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Flesh & Blood: Reflections on Infertility, Family, and Creating a Bountiful Life: A Memoir

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Honest, warm, and witty, this memoir reads like a chat with a dear friend sharing her insight and taking us along as she heals. Complete with family stories over cocktails and a praying mantis named Claude. “I drive and say to myself, if I am dying, if this is how I die, then this is how I die.” When N. West Moss finds herself bleeding uncontrollably in the middle of a writ Honest, warm, and witty, this memoir reads like a chat with a dear friend sharing her insight and taking us along as she heals. Complete with family stories over cocktails and a praying mantis named Claude. “I drive and say to myself, if I am dying, if this is how I die, then this is how I die.” When N. West Moss finds herself bleeding uncontrollably in the middle of a writing class, she manages to drive herself to the nearest hospital. Doctors are baffled, but eventually a diagnosis—uterine hemangioma—is rendered and a hysterectomy is scheduled. In prose both lyrical and unsparing, Moss takes us along through illness, relapse, and recovery. And as her thoughts turn to her previous struggles with infertility, she reflects on kin and kinship and on what it means to leave a legacy. Moss’s wise, droll voice and limitless curiosity lift this narrative beyond any narrow focus. Among her interests: yellow fever, good cocktails, the history of New Orleans, and, always, the natural world, including the praying mantis in her sunroom whom she names Claude. And we learn about the inspiring women in Moss’s family—her mother, her grandmother, and her great-grandmother—as she sorts out her feelings that this line will end with her. But Moss discovers that there are ways besides having children to make a mark, and that grief is not a stopping place but a companion that travels along with us through everything, even happiness. A remarkably honest memoir about heartache and healing, Flesh & Blood opens up a conversation with the millions of women who live with infertility and loss.


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Honest, warm, and witty, this memoir reads like a chat with a dear friend sharing her insight and taking us along as she heals. Complete with family stories over cocktails and a praying mantis named Claude. “I drive and say to myself, if I am dying, if this is how I die, then this is how I die.” When N. West Moss finds herself bleeding uncontrollably in the middle of a writ Honest, warm, and witty, this memoir reads like a chat with a dear friend sharing her insight and taking us along as she heals. Complete with family stories over cocktails and a praying mantis named Claude. “I drive and say to myself, if I am dying, if this is how I die, then this is how I die.” When N. West Moss finds herself bleeding uncontrollably in the middle of a writing class, she manages to drive herself to the nearest hospital. Doctors are baffled, but eventually a diagnosis—uterine hemangioma—is rendered and a hysterectomy is scheduled. In prose both lyrical and unsparing, Moss takes us along through illness, relapse, and recovery. And as her thoughts turn to her previous struggles with infertility, she reflects on kin and kinship and on what it means to leave a legacy. Moss’s wise, droll voice and limitless curiosity lift this narrative beyond any narrow focus. Among her interests: yellow fever, good cocktails, the history of New Orleans, and, always, the natural world, including the praying mantis in her sunroom whom she names Claude. And we learn about the inspiring women in Moss’s family—her mother, her grandmother, and her great-grandmother—as she sorts out her feelings that this line will end with her. But Moss discovers that there are ways besides having children to make a mark, and that grief is not a stopping place but a companion that travels along with us through everything, even happiness. A remarkably honest memoir about heartache and healing, Flesh & Blood opens up a conversation with the millions of women who live with infertility and loss.

30 review for Flesh & Blood: Reflections on Infertility, Family, and Creating a Bountiful Life: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    My Shelf Awareness review: Moss was accustomed to blood, yet clots soaking through pads and running down her legs came as a shock in her early 50s. "My uterus and I have been at odds for forever," she remarks, but this hemorrhage was so acute she drove herself to the ER. She needed an exploratory D&C, a cruel flashback to the failed pregnancies of her 40s. Soon she faced a total hysterectomy to remove a hemangioma. In Flesh & Blood, she tenderly traces the before and after of surgery and how she My Shelf Awareness review: Moss was accustomed to blood, yet clots soaking through pads and running down her legs came as a shock in her early 50s. "My uterus and I have been at odds for forever," she remarks, but this hemorrhage was so acute she drove herself to the ER. She needed an exploratory D&C, a cruel flashback to the failed pregnancies of her 40s. Soon she faced a total hysterectomy to remove a hemangioma. In Flesh & Blood, she tenderly traces the before and after of surgery and how she came to terms with childlessness. While she doesn't shy away from medical details, Moss delves more into the emotional effects of her condition. "Being ill has made me meet the world with a more patient heart," she notes. It's a chance to slow down, reconnect with her mother, who supervises her convalescence, and appreciate the companions who get her through: her husband and cats, Claude the praying mantis and the memory of her beloved Grandma Hastings. Post-recovery, a month house-sitting in Holland tests her newfound confidence, while resuming her writing reminds her "there's more than one way to be fruitful." The few-page chapters are warm slices of life. Moss leavens her losses with a sense of humor, as in a tongue-in-cheek list of questions for her surgeon ("Do you have a periscope?"). Realistic about illness's challenges and gifts, this memoir is recommended to readers of May Sarton. (Posted with permission from Shelf Awareness. 4.5 stars)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Basic B's Guide

    This was a beautifully moving tale of something we don’t encounter very often in books. The subject of miscarriage is never fully exposed like the devastation that it is. This story exposes it and the woman’s body as it is and with no restraint. I myself have never dealt with a miscarriage but experienced infertility for over a decade and a complete hysterectomy at the age of 42. I’m surrounded by friends and family that have however dealt with miscarriage. Why is such a prevalent experience so This was a beautifully moving tale of something we don’t encounter very often in books. The subject of miscarriage is never fully exposed like the devastation that it is. This story exposes it and the woman’s body as it is and with no restraint. I myself have never dealt with a miscarriage but experienced infertility for over a decade and a complete hysterectomy at the age of 42. I’m surrounded by friends and family that have however dealt with miscarriage. Why is such a prevalent experience so hidden away from the world? This book is highly triggering so please make sure you are prepared going in. The audiobook narration was soothing and intoxicating. I’m glad I took the time to listen to this story.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    This memoir is a work of art. It’s thoughtful, reflective, and meditative in ways that will stay with me for quite some time. Many readers are focusing on Moss’ experience with infertility, but this isn’t a memoir about desperately seeking motherhood. It’s about living a full life of your choosing. It’s about love and mindfulness. It’s about the wisdom of years and experience. And for those of us who’ve struggled with chronic illness, there is so much that resonates. I cannot recommend it enough This memoir is a work of art. It’s thoughtful, reflective, and meditative in ways that will stay with me for quite some time. Many readers are focusing on Moss’ experience with infertility, but this isn’t a memoir about desperately seeking motherhood. It’s about living a full life of your choosing. It’s about love and mindfulness. It’s about the wisdom of years and experience. And for those of us who’ve struggled with chronic illness, there is so much that resonates. I cannot recommend it enough.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mathieu Cailler

    A beautiful, poignant read. By turns tender, fragile, and laugh-out-loud funny, Moss's words feel like a conversation with a close and brilliant friend. A beautiful, poignant read. By turns tender, fragile, and laugh-out-loud funny, Moss's words feel like a conversation with a close and brilliant friend.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Katelyn

    Wow, this memoir blew me away. This is Moss' memoir about trying to have children, struggling with infertility and miscarriages, reckoning with not having children, and dealing with a serious illness that made her bleed heavily and have very little energy. This book deals with tough topics, but it is a comforting book. Moss' writing is compelling and calming. She is forced to slow down and after hysterectomy surgery spent months recovering, mostly living in her sun room with her mother there to Wow, this memoir blew me away. This is Moss' memoir about trying to have children, struggling with infertility and miscarriages, reckoning with not having children, and dealing with a serious illness that made her bleed heavily and have very little energy. This book deals with tough topics, but it is a comforting book. Moss' writing is compelling and calming. She is forced to slow down and after hysterectomy surgery spent months recovering, mostly living in her sun room with her mother there to care for her. I loved the sweet, close relationship between 50 something Moss and her 80 something mother. Moss also tells stories of her grandmother, passing them on to the reader. Highly recommended for memoir fans interested in women's lives.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kristi Lamont

    I took my mother’s advice and slept on this Book Report before writing it. Because of that, I will use a lot fewer words today than I would’ve yesterday to share my thoughts on Flesh & Blood: Refections on Infertility, Family, and Creating a Bountiful Life: A Memoir,by N. West Moss. 1) This book did not resonate with me emotionally (as I had imagined it would, given that I, too, am in my 50s, and given that my husband and I were not able to have children). 2) There should be a limit to one semicolo I took my mother’s advice and slept on this Book Report before writing it. Because of that, I will use a lot fewer words today than I would’ve yesterday to share my thoughts on Flesh & Blood: Refections on Infertility, Family, and Creating a Bountiful Life: A Memoir,by N. West Moss. 1) This book did not resonate with me emotionally (as I had imagined it would, given that I, too, am in my 50s, and given that my husband and I were not able to have children). 2) There should be a limit to one semicolon per title. 3) There was an _awful_ lot of Watch Me Write going on. The End

  7. 4 out of 5

    Leslie - Shobizreads

    I listened to the audio format of this book and found it to be so good. The author shares very honestly about the trauma of miscarriage both emotionally and physically. Women’s bodies experience m so much - especially when miscarriage and infertility are involved. I appreciated the vulnerability and perspective she had to offer but can also see how this subject could be triggering for many especially in the midst of infertility or infant loss. I have experienced a lifetime of pain & bleeding fro I listened to the audio format of this book and found it to be so good. The author shares very honestly about the trauma of miscarriage both emotionally and physically. Women’s bodies experience m so much - especially when miscarriage and infertility are involved. I appreciated the vulnerability and perspective she had to offer but can also see how this subject could be triggering for many especially in the midst of infertility or infant loss. I have experienced a lifetime of pain & bleeding from endometriosis as well as infertility and miscarriage (although it’s been a decade so I have had some space to process) so I appreciated and felt seen by this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rhonda Lomazow

    N.West Moss has written a beautiful memoir revealing open honest.She shares with us her desire for children her infertility her miscarriages.The author writes holding nothing back her grief her healing.This is also a book of life of her marriage the women who inspired her her mother her grandmother & great grandmother.She has an avid curiosity her mind always working curious about so much.She also has a terrific sense of humor.This is a book I will be recommending a life story that stayed with m N.West Moss has written a beautiful memoir revealing open honest.She shares with us her desire for children her infertility her miscarriages.The author writes holding nothing back her grief her healing.This is also a book of life of her marriage the women who inspired her her mother her grandmother & great grandmother.She has an avid curiosity her mind always working curious about so much.She also has a terrific sense of humor.This is a book I will be recommending a life story that stayed with me long after I finished the memoir.Will be reading more by this author,

  9. 4 out of 5

    Isabelle

    Flesh & Blood // by N. West Moss My brain is a little jumbled today and I've been struggling to get my thoughts organized into a review. I spent the weekend away but put some time aside to read this book and I am glad I did. I'm a big fan of bringing taboo topics, such as miscarriage, periods, mental health, and more into the spotlight. I've read a couple of memoirs about them before but I do have to say that none of them were quite like this one. It is not as technical as I am used to -- somethi Flesh & Blood // by N. West Moss My brain is a little jumbled today and I've been struggling to get my thoughts organized into a review. I spent the weekend away but put some time aside to read this book and I am glad I did. I'm a big fan of bringing taboo topics, such as miscarriage, periods, mental health, and more into the spotlight. I've read a couple of memoirs about them before but I do have to say that none of them were quite like this one. It is not as technical as I am used to -- something I personally do enjoy -- but I do feel that this makes this book a lot more accessible to those readers that aren't looking for a memoir that goes into a lot of technical detail. Moss writes about her struggle with growing her family as well as her mental and physical health and how those things affect her relationships. She also puts a lot of thought into the topic of legacy, something many of us equal with children to pass our memories, hopes and dreams onto. This work has an interesting format as well that reminds of essays with its short chapters that make this feel like a quick read while also providing the reader with a lot of optional breaks to reflect as this book can become very emotional. Sprinkled with a little bit of humor, a lot of family memories, and plenty of grace, this book has earned itself a permanent spot on my memoir shelf. Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the free copy in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lawrence Lazare

    With a central theme of infertility, some reviewers have categorized this book as a work for a female audience, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a beautiful memoir, that, to categorize it as being about infertility, is to sell it short. It's a meditation on life, loss, family, praying mantises, middle age, growing up in the woods north of New York City, the healing powers of celery soup, marriage, and yes, infertility. Despite the seriousness of the central subject, it’s fill With a central theme of infertility, some reviewers have categorized this book as a work for a female audience, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a beautiful memoir, that, to categorize it as being about infertility, is to sell it short. It's a meditation on life, loss, family, praying mantises, middle age, growing up in the woods north of New York City, the healing powers of celery soup, marriage, and yes, infertility. Despite the seriousness of the central subject, it’s filled with life, love, and joy. Moss’ tale bears the hallmark of the best of memoirs, her voice is sure and strong and filled with humor, but her writing style is never heavyhanded or maudlin, even when discussing the most challenging of subjects. Moss’ struggle with infertility in her 40’s and 50’s is the centerpiece of this tale, but it’s also an exploration of her bonds with her mother and grandmother, and ultimately it’s a love letter to her two elders that sets this book apart. The book oozes with stories of Grandma Hastings’s youth in New Orleans, Moss’ bucolic childhood in the woods of Northern Westchester county, and the loving steadfastness of Moss’ mother Anne. The simple joys of life and family surround a tale of miscarriage and hysterectomy. The book addresses the challenges of illness, loss, and recovery, and as a man who is dealing with my own loss based on illness, I was able to get a better perspective on my own healing journey having been led through Moss’ own experience with illness and recovery.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    I was absolutely BLOWN AWAY by this book. Such a difficult topic, in parts, but the only way I can think to describe her touch was ....gentle. so many small details stuck with me and continue to do so, over 2 weeks later. Her on the bathroom floor, petting her cat in between pain. The praying mantic Claude. Her husband, lifting up the corner of the blanket when she returns to bed, every time. These are like the stuff that life is about and I love those details. I just loved her writing style. Th I was absolutely BLOWN AWAY by this book. Such a difficult topic, in parts, but the only way I can think to describe her touch was ....gentle. so many small details stuck with me and continue to do so, over 2 weeks later. Her on the bathroom floor, petting her cat in between pain. The praying mantic Claude. Her husband, lifting up the corner of the blanket when she returns to bed, every time. These are like the stuff that life is about and I love those details. I just loved her writing style. This book was un-put-downable and I'm so glad I stumbled upon it. My 69 yr old mother has it right now because as soon as I finished, the first thing I did was call her, and say "Ma, you HAVE to read this book." 💗💗💗💗 One of the most powerful parts to me was at the end...when she talks about her late family members, their interesting, sad, happy, meaningful lives, and since she doesn't have kids to keep the stories alive after she's no longer here, she's giving them to us. Wow!!! Chills. I felt HONORED by this. I will carry those stories. Thank you for this amazing book. * * * * * And to the one, only ONE random bad review of this book on here, how in the hell you could not connect emotionally with her story says more about YOU than anything else.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Booksandcoffeepleasemx

    “𝘐 𝘥𝘳𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘢𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘺𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧, 𝘪𝘧 𝘐 𝘢𝘮 𝘥𝘺𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘪𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘪𝘴 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘐 𝘥𝘪𝘦, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘪𝘴 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘐 𝘥𝘪𝘦.” 𝘗𝘰𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘶𝘭, 𝘮𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘤𝘢𝘱𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨! This memoir touched me deeply and will stay with me for a long time. I wish there were more stories that talked about this, I went through something very similar, I was blessed with a son, but ended up having an hysterectomy. After my surgery I found that there are a lot of women that can relate and I was not alone. Reading her story is a true testament of strenght, survival “𝘐 𝘥𝘳𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘢𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘺𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧, 𝘪𝘧 𝘐 𝘢𝘮 𝘥𝘺𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘪𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘪𝘴 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘐 𝘥𝘪𝘦, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘪𝘴 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘐 𝘥𝘪𝘦.” 𝘗𝘰𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘶𝘭, 𝘮𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘤𝘢𝘱𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨! This memoir touched me deeply and will stay with me for a long time. I wish there were more stories that talked about this, I went through something very similar, I was blessed with a son, but ended up having an hysterectomy. After my surgery I found that there are a lot of women that can relate and I was not alone. Reading her story is a true testament of strenght, survival and love. I highly recommend it. Thank you Libro.fm and Workman Audio for this ALC. Flesh & Blood by N West Moss released October 12, 2021. 𝘙𝘦𝘢𝘥 𝘪𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦: 𝘔𝘦𝘮𝘰𝘪𝘳𝘴, 𝘗𝘰𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘶𝘭 𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘴, 𝘕𝘰𝘯 𝘧𝘪𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯, 𝘉𝘦𝘢𝘶𝘵𝘪𝘧𝘶𝘭 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘤𝘢𝘱𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘴. https://www.instagram.com/booksandcof...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne Claypoole

    This beautifully written book captures the experience of chronic illness in a very honest and vulnerable way while also finding a way to focus on the beauty and supportiveness of our closest ties and the simple joys of nature. It is a good portrayal of how the experience of time itself changes when you are ill and you can only focus on what is happening to/in your body every single second until you are well again.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tasha (Amaysn Reads)

    A memoir that reflected back to me so many thoughts after my hysterectomy in July. I’ll have a full review soon. Just know that this is totally worth the read

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Moss is a masterful story-teller. You immediately feel like you've know her your entire life. She's pragmatic about a topic that is taboo but shouldn't be and it is refreshing. I didn't want this book to end. Moss is a masterful story-teller. You immediately feel like you've know her your entire life. She's pragmatic about a topic that is taboo but shouldn't be and it is refreshing. I didn't want this book to end.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    This book was so beautiful and bittersweet and sad but hopeful.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    A memoir about a woman with infertility and miscarriages and all that comes with it. The processing of the reality that she will never bear children and dealing with a serious illness that made her bleed heavily to the point she thought she was going to die. —— When I received this ARC I was very nervous. I struggle with infertility and it tends to be a rigger for me when reading books especially ones with happy endings. —— I loved this book. It was honest and refreshing. I felt comforted and cozy A memoir about a woman with infertility and miscarriages and all that comes with it. The processing of the reality that she will never bear children and dealing with a serious illness that made her bleed heavily to the point she thought she was going to die. —— When I received this ARC I was very nervous. I struggle with infertility and it tends to be a rigger for me when reading books especially ones with happy endings. —— I loved this book. It was honest and refreshing. I felt comforted and cozy while reading it. I felt like I was having tea with a girlfriend who understood the path I am on, the hurts I face and the perspective I have gained. —— I received a physical ARC copy of this read from Algonquin Books. Thank you! All opinions are my own.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Devon Reigh

    This story begins with N. West Moss bleeding. This isn’t something new as a concept for her, but this time is different: she’s bleeding so much that as she drives herself to the hospital her brain is cycling through the possibilities about what could be happening and how things may unfold if she loses too much blood. Thankfully, those are questions that don’t need to be answered at the time, but it leads to the need for a surgery. Moss documents the time leading up to and after the surgery in a This story begins with N. West Moss bleeding. This isn’t something new as a concept for her, but this time is different: she’s bleeding so much that as she drives herself to the hospital her brain is cycling through the possibilities about what could be happening and how things may unfold if she loses too much blood. Thankfully, those are questions that don’t need to be answered at the time, but it leads to the need for a surgery. Moss documents the time leading up to and after the surgery in a truly beautiful book that made me feel like Moss was a close friend. This is an absolutely beautifully written story. Moss writes in such an eloquent way that shows how she found beauty and happiness in a time that is also full of grieving. Perhaps one of my favorite aspects of this book is how Moss drew strength from the women in her life in the present and the past, and focusing on all the big and small acts of love in her life. (The monks down the street were perhaps the one example that made me the most emotional.) This book shows that, as Moss says herself “it turns out you can be filled to overflowing with grief and still be happy.” If you’re a fan of memoirs, you should definitely add this one to your TBR.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Beautiful and surprisingly funny at times memoir interweaving experiences of hysterectomy, emotions surrounding infertility, family bonds, and the writing life. I especially loved her recollections of her grandma and strongly identified with those sections. Given the heavy subject matter, I appreciated the short chapters. Knocking off a star for odd definitions at the start of many chapters from online dictionaries and even Wikipedia - it felt out of place for a literary memoir. #FleshBlood #NetG Beautiful and surprisingly funny at times memoir interweaving experiences of hysterectomy, emotions surrounding infertility, family bonds, and the writing life. I especially loved her recollections of her grandma and strongly identified with those sections. Given the heavy subject matter, I appreciated the short chapters. Knocking off a star for odd definitions at the start of many chapters from online dictionaries and even Wikipedia - it felt out of place for a literary memoir. #FleshBlood #NetGalley

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    West takes us through a tumlutuous time of her life. She has gone through several miscarriages. She has been bleeding for months and finally sees a doctor with a long road to find answers and recovery. Hard, insightful and raw about infertility and health but beautiful writing.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ann Evans

    Hey! Would you like to talk about heavy menstrual flow, hysterectomies, and infertility for a while? Whoa! Don’t run away. N. West Moss’s story is mounted on the quilted scaffolding of loving family, wise and bold social commentary. The tale is told in short, fast-paced chapters which flow from one subject to another. There is no trudging around in the muck. One chapter is about grandma’s calendar, the next is about a felled pine tree, the following about the family history in New Orleans. Moss’ Hey! Would you like to talk about heavy menstrual flow, hysterectomies, and infertility for a while? Whoa! Don’t run away. N. West Moss’s story is mounted on the quilted scaffolding of loving family, wise and bold social commentary. The tale is told in short, fast-paced chapters which flow from one subject to another. There is no trudging around in the muck. One chapter is about grandma’s calendar, the next is about a felled pine tree, the following about the family history in New Orleans. Moss’s dire condition lends heft and interest to all the descriptions, definitions, and experiences of her tale. At some points, she seems close to dying, but then the story turned to gin and tonics or ducks or poetry. Moss’s world is peopled by fine, generous people, from nurturers long gone but fondly remembered, to her parents and the monks next door. She doesn’t like fuss, so asks her many concerned friends to send her an outline of their hands, and their responses cover her wall, each tailored to give her special solace. How many times have you sent an outline of your hand to a friend in need? How many times has a person asked for such a thing? Moss lives a creative, original life, and none of her setbacks drown her spirit. They won’t drown yours either. Every now and again, Moss drops a finely-honed nugget of wisdom: “There is something about me not needing anything that makes people especially generous. It’s the needy people we shy away from…the people who are always reaching toward us who make us lean away,” or “Devout little atheist that I am, I cannot help being moved when [the monk] says, ‘We are praying for you.’ He has memorized the date of my surgery. He will pray. Love is love, and I’ll drink it from a stream or from an old paper cup, I don’t care which.” Lovely wordsmithing. Prepare to love the many colors of life: the paean to a praying mantis, the missing straw hat on a limb, the rare medical condition, the nimbly wise husband, and the abiding presence of Grandma Hastings and her mother before her, and the little baby girl that only lived a week. You will join Moss in mourning this little girl who died before the turn of the century. The 20th century. Under “complaints,” I would list Moss’s authorial decision to switch to the present tense as a method of bringing the reader into the moment. This reader was jarred by the switch. A couple of times the timeline was unclear, but this book exists in Moss’s head and there isa magic to it that transcends time lines. The quibbles are barely worth the time spent to write about them. Moss’s finesse turns this blood-soaked tale into comedy, or comedia. Life is happy and sad at the same time, or, more accurately, hilarious and heart-breaking. A decent book review makes comparisons of the book under consideration with other books, but none came to mind. She is not Malcolm Gladwell or David Sedaris, neither Anais Ninn nor Joan Didion. She is humbly herself, and that is more than enough. If you want a taste of her style, I recommend Chapter Forty-Five: Going Home. Oh, and it reads kind of like a thriller, too. Now there’s a phenomenon—a page-turner about menstrual blood, a hysterectomy and infertility.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kay

    Just finished reading an Advance Readers Copy (ARC) provided through BookBrowse. This was an amazing little book. The title, Flesh & Blood, carries dual meaning - not only the literal flesh and blood of the author’s illness but also the “flesh and blood” of her family connections, and the discussions on family legacy. Beautifully written. Serious yet witty and humorous at times. Highly recommended for all women, not just those who live with infertility and loss. There are lessons to be learned b Just finished reading an Advance Readers Copy (ARC) provided through BookBrowse. This was an amazing little book. The title, Flesh & Blood, carries dual meaning - not only the literal flesh and blood of the author’s illness but also the “flesh and blood” of her family connections, and the discussions on family legacy. Beautifully written. Serious yet witty and humorous at times. Highly recommended for all women, not just those who live with infertility and loss. There are lessons to be learned by all. The format was perfect for taking in small bits a little at a time and for going back and re-reading sections. The writing flowed and read like a novel (and not just a memoir) while being more like a collection of short stories. It was remarkable. I felt more connected to this book than I expected to and completely encased in the story of the journey through the illness and recovery of the author. Well worth reading and sharing.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    "My husband sees me. I see myself. I may not feel well, but I don't feel invisible, and even with an unwell body, I swear that I have never felt more trembling on the edge of the sky, never felt more essentially seen and alive. I refuse what some women warn me of--that no longer being sexually alluring makes me dust or something. I am too busy beaming and being dazzled while the world shimmers around me like a giant ball of tangled yarn." - Thank you to @librofm for the Advanced Listener Copy of F "My husband sees me. I see myself. I may not feel well, but I don't feel invisible, and even with an unwell body, I swear that I have never felt more trembling on the edge of the sky, never felt more essentially seen and alive. I refuse what some women warn me of--that no longer being sexually alluring makes me dust or something. I am too busy beaming and being dazzled while the world shimmers around me like a giant ball of tangled yarn." - Thank you to @librofm for the Advanced Listener Copy of Flesh & Blood by N. West Moss. I had to purchase the physical book after listening to this beautiful memoir. Moss is diagnosed with uterine hemangioma while also dealing with infertility and multiple miscarriages. While healing from a hysterectomy, her mom stays with her and becomes her caretaker. Moss shares the beautiful connection she has with her mom and thinks back on her relationship with her grandmother. She sees the world through new, curious eyes as she experiences a deep healing and rebirth. There is such a sweet tenderness in the relationship with her spouse that is such relationship goals. I can only hope to age with any of the beauty, grace and wisdom that she elucidates in this short gem of a book. This would make a wonderful gift for any of the important women in your life. (CW: graphic description of miscarriage)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sally Delp

    This a truly comforting little book. Despite what could be an ominous sounding title, the thoughts and feeling revealed by the author were eye-opening. I wanted to read this because I struggled with infertility and never found the reason for my problem. At 72 years old, I still consider infertility to be the heartbreak of my life. I was hoping for a road map of sorts on how to come to terms with it. And the author definitely delivered. But it is not just for infertility, it could be helpful for This a truly comforting little book. Despite what could be an ominous sounding title, the thoughts and feeling revealed by the author were eye-opening. I wanted to read this because I struggled with infertility and never found the reason for my problem. At 72 years old, I still consider infertility to be the heartbreak of my life. I was hoping for a road map of sorts on how to come to terms with it. And the author definitely delivered. But it is not just for infertility, it could be helpful for someone struggling with any lifelong problem. She reveals her story in the most straightforward of ways. Somewhat shocking but always entirely believable. But then everything is softened by her amazing attitude and resilience. It is a quick read and definitely worth the time.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Linville

    Flesh and Blood by N. West Moss As a mother of three with a rather textbook experience with childbirth and women’s health, it was humbling to read of Moss’s adverse experiences and their emotional toll.  Her descriptions of each part of the journey were open, vivid and introspective. Moss not only details her physical health issues, she analyzes her emotional response to those problems as well.  She writes frequently of her maternal grandmother, whom she only knew for a short time as a child.  She Flesh and Blood by N. West Moss As a mother of three with a rather textbook experience with childbirth and women’s health, it was humbling to read of Moss’s adverse experiences and their emotional toll.  Her descriptions of each part of the journey were open, vivid and introspective. Moss not only details her physical health issues, she analyzes her emotional response to those problems as well.  She writes frequently of her maternal grandmother, whom she only knew for a short time as a child.  She has very fond memories of that relationship and ponders Grandma Hasting’s life’s struggles as she faces those of her own.  Moss asks herself why this seems so important.  “Legacy is such an amorphous concept. Why should I care if her stories die with me?...It is such narcissism to think our stories matter in the grand scheme of things but it feels like a biological imperative.”  Pondering life's meaning while undergoing a struggle to stay alive is an age old question.  The author makes a good attempt to answer it. Moss’s memoir is recommended for those who may be experiencing similar circumstances and need validation for their actions and emotions.  It is an education for everyone else.  

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I thoroughly enjoyed “Flesh & Blood” by N. West Moss and consider it an outstanding memoir! The book held my interest, and the short concise chapters kept the narrative moving. The author is a beautiful and poetic writer. She honestly shares her emotions and feelings about infertility and the daunting health challenges that she bravely endured. I loved the stories about her mother and grandmother, both remarkable women! Although much of the content is serious, the author has a sense of humor, an I thoroughly enjoyed “Flesh & Blood” by N. West Moss and consider it an outstanding memoir! The book held my interest, and the short concise chapters kept the narrative moving. The author is a beautiful and poetic writer. She honestly shares her emotions and feelings about infertility and the daunting health challenges that she bravely endured. I loved the stories about her mother and grandmother, both remarkable women! Although much of the content is serious, the author has a sense of humor, and some sections are quite funny! I would recommend this book to anyone interested in women’s issues and to anyone who loves a good memoir. Thank you to BookBrowse for this advanced copy.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mara

    Flesh & Blood by N. West Moss is a poetically-written memoir about the author’s struggles with her own body. Written in vignettes, the book centers on her hysterectomy, the life-threatening medical issues that lead up to it and the circuitous healing process afterwards. The short chapters made the book move quickly. I really liked the author’s delicate writing and spirituality. Though the author is an atheist, she is a keen observer of the world and has a philosopher’s soul. This book reminded m Flesh & Blood by N. West Moss is a poetically-written memoir about the author’s struggles with her own body. Written in vignettes, the book centers on her hysterectomy, the life-threatening medical issues that lead up to it and the circuitous healing process afterwards. The short chapters made the book move quickly. I really liked the author’s delicate writing and spirituality. Though the author is an atheist, she is a keen observer of the world and has a philosopher’s soul. This book reminded me a bit of the memoir, Wintering: The Power of Rest & Retreat In Difficult Times by Katherine May. Moss imparts the importance of taking things at our own pace and appreciating the natural world and embracing patience. Moss’s 80-year old mother comes to help her convalesce following surgery and I adored reading about their relationship and how we as humans tenderly take care of each other. Throughout Flesh & Blood, we learn about the author’s life, from her ancestors and connection to New Orleans to her struggles with infertility and miscarriage. We also meet the author’s adorable husband, Craig; and Claude, a praying mantis who lives in her porch and exudes a stabilizing presence throughout the memoir. I really adored this beautiful book! Thank you Algonquin Books and NetGalley for providing this ARC.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Payne

    Flesh and Blood Reflections on Infertility, Family, and Creating a Bountiful Life: A Memoir By: N. West Moss Algonquin Books Biographies and Memoirs Publish Date 12 October 2021 #FleshBlood#NetGalley 50 Book ReviewsProfessional Reader I would first like to thank both NetGalley and Algonquin books for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book. Good Reads Synopsis: Kirkus starred review calls it: “A moving, well-rendered portrait of the seriously ailing artist” Book Review: I gave this book 4 sta Flesh and Blood Reflections on Infertility, Family, and Creating a Bountiful Life: A Memoir By: N. West Moss Algonquin Books Biographies and Memoirs Publish Date 12 October 2021 #FleshBlood#NetGalley 50 Book ReviewsProfessional Reader I would first like to thank both NetGalley and Algonquin books for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book. Good Reads Synopsis: Kirkus starred review calls it: “A moving, well-rendered portrait of the seriously ailing artist” Book Review: I gave this book 4 stars. I read it fairly quickly and was unable to put it down. You feel everything she is going through. I love the stories of her Grandma. The reason she told these stories you don’t learn about until close to end of the book. I felt for her and can relate to some of things she spoke about. I think this book is much needed. What she talks about is kept pretty hushed because people just don’t want to know. This is important and women don’t need to feel that they are alone in this. I love the family relationship. I highly recommend reading this book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Trish Ryan

    This is a candid, bracing & utterly forthcoming memoir of the author’s experience with infertility, miscarriage, and the hysterectomy required to stop what became nonstop bleeding. Told in small vignettes, the author does an admirable job of balancing the devastating frustration of her body’s struggles with the wonderful way certain relationships - particularly her husband and her mother, who comes to stay with them and care for her - sustain her. These moments of relational connection are the b This is a candid, bracing & utterly forthcoming memoir of the author’s experience with infertility, miscarriage, and the hysterectomy required to stop what became nonstop bleeding. Told in small vignettes, the author does an admirable job of balancing the devastating frustration of her body’s struggles with the wonderful way certain relationships - particularly her husband and her mother, who comes to stay with them and care for her - sustain her. These moments of relational connection are the best parts of the book and what kept me turning pages. She also has a clear sense of anticipation for what readers will want - in one chapter, she describes the healing soup her mother makes her so vividly that I thought, “Wow I wish I knew how to make that…”. I turned the page and there was a small chapter with the recipe. I really appreciate the heart that fills this book. Thank you to Algonquin and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    The word infertility is in the title, but please don’t let that stop you from picking this up if you have not dealt with that. There is so much more to this memoir. This story deeply resonated with me. Sometimes books that have stark honesty lack beautiful writing, but not this one. I would frequently stop and reflect about my own health struggle, family members and emotional growth while reading. We learn about her grandmother and how the author sees her in a different light as she goes through The word infertility is in the title, but please don’t let that stop you from picking this up if you have not dealt with that. There is so much more to this memoir. This story deeply resonated with me. Sometimes books that have stark honesty lack beautiful writing, but not this one. I would frequently stop and reflect about my own health struggle, family members and emotional growth while reading. We learn about her grandmother and how the author sees her in a different light as she goes through changes in her own life. There are light, humorous moments, such as living with a praying mantis, that are mixed in, which I found to be symbolic of her own journey. A big part of the story is her going through a hysterectomy and the symptoms that led to it. I think any woman can relate in some way to what she describes in unflinching detail. I received an ARC of this book from the author.

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