Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What I Thought I Knew - Alice Eve Cohen - Review, Guest Post & Giveaway!

I always feel privileged to read someone's memoir. Sharing their thoughts, feelings and experiences is an intensely intimate read.

Alice Eve Cohen's story is so unbelievable it almost reads like fiction. As a young woman, Cohen was told she was infertile. So, when she married, she and her husband adopted instead. The marriage ended, but at age 44 Cohen is happy in a new relationship, her career has taken off and everything seems to be going her way until...she begins to experience symptoms that no one doctor can seem to diagnose. A CAT scan finally reveals the cause....she is six months pregnant.

I truly was unable to put What I Though I Knew down - I devoured it in one afternoon. Cohen works as a storyteller and performer and her skills as a raconteur shine through in this deeply honest and open memoir. Cohen takes us along with her through a gamut of emotions as she deals with having to make unimaginable choices. I found myself wondering what choices I would have made in the same situation.  A highly recommended read. This would be an excellent choice for book club discussions. Read an excerpt of What I Thought I Knew.

I asked Eve if her daughters had read the book or discussed it with her and here's the reply....

CENSORING MY OWN BOOK

A pro-choice mother’s conundrum

By Alice Eve Cohen

I once attempted to censor my own book…That, of course, was a dumb idea.

I was hell-bent on hiding the book from my daughter, who is central to the story of my memoir. She quickly let me know just how dumb an idea it was.

My memoir begins eleven years ago, with my unexpected and terrifying pregnancy at the age of 44. I was so desperate that I scheduled an appointment for a late term abortion with Dr. George Tiller, in Wichita, Kansas; but at the last minute, I decided to have the baby.

Eliana was nine when my book came out. As my July 2009 publication date approached, I feared that she would be traumatized by the knowledge that I had considered an abortion.

The truth is, I had censored my story for many years. I bottled it up inside me, unable to talk to anyone about it, until I was finally able to write the book. Given that I’ve always been an ardent advocate of women’s reproductive rights, why was I was so wracked with guilt at having considered a late term abortion?

Even after my book was complete, I held on to the half-baked idea that I could publish my memoir, while at the same time selectively censoring myself on the subject of abortion. I told my publisher that in order to protect Eliana, I would not take any media interview questions about abortion, to which the publicist reluctantly agreed.

...Until May 31, 2009, when Dr. George Tiller was murdered in Wichita, Kansas by an anti-abortion terrorist.

I mourned Dr. Tiller’s death and reflected on the vital importance of knowing, in the midst of my terrifying pregnancy, that I had the right to choose whether or not to have the baby. I realized that having that right saved my life and, by extension, Eliana’s life.

I decided that it was irresponsible of me to censor my abortion story. I called my publicist to say I’d changed my mind, and would welcome interview questions about abortion. I wrote an essay for the Huffington Post, titled “Dr. George Tiller Saved My Life…and my Baby’s Life.”
But even after that, I still wanted to hide my book and my abortion story from Eliana. My husband and I tried to persuade Eliana not to read it until she was a teenager, but she let us know that was out of the question.

“This book is about my birth,” Eliana said, “so of course I’m going to read it. And I’m going to read it before the public gets to read it in July!”

“OK,” we said, with trepidation. “But on one condition: We want you to read it when Mommy or Daddy is home, so that you can ask us questions.”

For two days in June, Eliana and I lay down on my bed with two copies of my book, reading side-by-side. I regularly peeked over to see what page she was on. She was laughing in all the right places, but I knew she’d have hard questions.

She finished the chapter where I scheduled a late-term abortion. For years, I’d dreaded her ever finding out about this moment, fearing that she would be devastated.

“Did that upset you?” I asked.

“No.” she said. “Why would I care what you thought about me before I was born? I was only a fetus.”

She got to page where she was finally born, after my horrific 47-hours of labor.

“Wow, Mom this is like a non-fiction book that teaches you a lot about pregnancy!”

She got to Epilogue—which is virtually a love song to my two daughters, Eliana and Julia. When she finished, she turned to me and smiled. “Good book, Mom. I really liked it.”

“Thank you, honey, I’m so glad. Did anything in the book upset you?”

“Nope! Because I knew exactly how everything was going to turn out.”

Eliana wasn’t devastated to learn that I’d considered a late term abortion. Rather, I had injured myself by keeping it a secret for so many years. Note to self: knowledge isn’t traumatizing. Secrets, lies, and censorship are."
 
You can find Alice Eve Cohen on Facebook and Twitter.
 
Thank you so much for sharing both your story and this conversation with Eliana.
 
Want to read What I Thought I Knew? One lucky reader will win a copy! Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Simply comment to be entered. Ends Wednesday Dec 29/10 at 6 pm EST.

69 comments:

Pam said...

I keep running into reviews of this and it jut looks so good!

bermudaonion said...

What a wonderful guest post. I think there's a lesson in there for all of us. No need to enter me - I have the book.

Linda said...

What an interesting post! I don't often read memoirs, but this sounds like a story I would enjoy. Thanks for the giveaway.

debbie said...

That was a really amazing post. I think that keeping secrets usually ends up hurting ourselves the most. I would love to read the book.
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

PoCoKat said...

Would love to win this book!!!

littleone AT shaw DOT ca

novelwhore said...

This memoir sounds absolutely fascinating and definitely more like fiction than a true story. I'd love to read it - please enter me!

Thanks-
Lydia

fredamans said...

This is on my wish list, please enter me. Thanks.

freda.mans[at]sympatico.ca

AmandaSue said...

I keep seeing reviews about this and it just sounds amazing. I'd love a chance to read it.

unforgetable_dreamer_always (at) hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

Thank you for including me in the giveaway. =)
tiredwkids at live dot com

Jenna said...

This sounds wonderful. Id love to win

papajm25{AT}gmail{DOT}com

Anonymous said...

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Heather said...

Would love to read this book! Thanks for the chance to win!
ra6352 (at) gmail (dot) com

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I LOVE this guest blog post!

No need to enter me, as always, Luanne. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

Crystal said...

This sounds very interesting. As a pro-life mom, I really want to read this to hear her side of the story (with no judgment, I'm really fascinated after reading her article). Thanks for sharing.

crystalfulcher(at)ec.rr.com

Anonymous said...

Thank you for including me. =)

tiredwkids at live dot com

brandyreneebruce said...

Very interesting interview! I have to say that I'm not a supporter of late-term abortion whatsoever, but I appreciate the author's honesty and openness.

A said...

anastasia.trombly[at]gmail[dot]com

This book looks really interesting, I would love to read it.

Melissa M said...

No need to enter me. I've read this book and LOVED it! I rarely keep books, but I just couldn't part with this one.

I love this guest post. What a great lesson!

BRN2SHOP9 said...

so many people have mentioned this book. i can't wait to read it!

shanaelyse said...

This book looks amazing! I'd love to be entered.

shanaelyse@gmail.com

Zoƫ said...

Please enter me, this one looks really great!

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linett said...

fantastic post and would love to read this

Mary said...

I've heard only great things about this book. I'd love to read it.

mryward(at)yahoo(dot)com

Bani said...

I love memoirs! This one sounds full of drama.

wakeupangel(at)gmail(dot)com

Nicole C. said...

I would love to read this book.

choateorama(at)gmail(dot)com

Tarah said...

I would LOVE to read this book, we dealt with infertility ourselves so this would be a very interesting read.

Tarah
tarah716[at]ymail.com

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Please enter me.

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

vmkids said...

would ,love to win this

Meredith said...

I've seen lots of good reviews for this book! On the other hand, why try to censor yourself? Most readers favor some writers because of their styles as well as their stories!

meredithfl at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good book. I'd like to read it.

Book Groupie said...

This book sounds fascinating.

Aik said...

I'd love to read this book!

aikychien at yahoo dot com

Becca said...

Sounds like a great read, thanks! sbcashortie at hotmail dot com

nicole s said...

This sounds like an interesting book. Please enter me to win this book!
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Benita said...

Please count me in. Many thanks.



bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

rubynreba said...

Please enter me. I've heard it is a very good book.
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Renee G said...

This sounds like an interesting story.
rsgrandinetti@yahoo(DOT)com

Nancye said...

What an incredible book! I would LOVE to win a copy! Thanks for the chance.

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

janeh said...

Sounds fascinating!!

wgbc1446 said...

I would like to read this. Sounds interesting. wgbc1446[at]yahoo[dot]com

Janice Crespo said...

Definitely sounds like a great read! Thanks for the chance!
janicecrespo@gmail.com

Nancy said...

I often amazed at what is revealed in memoirs....I would have a hard time writing one.

Maureen said...

It looks like an amazing story.
mce1011 AT aol DOT com

Anonymous said...

This book sounds like a must read!









Bshaw75015@aol.com

Anonymous said...

I would like to read this work!

theyyyguy@yahoo.com

loni said...

Please enter me in to win

trippyjanet at hotmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great read!
shawnac68(at)hotmail(dot)com

Rhonda said...

I love the plot line and would like to read this
rhondastruthers atyahoo.ca

ellie said...

I just read all about the book and I have got to read it. I hope to win, but I will be seeking out this book either way.
Thanks for the giveaway!
eswright18 at gmail dot com

*~Dani~* said...

Love to read this one!

tallcapp said...

This reminds me of someone at work who had no idea she was pregnant until she was far along. Would love to red this book.

Anonymous said...

I love a good book

jim.coyne2@verizon.net

naynays1 said...

Would love to read this book! Thanks for the chance
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Marjorie said...

This book is on my wish list and sounds like a great read.

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susansmoaks said...

i would love to win
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susan1215 said...

Sounds like a good book

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kathy pease said...

Thank you for the great giveaway please count me in :)
kathypease(at)gmail(dot)com

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

This book sounds really good!

purango said...

This sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for the giveaway. garrettsambo@aol.com

blueviolet said...

I'd love to read this! I adore memoirs!

Andria said...

I would love a chance to win. Thank you.

Heidi Durham said...

I'm curious, enter me.

dvice12 said...

This would be great

Diane52 said...

wow-I would love to read this, What would you do?
Diane Baum
esldiane@gmail.com

Atreau said...

This sounds like a thought provoking book!

Heather said...

Sounds like something I'd cry reading. I'll sign up anyway. ;-)
heatherpooh (hotmail)

- Marybeth I. said...

Please enter me in this one also! sounds like a good story

misaacmom at gmail dot com

Deborah Wellenstein said...

I'd love to have this book!

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chad said...

This looks really good.