laughing and crying along with her as I journeyed through her last decade or so of life. Fantastic book! Thank you, Deborah, for your brutal honesty and for letting this reader know she wasn't alone struggling through divorce and a healthcare system that makes absolutely no sense in a first world country.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Drewganis

    If Homer's "The Odyssey", Land's "Maid" and Lyon's "Disrupted" had a baby, this would be it. Exploring the big themes of our modern era (healthcare, affordable housing, discrimination, the gig economy, the caretaker's economy), Deborah Copaken turns her journalistic eye for detail inward as she leads us through a hero's journey of the battles a middle-aged woman wages with her mind, heart and body. Her first person account of longing, loss and love is equal parts outrageous and relatable. It's h If Homer's "The Odyssey", Land's "Maid" and Lyon's "Disrupted" had a baby, this would be it. Exploring the big themes of our modern era (healthcare, affordable housing, discrimination, the gig economy, the caretaker's economy), Deborah Copaken turns her journalistic eye for detail inward as she leads us through a hero's journey of the battles a middle-aged woman wages with her mind, heart and body. Her first person account of longing, loss and love is equal parts outrageous and relatable. It's hard to look away and impossible to put down because we need to know that this gritty, capable, loving woman is going to be ok in the end. Will she? Will we?

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Being a woman in this world really sucks. Also I don’t think I’ll ever watch anything by Darren Star ever again after he screwed over one of his oldest friends, just one of many egregious acts by many grotesque males revealed in this book. I loved Shutterbabe, Copaken’s earlier book a LOT, but this may have just surpassed it. This book is so of this time and this place and being a 50-something woman in this backwards world (she’s just two years older than me). Right place, right time.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Loved the Audible version of the book, read by the author. A simultaneously funny and painful memoir, highlighting the many ways in which our society fails women. If you were born with a uterus, read this book. If you weren’t, read it twice.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sophfronia Scott

    A bold and brave reflection on a life lived out loud. Join me for a Mark Twain House and Museum online event in conversation with author Deborah Copaken discussing her powerful memoir, Ladyparts. September 29, 2021, 7pm ET. Registration here. A bold and brave reflection on a life lived out loud. Join me for a Mark Twain House and Museum online event in conversation with author Deborah Copaken discussing her powerful memoir, Ladyparts. September 29, 2021, 7pm ET. Registration here.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mags

    As a sufferer of chronic pelvic pain, I was sucked right in from the title and the subject matter. I loved this autobiographical account of a woman as her body slowly falls apart. Thoroughly engaging take on her experience peppered with appalling facts of the lack of equity in health care. Loved it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    A beautifully written memoir that delves into many important topics and issues. I loved the author's voice and the photographs she included. Though I would've appreciated a warning for the blood clot one. A beautifully written memoir that delves into many important topics and issues. I loved the author's voice and the photographs she included. Though I would've appreciated a warning for the blood clot one.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Heather Munao

    My full review will be in Booklist soon. This has been my favorite Booklist assignment so far! It is meaningful and important while being very personal.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Julia Beck

    EVERYONE STOP -- This must be your next listen. Listen because you need to hear Deb Copaken tell her truth. You must bear witness through her personal narrative to the macro as it defines the micro, the granular facts and experiences of her existence. Consider this part political, part personal, part timely/topical, part universal, part tragedy, part levity, part punchline, part punch people in the face (I think she says neck!!!), part compelling, part repulsing, part I will listen to this until EVERYONE STOP -- This must be your next listen. Listen because you need to hear Deb Copaken tell her truth. You must bear witness through her personal narrative to the macro as it defines the micro, the granular facts and experiences of her existence. Consider this part political, part personal, part timely/topical, part universal, part tragedy, part levity, part punchline, part punch people in the face (I think she says neck!!!), part compelling, part repulsing, part I will listen to this until I am bleary eyed and part take this away from me I am going to loose it. Well, that was just my experience. All I can promise is that you will never forget this book. You will never think about things the same again. And you will, like me, send an audio book link to your nearest and dearest suggesting, no insisting, they listen to Ms. Copaken ASAP.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    I have to say, I would never ever want to exchange lives with Deborah Copaken. Wow, that woman has been through some tough stuff, to put it mildly. And she has come through it with her humanity and her righteous anger and even some humor intact. Amazing. This is the story of her life as told by her, and it's horrifying in many ways. If you can make it through the first chapter, you are entitled to a purple heart. I made it through but I will never forget it. The other thing I want to say is that s I have to say, I would never ever want to exchange lives with Deborah Copaken. Wow, that woman has been through some tough stuff, to put it mildly. And she has come through it with her humanity and her righteous anger and even some humor intact. Amazing. This is the story of her life as told by her, and it's horrifying in many ways. If you can make it through the first chapter, you are entitled to a purple heart. I made it through but I will never forget it. The other thing I want to say is that she wrote the episode of the Amazon Prime series Modern Love that I liked the best (I watched it again last night after I finished the book), it's S1E2, When Cupid Is a Prying Journalist, with Catherine Keener and Dev Patel. I added this because I feel I can forgive her for Emily in Paris or whatever the name of that ridiculous show is, as long as I can balance it with the Modern Love piece. Read this book! It's well worth the 17 hours of audiobook, too. :)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    More like 4.5 but closer to 5... Funny and wise memoir that I'm so glad to have read. This author called out so many inequities (gender, financial etc) through descriptions of her medical challenges and underemployment, lack of health insurance and single parenting. Lots of great information shared throughout. I'm already sharing some Insights gathered with friends. More like 4.5 but closer to 5... Funny and wise memoir that I'm so glad to have read. This author called out so many inequities (gender, financial etc) through descriptions of her medical challenges and underemployment, lack of health insurance and single parenting. Lots of great information shared throughout. I'm already sharing some Insights gathered with friends.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Angela Schlater

    I found this riveting, terrifying, enraging, and give it five starts because she survived.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kelli

    Copaken's struggle to survive against sexism, high cost of living, poor healthcare policies, and relationship woes make this memoir a nail-biter. I appreciate her transparency regarding her personal issues and her well-researched reasoning about how and why feminism still has a long fight ahead. Copaken's struggle to survive against sexism, high cost of living, poor healthcare policies, and relationship woes make this memoir a nail-biter. I appreciate her transparency regarding her personal issues and her well-researched reasoning about how and why feminism still has a long fight ahead.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    Be warned: Along with all the ladyparts described in this book, you need a very strong stomach to get through it. Gallons of blood both monthly and in one frightening night are described in the first few pages. This is in the service of the author’s point that women are ill-served by the medical community and society in general and are expected to bear pain and tragedy far greater than what men are allotted. Five years ago her statistics might have shocked and surprised her readers, but today, n Be warned: Along with all the ladyparts described in this book, you need a very strong stomach to get through it. Gallons of blood both monthly and in one frightening night are described in the first few pages. This is in the service of the author’s point that women are ill-served by the medical community and society in general and are expected to bear pain and tragedy far greater than what men are allotted. Five years ago her statistics might have shocked and surprised her readers, but today, not so much. I am left with the feeling she had to up the grossness factor to keep her audience engaged. Perhaps I didn’t give her a fair chance, but frankly anyone who tells her doctor for 16 years that her menstrual symptoms are nothing she can’t handle, while she is gushing blood 15 days out of every month, bears some of the blame for the situation she finds herself in. I don’t know if she has a chapter on her posterior, but I stopped reading when the primary emotion II found myself with was giving her a swift kick in hers.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    Deborah Copaken wrote her first searing memoir about her years as a war photographer in Europe and the Middle East. I always wonder what becomes of an author after a spectacular period of their life, and the conclusion of their telling of their story. In her sophomore memoir, we find out. And, man, do we find out! In the years following her meeting the man who would become her husband and the father to her children while she was overseas, she began the process of separating from him. And, in the Deborah Copaken wrote her first searing memoir about her years as a war photographer in Europe and the Middle East. I always wonder what becomes of an author after a spectacular period of their life, and the conclusion of their telling of their story. In her sophomore memoir, we find out. And, man, do we find out! In the years following her meeting the man who would become her husband and the father to her children while she was overseas, she began the process of separating from him. And, in the process of becoming the sole breadwinner for her family (as he moved across the country to begin a new business), she encountered the sexism, poverty, loneliness, and lack that follows women in the US when we no longer depend on a man and have needed to be independent. Most of all, this tome is an advocate for Medicare For ALL persons, including dental, hearing, and vision aids. Ms. Copaken has many physical issues, many physiological but some also as a result of enormous stress. She is unable to obtain adequate medical care, both because of her dire financial situation but also because of being female in a male-dominated profession. Additionally, her search for paying work is futile and she becomes a victim of sexual harassment and abuse several times over. Her finanacial situation, along with her health, suffers enormously. It is a relief when she encounters respite from the enormous stress of legal issues, health issues, work and financial issues. She meets wonderful friends and attentive lovers who help her emotionally and financially. Overall, this is a searing portrait of being an independent, free-lance writer and single mom in the US today. Highly recommended.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    So many thoughts. To begin, Copaken is a glorious writer so this book was a page turner no matter what. Copaken does an excellent job weaving her personal story (which is fascinating) into her thoughts on larger societal issues, specifically feminism and the US healthcare system (with a smattering of late-stage capitalism). This was an interesting mirror for me because when I think of someone who is a fabulous writer, a best-selling author, someone's whose essays go viral frequently, friends wit So many thoughts. To begin, Copaken is a glorious writer so this book was a page turner no matter what. Copaken does an excellent job weaving her personal story (which is fascinating) into her thoughts on larger societal issues, specifically feminism and the US healthcare system (with a smattering of late-stage capitalism). This was an interesting mirror for me because when I think of someone who is a fabulous writer, a best-selling author, someone's whose essays go viral frequently, friends with many famous people, I admit I make the assumption that if their lives are not fabulous, they are at least not one step from debtor's prison. My life is far less glamourous in many ways but gifted with so much more stability over the past 20 years. Copaken makes an excellent point that many - most? - of us are not as far removed from debt, lack of medical coverage etc. as we like to think. Indeed, I agree with her that it forms the basis for many of the critiques she has received: "that would never happen to me because i would never...." That being said, and this is not to blame Copaken, a lot of her troubles occurred because her Ex was a complete horror show. That is, the resilience that some of us have is because our spouse/partner is a net positive in our lives, even when our partnerships aren't perfect 24/7. Her husband, who I think is correctly diagnosed with ASD, is not only the least empathetic of the good Lord's creatures (I wanted to physically hurt him when Copaken described his [email protected] during her recovery from her hysterectomy), he couldn't even be a decent breadwinner to at least compensate. He actually costs her money in his stubborn refusal to divorce, all the while setting up another household across the country and getting her deeper into debt. It shows how perilous it is to be without another person who really has your back. I also love memoir because it reveals both the similarity and differences of the human experience. While Copaken's experiences as a working mom resonated with me, her need and joy in short term sexual relationships could not be more different than me. As with "Shutterbabe," Copaken makes it clear that having sexual relationships was "non-negotiable" and even credits the joy of her first post-marital sexual relationship as potentially helping to cure her breast lump. The fact that Copaken finds so many men sexually appealing and that this kind of relationship worth pursuing despite all the craziness going on in and around her life is something that I never would've considered, given my very different personality. Now, onto her social-economic-political commentary. Where we are aligned: I agree with Copaken that tying our health care system to employment makes no sense in 2021. Where people move jobs or work gigs, employment and health insurance linkage make no sense. (I only half joke that I remain in my current job for the federal health insurance benefits.) But while Copaken extols the virtues of nationalized health care systems, she does not look at the costs or the practicality of how that would work - or not - in the U.S. Clearly the US health care system is broken (and Covid may utterly destroy it) but I think it is simplistic just to say "they do this in other first-world countries." I also agree that schools and a lot of workplaces are set up with schedules that are relics of a time-gone-by (or that never really existed). But I just can't get on board with Copaken's uniform view of the degradations suffered by women in the workplace. Yes, of course I believe her lived experience, but I don't think she can universalize it the way she does.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Vann

    "I'm crawling around on the bathroom floor, picking up pieces of myself. These pieces are not a metaphor. They are actual pieces." This was compelling like a train wreck in the sense of 'I don't want to stare, but can't look away.' I don't read a lot of nonfiction. I mostly read for escapism, so even literary fiction isn't usually on my radar. I absolutely DO judge a book by its cover, however, and this one jumped out at me immediately. Then, with that opening salvo, I was hooked. Let me preface "I'm crawling around on the bathroom floor, picking up pieces of myself. These pieces are not a metaphor. They are actual pieces." This was compelling like a train wreck in the sense of 'I don't want to stare, but can't look away.' I don't read a lot of nonfiction. I mostly read for escapism, so even literary fiction isn't usually on my radar. I absolutely DO judge a book by its cover, however, and this one jumped out at me immediately. Then, with that opening salvo, I was hooked. Let me preface this by saying I was not familiar with Deborah Copaken until I picked this up. I still don't know anything about her beyond what she wrote here. From what I read, I anticipate there's probably some piece of the Internet that finds her problematic for any number of reasons, but I wasn't inspired to go looking for her or what the general consensus is on her as a personality while I was dual listening to her narrate and seeing the photos in the physical copy of this book outlining her battles with the healthcare system, single parenting, and journalism in a digital world. On top of personal insight into those struggles, Copaken also provides copious amounts of research and statistics behind inequalities in healthcare (specifically for women), housing and publishing. This was not an easy read. I had to take my time with it and have plenty of palate cleansers in the interim. Other than the uncomfortable subject matter (and, let me reiterate, sometimes GRAPHIC photos accompanying her journey), my only real criticism is that there are some strange (to me) isntances of name-dropping. Usually I like to learn about celebrities and get peeks into their private lives, but in a narrative whose main focus is one woman's fights with and against all the systems set out against her, the casual and/or tangential mentions of A-listers seemed out of place. I also had to reserve judgment and kind of... suspend disbelief about someone describing her very real and significant financial hardships while also mentioning how she met her husband while they were both in Paris, or how she was very close friends with the mind behind When Harry Met Sally etc. She does point out that she realizes she comes from privilege: "Yes, I come from privilege. Immense privilege vis-à-vis most of the rest of the world and many others in the U.S. But it was not expendable-income safety net privilege. It was not trust fund privilege or here’s-a-few-bucks-to-get-you-started privilege. It was solid middle-class privilege, which used to mean something to my parents’ generation: an ability for a family to stay afloat comfortably enough, on one salary, from a four-decade career spent at the same firm, without tiring themselves out from too much treading." But that was more than halfway into the book and by that time I was already a little off-put by the dissonance. I would say it's still worth a read, but warn that the last chapter deals very directly with COVID and its effects and that part was especially tough to stomach.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    Ladyparts is incredibly honest and raw about what being a woman looks like in the United States today (for a significant slice of the white cis-gendered population). Deborah Copaken does not hold back and lays it all out--driven essentially by "what else do I have to lose" and the writer's need to put their reality on paper (and hopefully garner a living income from it), this memoir will likely feel familiar to many women in particular, if they've ever lived through any of the wallops Copaken ha Ladyparts is incredibly honest and raw about what being a woman looks like in the United States today (for a significant slice of the white cis-gendered population). Deborah Copaken does not hold back and lays it all out--driven essentially by "what else do I have to lose" and the writer's need to put their reality on paper (and hopefully garner a living income from it), this memoir will likely feel familiar to many women in particular, if they've ever lived through any of the wallops Copaken has faced in her life. From numerous medical emergencies and no way to pay for them, to sexual harassment and sexual assault, to being discredited for being a woman on a professional, medical, and person basis, we've All Been There at some point, as depressing as that is. Part rallying cry for other women to fight for their lives and livelihood and part love letter to the body that, despite its issues and failings, continues to allow Copaken to live and write. At the end of the day Copaken is grateful, if enraged by the systemic issues crushing women day in and day out. What stuck with me most is that it doesn't matter how relatively famous you are (Copaken's books have been adapted to the screen), it takes just one stroke of bad luck to really struggle to put food on the table and lights on in the house. I took this memoir as part warning, too, that this could happen to anyone--exposing how poorly this country looks out for its citizens. Hopefully things begin to turn around for Copaken, for women, for minorities, for the poor and sick--but this is a story of how to persevere, despite it all.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    I’ve read a lot of great books this year, but this one, written by our friend, Deb Copaken, who I met when she was our neighbor, is my hands down favorite. No wonder it’s going to be made into a TV show. This highly engaging flashback of recent events (some that we’ve all survived and others representing the @metoo movement and the vast, hidden trials of the uninsured and underemployed in America) made me, in turns: gasp in horror, laugh out loud, shriek in rage, cry with empathy, and then cry w I’ve read a lot of great books this year, but this one, written by our friend, Deb Copaken, who I met when she was our neighbor, is my hands down favorite. No wonder it’s going to be made into a TV show. This highly engaging flashback of recent events (some that we’ve all survived and others representing the @metoo movement and the vast, hidden trials of the uninsured and underemployed in America) made me, in turns: gasp in horror, laugh out loud, shriek in rage, cry with empathy, and then cry with joy (read it and see if you can tell which single chapter yielded all of these?) Who doesn’t want to read or watch a powerful woman recount her survival despite the trials of our broken healthcare system, call out the misogyny of the American workplace, describe prevailing over the trauma of sexual violence, sexual harassment, divorce, and single motherhood…all wrapped up in feminist political analysis and impeccably cited medical research? It’s an amazing book because Deb is an amazing person and an exceptional writer. Buy it for yourself and for every fierce, awesome woman you know.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    I've been a restless reader lately - starting books and then stopping them, but I really loved this book. The author, a bestselling memoirist and novelist, writes this memoir of her 40s. It focuses on numerous medical issues she faces while struggling to maintain employment and health insurance, all coming on the heels of her separation from her husband (whom IMO, she should have left much earlier). The book encompasses what it is to be underemployed and part of the working poor, what dating is I've been a restless reader lately - starting books and then stopping them, but I really loved this book. The author, a bestselling memoirist and novelist, writes this memoir of her 40s. It focuses on numerous medical issues she faces while struggling to maintain employment and health insurance, all coming on the heels of her separation from her husband (whom IMO, she should have left much earlier). The book encompasses what it is to be underemployed and part of the working poor, what dating is like in your 40s, what it is like to have little support when you are going through medical crises after medical crises. It also contains enraging information about how women are ignored by medical professionals and the fact that many doctors FAIL TO LISTEN to women and DO NOT KNOW WHAT HAPPENS after menopause and what estrogen loss does to us. This book got a so so review from the NYT and mentioned that she name drops, but that didn't bother me at all. I liked hearing inside things about Darren Star, Amanda Hesser and Tad Friend.

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