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Women's Work: A Reckoning with Work and Home

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From National Book Award finalist Megan K. Stack, a stunning memoir of raising her children abroad with the help of Chinese and Indian women who are also working mothers When Megan Stack was living in Beijing, she left her prestigious job as a foreign correspondent to have her first child and work from home writing a book. She quickly realized that caring for a baby and kee From National Book Award finalist Megan K. Stack, a stunning memoir of raising her children abroad with the help of Chinese and Indian women who are also working mothers When Megan Stack was living in Beijing, she left her prestigious job as a foreign correspondent to have her first child and work from home writing a book. She quickly realized that caring for a baby and keeping up with the housework while her husband went to the office each day was consuming the time she needed to write. This dilemma was resolved in the manner of many upper-class families and large corporations: she availed herself of cheap Chinese labor. The housekeeper Stack hired was a migrant from the countryside, a mother who had left her daughter in a precarious situation to earn desperately needed cash in the capital. As Stack's family grew and her husband's job took them to Delhi, a series of Chinese and Indian women cooked, cleaned, and babysat in her home. Stack grew increasingly aware of the brutal realities of their lives: domestic abuse, alcoholism, unplanned pregnancies. Hiring poor women had given her the ability to work while raising her children, but what ethical compromise had she made? Determined to confront the truth, Stack traveled to her employees' homes, met their parents and children, and turned a journalistic eye on the tradeoffs they'd been forced to make as working mothers seeking upward mobility--and on the cost to the children who were left behind. Women's Work is an unforgettable story of four women as well as an electrifying meditation on the evasions of marriage, motherhood, feminism, and privilege.


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From National Book Award finalist Megan K. Stack, a stunning memoir of raising her children abroad with the help of Chinese and Indian women who are also working mothers When Megan Stack was living in Beijing, she left her prestigious job as a foreign correspondent to have her first child and work from home writing a book. She quickly realized that caring for a baby and kee From National Book Award finalist Megan K. Stack, a stunning memoir of raising her children abroad with the help of Chinese and Indian women who are also working mothers When Megan Stack was living in Beijing, she left her prestigious job as a foreign correspondent to have her first child and work from home writing a book. She quickly realized that caring for a baby and keeping up with the housework while her husband went to the office each day was consuming the time she needed to write. This dilemma was resolved in the manner of many upper-class families and large corporations: she availed herself of cheap Chinese labor. The housekeeper Stack hired was a migrant from the countryside, a mother who had left her daughter in a precarious situation to earn desperately needed cash in the capital. As Stack's family grew and her husband's job took them to Delhi, a series of Chinese and Indian women cooked, cleaned, and babysat in her home. Stack grew increasingly aware of the brutal realities of their lives: domestic abuse, alcoholism, unplanned pregnancies. Hiring poor women had given her the ability to work while raising her children, but what ethical compromise had she made? Determined to confront the truth, Stack traveled to her employees' homes, met their parents and children, and turned a journalistic eye on the tradeoffs they'd been forced to make as working mothers seeking upward mobility--and on the cost to the children who were left behind. Women's Work is an unforgettable story of four women as well as an electrifying meditation on the evasions of marriage, motherhood, feminism, and privilege.

30 review for Women's Work: A Reckoning with Work and Home

  1. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    This book was a deeply and profoundly uncomfortable read and not in just the way that I expected it to be. I expected more of sociological or historical take on domestic labor interwoven with the author's experiences negotiating her own domestic help situation. Instead this was mostly a memoir of a privileged woman exploring her own transition into motherhood. There is an extended section on her labor that has nothing much to do with the thesis of the book and lots of time on her own parenting a This book was a deeply and profoundly uncomfortable read and not in just the way that I expected it to be. I expected more of sociological or historical take on domestic labor interwoven with the author's experiences negotiating her own domestic help situation. Instead this was mostly a memoir of a privileged woman exploring her own transition into motherhood. There is an extended section on her labor that has nothing much to do with the thesis of the book and lots of time on her own parenting and writing. The the tone of privilege is what is going to haunt me from this book. I was constantly ricocheting from being grossed out by her (did she actually just complain about her live-in help approaching her for a desperately needed day off because she hadn't had her coffee yet?! she has two women working more than full time for her family of four and she hires additional weekend help because, you know, who can do Sundays without the help?) and feeling completely implicated by own life choices (sending my baby to daycare means I don't actually have to know the daily struggles of the women looking after them. I don't have to look it in the face to the same degree as she does. I don't have to know where their babies are.). I want to think I'm better than her, but I wouldn't need to half as much if I didn't doubt that I am. Right when I was thinking that her lack of self awareness had actually led her to put this book into the world without trying to get the women's voices in it I came to the final section where she tries to report out their stories as though she is a journalist reporting on any other subject. It goes pretty badly and we never really get to hear from the woman themselves and she never fully grapples with why. Why are these woman so ultimately silenced even though she offers to tell their story? It's seems obvious that her power over them is not something that can ever be set aside once established and her act of writing about them continues and deepens that hold. Like Stack, I like to think I can live with my privilege but also acknowledge it, and as she shows over and over again in this book, you never really can. I guess ultimately I'm grateful for the stark reminder. Briefly at the end she touches on a large part of the solution - the men. (Why she ignores the actual social/historical/patriarchal structures at work here is beyond me.) Another crazy infuriating part of this book is her relationship with her husband. Either he is the worst and she should have left him because it's 2019 and if your husband doesn't know where the diapers are... ok, you shouldn't have married him to begin with, but now you can leave him. OR he has a very different take on all of this, which seems equally plausible and equally grounds for divorce. Regardless it was weird to read a book that should have been largely a critique of the patriarchy instead be a woman's justification of her own ways of playing into it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    If she had cut out all the sections about her birth story (memo to authors: I know everyone's birth story is harrowing, but it's so so boring to hear), this book would have been a complete 5 start. Still, her writing is so beautiful and the topic is so rich and important that it still gets 5 stars. I was so riveted by the book and I relate so much to the stories. I had mixed feelings about her and the help throughout the book, which I think is to be expected. I felt like the author was incredibl If she had cut out all the sections about her birth story (memo to authors: I know everyone's birth story is harrowing, but it's so so boring to hear), this book would have been a complete 5 start. Still, her writing is so beautiful and the topic is so rich and important that it still gets 5 stars. I was so riveted by the book and I relate so much to the stories. I had mixed feelings about her and the help throughout the book, which I think is to be expected. I felt like the author was incredibly privileged and just as I would start to get annoyed, she would beat you to it by admitting her flaws. Her husband does not not come off very well, but that I guess is also predictable and relevant. Excellent writing and topic. It made me want to read more books like it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Krystelle Zuanic

    This book was profoundly affecting in the worst possible way. This was a study of privilege and the reason why white women who are, at best, upper-middle-class (at worst, rich prats) should leave their commentary of domestic work of other women off of their writing desk. The quantity of racism, ableism, blind ignorance in the face of domestic violence, classism (oh my WORD, THE CLASSISM), the absolute absence of self-awareness was astonishing. We start with the tale of a birth- bit off-topic, bu This book was profoundly affecting in the worst possible way. This was a study of privilege and the reason why white women who are, at best, upper-middle-class (at worst, rich prats) should leave their commentary of domestic work of other women off of their writing desk. The quantity of racism, ableism, blind ignorance in the face of domestic violence, classism (oh my WORD, THE CLASSISM), the absolute absence of self-awareness was astonishing. We start with the tale of a birth- bit off-topic, but okay. The postpartum depression? Okay, important issue, more than happy to hear how that affected you, it's horrible. Worrying that the nanny is going to steal your child just because she's Chinese? Woah, hey, hold up. Come on. Take it back. Spending over 300 pages discussing how hard life is for YOU, how much of a struggle the fact that your 'help' as you so call them are facing violence, poverty, natural disasters, the fact that this somehow justifies both you and your husband treating any woman who enters your home terribly was, to be quite frank, disgusting. I had to force my way through this book, especially whenever her husband decided to make himself known and had some disgusting way of handling the work that was done. I think the saddest thing is that there are children involved in this whole tale, and that this woman allowed her capriciousness to impact how they were raised. Honestly, if you're going to read a book about domestic work, read one written by women who work in the field. Read one that wasn't about a white woman who lived to be suspicious of what those she employed were doing. Read one that's not marred by enormous bias and privilege. Read one that actually makes some sense and is from the perspective of people who live and work in this industry. Don't give more attention to people like Stack, who are, quite frankly, part of the problem.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Scribe Publications

    Memoirs about motherhood are exceedingly common, but Women’s Work dares to explore the labor arrangements that often make such books possible ... Stack writes sharp, pointed sentences that flash with dark insight ... ruthlessly self-aware [and] fearless. Jennifer Szalai, New York Times Women’s Work hit me where I live, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. The discomforting truths Stack reveals about caretaking and labor transcend cultural and national boundaries; this book is relevan Memoirs about motherhood are exceedingly common, but Women’s Work dares to explore the labor arrangements that often make such books possible ... Stack writes sharp, pointed sentences that flash with dark insight ... ruthlessly self-aware [and] fearless. Jennifer Szalai, New York Times Women’s Work hit me where I live, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. The discomforting truths Stack reveals about caretaking and labor transcend cultural and national boundaries; this book is relevant to everyone, no matter how or where they live. Stack uses her reporting acumen to illuminate domestic workers' struggles, but also fearlessly reveals the most vulnerable details of her own life in order to make her point. The masterfulness with which she tells these intertwined stories makes this book not just a work of brilliant journalism but a work of art. Emily Gould, Author of Friendship: A Novel and And the Heart Says Whatever If Karl Ove Knausgaard himself were a woman and had given birth, he might have written a book a little like Women’s Work. Megan Stack’s mastery of language and attention to detail make magic of the most quotidian aspects of life. But the subject matter here is hardly banal. Stack goes beyond her own experience of motherhood to focus on the Chinese and Indian nannies who helped her raise her children at the expense of their own. She brilliantly dissects the contradictions of motherhood by analyzing how motherly love becomes a commodity in this modern, globalized word. Barbara Demick, Author of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea Megan Stack is willing to confront hard questions that so many of us flinch from: the relationships between women and the women we hire to take care of our houses and our children, to do the traditional women’s work that gives “liberated women” the time to do traditional men's work. Women’s Work is a book of vivid characters, engrossing stories, shrewd insights, and uncomfortable reflections. Anne-Marie Slaughter, President & CEO of New America, and author of Unfinished Business Women’s Work is an incredible follow-up to Megan Stack’s celebrated book of war reportage, Every Man in This Village Is a Liar. It is a fierce and furious and darkly funny book about the costs of motherhood: the psychological costs, the costs in time and energy and spirit, and finally the costs imposed on other women, most of them also mothers, who leave their own children so they can take care of ours. I can’t think of a work that speaks more directly to our age of increasing inequality, starting with housework and child care, the oldest inequalities of all. Keith Gessen, Author of A Terrible Country A self-critical and heartfelt narrative ... beautifully written, informative, and sometimes harrowing as she recounts the joy, fear, and exhaustion of becoming a mother. What women — and men — can learn from Stack's story is that “women's work”, in all of its complexity and construction, should not be only for women. STARRED REVIEW Kirkus Megan Stack obliterates the silence that upholds one of our greatest taboos: our universal reliance on domestic labor that women — women of colour especially — are expected to supply freely or cheaply. With journalistic rigor, Stack centres the complicated lives of women who clean our homes and care for our children, but it’s her willingness to shine a light into the dark, typically untouched corners of her own family, privilege, and ambition that makes this book soar. Angela Garbes, author of Like a Mother Stack writes, unflinchingly, about what it was like for her world to shrink and her life to entwine with the lives of her hired help — who left their own kids behind in order to work in her home ... Stack’s writing is sharp and lovely, especially in the first section of the book as she deftly describes her plunge into new motherhood and year-long journey to find herself again. Erica Pearson, Minneapolis Star Tribune Stack truly becomes aware of the hardships facing the women she employs: alcoholism, domestic violence, poverty. She delves into their stories with searing honesty and self-reflection … Women’s Work is a brave book, an unflinching examination of privilege and the tradeoffs all women make in the name of family. Amy Scribner, BookPage Stack’s engaging style will have women everywhere nodding in recognition. FIVE STARS Robyn Douglas, Adelaide Advertiser Stack, who had stints in Jerusalem, Cairo, Moscow and Beijing for the Los Angeles Times, is a natural storyteller with an eye for detail ... This is a painfully honest investigation of what kind of compromises women make by hiring other women to do the grunt work ... Stack confronts a reality that many try not to think about: Who are the women who care for my children and clean my house? ... a double-edged indictment: of those, including Stack, who exploit domestic helpers in their desire to remain relevant in work but also of the men who abdicate responsibility ... In an unflinching way, Stack pulls the curtain back on the truths of women’s lives, especially the domestic part: how women make it work. Debra Bruno, The Washington Post Stack is admirably honest about her reactions and responses. Her prose is often a joy to read: sharp and full of insight. Henrietta McKervey, The Irish Times

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sally Stieglitz

    Megan Stack's Women's Work, is an important read for many reasons. It acknowledges a number of uncomfortable and irreconcilable truths: that childcare and housework are time and energy consuming labor which are not well respected or well compensated; that women's lives are deeply impacted by pregnancy, labor, and childbirth, and childcare, but that these impacts are overlooked and dismissed by all, including the women affected, who are unable to speak up without risking equal footing in the work Megan Stack's Women's Work, is an important read for many reasons. It acknowledges a number of uncomfortable and irreconcilable truths: that childcare and housework are time and energy consuming labor which are not well respected or well compensated; that women's lives are deeply impacted by pregnancy, labor, and childbirth, and childcare, but that these impacts are overlooked and dismissed by all, including the women affected, who are unable to speak up without risking equal footing in the workplace; that outsourcing childcare is the only time it becomes acknowledged as having market value, albeit a low value; that the reality is that we are often outsourcing childcare and domestic chores to women who are compelled by economic stressors to delegate the care of their own children elsewhere and lavish affection on their charges. that there is a discomfort in balancing the transactional nature of work for hire with the close familial relationship of domestic workers. Each of these truths merits its own discussion, but gathered together in the framework of Stack's experiences of motherhood, they are a compelling examination of the strictures on all women's lives and how economics and privilege play a key role in those lives.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    Such a joy to find a book that is written well, enjoyable to read and thought provoking. A book with purpose that divulges the complex world of working moms who hire other women to help watch their children and maintain their households; other working moms. It’s a complicated topic that is strongly written by a talented author who sees this world through her lens as a journalist - a reporter and a writer - with the added filter of her own motherhood. She explores through her memoir the dichotomy Such a joy to find a book that is written well, enjoyable to read and thought provoking. A book with purpose that divulges the complex world of working moms who hire other women to help watch their children and maintain their households; other working moms. It’s a complicated topic that is strongly written by a talented author who sees this world through her lens as a journalist - a reporter and a writer - with the added filter of her own motherhood. She explores through her memoir the dichotomy of our (women’s) desire to continue our careers when we become mothers by hiring domestic help who leave their own children behind, to take care of our children and houses, for a fraction of the pay of our own jobs. She explores the fragile relationships we build with our domestic help; the people we think we get to know (that some call family) but she points out we actually don’t know very well at all; how could we with the inherent imbalance of power. The author is direct and intense revealing insightful thoughts yet remaining open to living with this inner conflict; doing what she must to maintain her family and work life while struggling with her conscious and what is best for everyone. She thoroughly exposes herself through her vulnerability and dry humor. I highly recommend you read it. Thank you to NetGalley and DoubleDay for providing me an early release of this book in exchange for this honest and fair review. It was such a pleasure to read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amye

    I have really complicated feelings about this book. The author is unflinchingly honest in her characterization of herself, her husband, and the women they employ as domestic workers. She pulls no punches. She also isn't afraid to push back against problematic narratives that employers of domestic workers frequently use ("They're like a member of the family!") or the false women's lib promise that (mostly white) working mothers can "have it all" just by hiring another woman (often a mother of col I have really complicated feelings about this book. The author is unflinchingly honest in her characterization of herself, her husband, and the women they employ as domestic workers. She pulls no punches. She also isn't afraid to push back against problematic narratives that employers of domestic workers frequently use ("They're like a member of the family!") or the false women's lib promise that (mostly white) working mothers can "have it all" just by hiring another woman (often a mother of color with less resources) to handle the domestic sphere. Still, as I read I kept wondering when/if Stack would discuss the power dynamic that comes with her writing about these women she employed. I kept wondering, could Mary have really said no to being interviewed for this book while she was still receiving a paycheck from the family as their nanny? I wanted her to explore the fine line she had to walk between telling their story and selling them out.

  8. 4 out of 5

    KrisTina

    This is close to a 5 star book to me but part 3 was just a little too slow for me to give it the final star. Her descriptive writing made me relate so well to her thoughts on motherhood. She definitely is privileged (I read a review that was very dismissive of this book because of her privilege) but she does an amazing job of recognizing that privilege and not painting herself in a complementary light. She is hard on herself and I think that is also what makes me relate to her. In one experience This is close to a 5 star book to me but part 3 was just a little too slow for me to give it the final star. Her descriptive writing made me relate so well to her thoughts on motherhood. She definitely is privileged (I read a review that was very dismissive of this book because of her privilege) but she does an amazing job of recognizing that privilege and not painting herself in a complementary light. She is hard on herself and I think that is also what makes me relate to her. In one experience she compliments herself for helping and then the next paragraph it is all exposed to be so selfish. I found myself understanding that this is the role of a woman and at the same time - not being happy that this is the role of a woman. My children are constantly on my mind and a part of me in a way that is just different than for the man. Is that because of biology? Is it because of the world? I don't know - but this book has made me think harder about my role and the roles my children are watching me and my husband play. Also her husband comes off as a jerk. This book and the movie Tully are so much a part of my life right now. Constant exhaustion and trying to keep everything moving forward while still hiding a little bit of time for myself.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Karen Ng

    It wasn't until I had my children that I realized- there's no work- life balance as a mother. Both work and being a mother requires 100% of my focus and time. At the end, mothering won. Being a mother is always the choice for women with kids. We don't have any other options. There are just no alternatives in the US. The 2 weeks before and 4 weeks after maternity leave, the lack of governmental support for baby care, new mom, childcare, or healthcare force us to give up our career in order to rai It wasn't until I had my children that I realized- there's no work- life balance as a mother. Both work and being a mother requires 100% of my focus and time. At the end, mothering won. Being a mother is always the choice for women with kids. We don't have any other options. There are just no alternatives in the US. The 2 weeks before and 4 weeks after maternity leave, the lack of governmental support for baby care, new mom, childcare, or healthcare force us to give up our career in order to raise our kids. Being a mother is expected of us, as women, from the society, the world, our own families, our husband. I went per diem after my second child was born, giving up a 7- figure managerial job, my dreams, more degrees, my aspirations and my > 16 years of education. I gave up getting more diplomas, not because I'm not smart enough or couldn't afford it... I love challenges and learning. My children and my family just took up all my time. I continued to work per diem for another 20 years, earning much less than my husband due to my mom responsibilities, which eventually reflected in my SS payment at retirement - the true pay gap between men and women. This book is a must read for all thinking women. It's thought-provoking and challenges what we had been led to believe about feminism and why there will never be true equality for women anywhere. The author is a journalist/ writer, who truthfully shared her most intimate thoughts on motherhood,workload division at home, how being a mother jeoopardized her career, how it changed her marital relationship, how it changed her view about feminism, while also sharing her own private experience with hiring domestic help. I applaud her for her honesty. sheryl Sandberg was lacking in this category. Without the faceless and nameless poorer and usually women of color who gave up taking care of their family and children to take care of ours, there will be no leaning in...no lifting up. Every woman, working or not, would be stuck doing free labor since the beginning of time, while men keep moving up, moving on, reinventing themselves, seizing the moment, swiping left, living the YOLO and/ or FIRE life.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kara Ayers

    As another reviewer eloquently described, this book left me with complicated feelings. The writing was enjoyable and the stories somewhat relatable. I was exceptionally excited to read the description of this book-as a society, we need more of these discussions. Given her journalistic experience, I had expected Stack to dig deeper into this topic vs. get entrenched in her own, individual perspective on these issues. I found myself feeling really angry with her treatment of her employees. How man As another reviewer eloquently described, this book left me with complicated feelings. The writing was enjoyable and the stories somewhat relatable. I was exceptionally excited to read the description of this book-as a society, we need more of these discussions. Given her journalistic experience, I had expected Stack to dig deeper into this topic vs. get entrenched in her own, individual perspective on these issues. I found myself feeling really angry with her treatment of her employees. How many times must we be told that the nanny said something that was maybe confusing or unexpected and then the author responded as if she has no idea what the person could possibly mean. I also couldn't ever get over the irony that this woman who has clearly reflected on the role of gender either a) is married to a total jerk who doesn't respect her as an equal as evidenced by his inability (disinterest?) in learning where diapers are!? or taking even one day off of work **OR** b) she vastly mischaracterizes him to such a degree that he must be (should be) mortified. While the book poses questions about the ethics of domestic work, it also walks its own fine line. The women don't ever truly speak for themselves. The stories they do tell are questioned or all out doubted by the author. In conclusion, this could have been/should have been so much more. Surprisingly though, she's a strong enough writer and the subject matter intriguing enough on its own that I was hooked start to finish.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    I received my copy free through Goodreads Giveaways

  12. 4 out of 5

    Olga Gamer

    I was interested in this non-fiction book for two reasons: One, I have worked in domestic staffing for the past three years and while the demand for some staffing (Chefs, Butlers, Chauffeurs, etc.) wanes, the demand for Housekeepers and Nannies doesn’t. I’ve gotten to interact with the nicest of individuals, both candidates and clients alike, and of course, the not so nice ones. Two, when my husband and I’ve discussed children, it was always assumed that my mother would be our childcare option. I was interested in this non-fiction book for two reasons: One, I have worked in domestic staffing for the past three years and while the demand for some staffing (Chefs, Butlers, Chauffeurs, etc.) wanes, the demand for Housekeepers and Nannies doesn’t. I’ve gotten to interact with the nicest of individuals, both candidates and clients alike, and of course, the not so nice ones. Two, when my husband and I’ve discussed children, it was always assumed that my mother would be our childcare option. Since she’s developed some health problems, that may not be likely. When the writer, Megan K. Stack, was living in Beijing for her husband’s work, she was about to deliver a baby and start a book, nearly at the same time. To help write, she enlists the help of cheap Chinese labor and when her family moves to India, she enlists the help of even cheaper Indian labor. While the book markets itself as Stack traveling to the women’s homes to learn more about the sacrifices they’ve made with their families to help her with hers, I don’t believe that to be the case. This plotpoint doesn’t occur until the last section of the book and by then, I am so drained of the writer and her husband that I can’t devote the care and attention the other women deserve. While I’m glad the writer is honest about her and husband’s behavior, they’re not nice people, nor do they treat their employees with any such niceties. She complained when one of her live-in employees desperately needed a day off, which ended up costing the individual her marriage. The writer, while she tackles her own privilege, doesn’t do enough to address it. She complained that she didn’t have help on Sundays!! Her husband left dishes in the sink because “the maid will get to it tomorrow.” I wish that the book had more of the Chinese and Indian women that worked with the family rather than the writer and her family. We didn’t get a sense of the women, even in the last section. I’m curious if Mary would have agreed to the interview had she had not been employed by the writer. She also doesn’t confront a real part of the solution: men. Her husband is terrible and she doesn’t go into how he is part of the problem.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Anna Trahan

    This book was interesting. Basically the author is a professional writer who must put her career on hold when she has kids. The only way she can resume her work is to hire women to work for her as nannies and housekeepers. Which leads her to write this book about inequities etc. I would have found this a more compelling read if the writer hadn’t been so darn snobby herself. She acts like she’s better than all the other SAHMs she meets (which later we see is due to insecurity but tbh a lot of sno This book was interesting. Basically the author is a professional writer who must put her career on hold when she has kids. The only way she can resume her work is to hire women to work for her as nannies and housekeepers. Which leads her to write this book about inequities etc. I would have found this a more compelling read if the writer hadn’t been so darn snobby herself. She acts like she’s better than all the other SAHMs she meets (which later we see is due to insecurity but tbh a lot of snobbery that she admits to), and is majorly reluctant to even give days off when they had family emergencies, despite thinking of herself as a progressive and caring boss. Like geeze, your Russian novel can wait for two days while the housekeeper deals with life. At the same time, she is an amazing writer and expresses so well how she felt. She is amazingly privileged and I think that she did not always fully recognize that power dynamic in her relationships with staff, even though she says she did. However, this book brought up some important questions about women’s work both inside and outside the home.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    The topic of white women making careers and homes on the backs of women of color is an interesting and necessary topic that deserves a MUCH BETTER exploration than this book provides. This book, however, is BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORING. I do not care that the author thinks that you cannot be a REAL FEMINIST if you don't have kids (WTF?). I do not care about a white woman's reflections about the women of color who do a lot of stuff for her. I do not care that she thinks that parenting PLUS being a The topic of white women making careers and homes on the backs of women of color is an interesting and necessary topic that deserves a MUCH BETTER exploration than this book provides. This book, however, is BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORING. I do not care that the author thinks that you cannot be a REAL FEMINIST if you don't have kids (WTF?). I do not care about a white woman's reflections about the women of color who do a lot of stuff for her. I do not care that she thinks that parenting PLUS being a writer is SO HARD, Y'ALL, even with that help. I do not care that her husband is generally shitty and complains about things (the maid's cooking, for example) AND THEN DOES NOTHING TO HELP OUT OR DO THINGS FOR HIMSELF (lol). "The personal is political" does not mean you should write 300 pages about YOUR FEELINGS about the SIGNIFICANTLY LESS ADVANTAGED WOMEN WHO WORK FOR YOU. You made those choices. It does not mean that said choices are worthy of a book that is really all about you.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Maryam Mirza

    Whilst the author writes well, the content and messaging of this book is extremely problematic. I purchased this book seeking more of a sociological/psychological insight into the work women do, and thought (in the first few pages) that she would deliver that. Instead, this is a self indulgent memoir that reeks of colonialism - of the white invader, moving to a foreign land, and bitching about their "staff" incessantly. I learnt nothing from this book other than - this privileged white woman deci Whilst the author writes well, the content and messaging of this book is extremely problematic. I purchased this book seeking more of a sociological/psychological insight into the work women do, and thought (in the first few pages) that she would deliver that. Instead, this is a self indulgent memoir that reeks of colonialism - of the white invader, moving to a foreign land, and bitching about their "staff" incessantly. I learnt nothing from this book other than - this privileged white woman decided to procreate in foreign lands, was woefully ignorant about the difficulties of parenthood, hired WOC to do the "work" she "couldn't", complained about them, and failed miserably at both the "work" and the fabled book she was supposed to be writing. 2 stars simply because she CAN write well...it's just a shame her content was dreadful.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    I was interested in this book because of the essay she wrote for the NYT. Unfortunately, she doesn’t really expand on her thesis from that essay at all. This book is mostly memoir, with not much in the way of analysis about how and why we are in this state of affairs. The stories are interesting...but I was hoping she would use her experiences as a jumping off point to discuss the broader issue in more depth, but that never really happened.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Cobb Sabatini

    I won a Bound Galley of Women's Work: A Reckoning with Work and Home by Megan K. Stack from Goodreads. Akin to an honest conversation with fellow mothers, Women's Work: A Reckoning with Work and Home by Megan K. Stack is a memoir that enlightens, moves, and, perhaps, hits close to home for many readers. Stack worked from home while other women, mothers themselves, labored in her home as housekeepers and nannies, and the writer explores not only the women's stories and thoughts, but also her own f I won a Bound Galley of Women's Work: A Reckoning with Work and Home by Megan K. Stack from Goodreads. Akin to an honest conversation with fellow mothers, Women's Work: A Reckoning with Work and Home by Megan K. Stack is a memoir that enlightens, moves, and, perhaps, hits close to home for many readers. Stack worked from home while other women, mothers themselves, labored in her home as housekeepers and nannies, and the writer explores not only the women's stories and thoughts, but also her own feelings about the experience. A study about the paths women choose or feel compelled to take, the roles of mothers and other women in children's lives, and the expectations of societies where families live, Women's Work is an important book for both women and men who want to build a better world for children.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Very interesting contemplation on who does the care and what it costs. It covers unequal relationships, poverty and privilege. I have mixed feelings about the book / author in that ultimately this is another exploitation. That said, I think it was a very important topic and I enjoyed reading it - I wonder if the authors 'helpers' receive any royalties and what happened to the book she was writing during these years? Very interesting contemplation on who does the care and what it costs. It covers unequal relationships, poverty and privilege. I have mixed feelings about the book / author in that ultimately this is another exploitation. That said, I think it was a very important topic and I enjoyed reading it - I wonder if the authors 'helpers' receive any royalties and what happened to the book she was writing during these years?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Karen Adkins

    The subject matter here is compelling: the extent to which middle- and upper-middle-class women, usually, white, depend upon the exploitation of working-class women for their success. And at times her writing and analysis are really on point. But the book is more of a memoir than the title claims; it focuses almost entirely on the author's own experiences employing nannies and housekeepers in China and India. Stack makes considerable effort to explore the position of her employees--she interview The subject matter here is compelling: the extent to which middle- and upper-middle-class women, usually, white, depend upon the exploitation of working-class women for their success. And at times her writing and analysis are really on point. But the book is more of a memoir than the title claims; it focuses almost entirely on the author's own experiences employing nannies and housekeepers in China and India. Stack makes considerable effort to explore the position of her employees--she interviews her current nanny and housekeeper as well as her prior ones--but it doesn't seem like enough really to develop her argument about how exploitative the system is. (She raises the typical objections she hears--in developing countries, impoverished women appreciate the low wages and hard work of domestic labor--and has good responses, but because the book is so fully anecdotal, I do not see them persuading a skeptical audience.) In particular, the book feels like it could have used another revision; after she's interviewed her workers (the last 30 pages of the book), she starts reckoning with the ways in which they have coerced choices in their lives. This makes some earlier passages, where she describes one housekeeper joyfully and obsessively planning recipes to delight her husband, ring even more falsely than they had on my first reading. (I read this and immediately thought, is this housekeeper doing this simply out of love of cooking and pleasing, or prudently, because she recognizes that the husband has the ability to fire her?) At one point Stack says, as she puts her experience into context, "I could give you a ton of statistics about women's work" in the developing world, but that she won't, because it's not the point. That just struck me as excuse-making. I've marked a few passages that I will want to use and refer to, but there's very little otherwise that surprised or enlightened me. Which is a shame, because there's a real need for this kind of work in feminism.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    Wow- so I picked this up because of the positive ratings and being interested in the sociological/psychological aspects of "women's work", but what I got was a deeply disturbing half biography, half-sociological perspective on certain aspects of women's lives. I am not usually one to be overly feminist, overly non-feminist, focus on my femininity or being a woman in general-- I just am and I am who I am but literally the introduction soured me from the start about her privileged perspective. Tha Wow- so I picked this up because of the positive ratings and being interested in the sociological/psychological aspects of "women's work", but what I got was a deeply disturbing half biography, half-sociological perspective on certain aspects of women's lives. I am not usually one to be overly feminist, overly non-feminist, focus on my femininity or being a woman in general-- I just am and I am who I am but literally the introduction soured me from the start about her privileged perspective. That coupled with her overly dramatic and literary style of writing and I was making faces left and right. Then, I just had to stop because I was not interested at all. I needed more science and story- but not hers.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    This was beautifully written, I was fascinated to learn more about the cultures of India and China, and it made me think. I did feel some flashes of irritation, because, you know, #richpeopleproblems. Also, her husband seems like a total dick. But it was very honest and unflinching and I appreciated that.

  22. 4 out of 5

    elizabeth

    I thought my disappointment from this book steamed from it's misleading premise, but in rereading the jacket I see the confusion was all mine. This is a book about an upperclass woman living in Beijing and Delhi whose husband's job affords her to pay for childcare and other support at home while she writes the same book (still unfinished) for 4+ years. The first part of the book explains how she came to and adapted to this lifestyle and read more like a memoir of a woman adapting to becoming a m I thought my disappointment from this book steamed from it's misleading premise, but in rereading the jacket I see the confusion was all mine. This is a book about an upperclass woman living in Beijing and Delhi whose husband's job affords her to pay for childcare and other support at home while she writes the same book (still unfinished) for 4+ years. The first part of the book explains how she came to and adapted to this lifestyle and read more like a memoir of a woman adapting to becoming a mother- adjusting to life with a newborn and life without a job (a particularly significant adjustment when you consider that she previously worked as a traveling war reporter). The second part finds her in Delhi with two children and a homelife that is operating more smoothly; it focuses most on the personal dramas of her two domestic workers, and her sporadic but significant involvement in it. The final part is the crux of the book: she turns towards the three women who have worked in her home and asks about their lives and whether she may write about them. Here the jacket embellishes a bit, suggesting she "turns her journalistic eye" on the difficult choices the women in her household have made as working mothers. But there's not much journalism here. Xiao Li, from China, allows Stack an interview but not a peak into her own world (Stack notes the meeting places Xiao Li suggests to be places Stack herself would be comfortable). Mary, from India, spins so many different stories Stack can't be sure which, if any, are true. But rather than investigate she lets them all go when her mother astutely asks, "do you really want to take her stories away from her?"- proving why journalists typically keep a professional distance from their subjects. Only Pooja lets Stack into her life, bringing her to the village in which she grew up and speaking honestly of her current struggles- whether she should marry a man she met online who comes from money but is a recovering drug addict. Stack cannot get around the power dynamic between herself and these women, even when she assures them she wants to. It reminds me of what I tell new managers in regards to "befriending" their employees: you will always be their boss. You may want to and possible even can put that aside yourself but they do not have that luxury and you cannot forget it. That power dynamic will always be in play. It seems that Stack, a fantastic reporter but perhaps never before a boss, learned that here. Or maybe she didn't. Perhaps if she realized that these women wouldn't let her in in the way she wanted she would have also realized there was no book here- no book without glimpses into their true lives. Because of this the portion of the book about these women becomes a book about the women through the perspective of a rich white observer which, what's the point? Do we need another of those? I guess that, ultimately, I was hoping for more. More research, more generalities, more perspectives, more history, sociology, etc and certainly less specificity about the author's daily routine and the minutia of just three domestic workers. I thought, perhaps, Stack would be investigating this global phenomenon (wealthy women "having it all" by working full time with small children, necessitating the employ of less wealthy women to do their domestic work while leaving their own children, and on and on) rather than writing about its playing out on a small scale in her household. If that's what you, too, are looking for that is not this book. Hopefully it will be written someday. I'd even read it if it was written by Stack, whose accolades attracted me to Women's Work initially (Pulitzer Prize finalist in journalism) and whose writing powerful enough so as not to turn me off from reading another book of hers- many lines in the book were poignant and beautiful. Some things I liked: Stack is brutally honest of herself, her husband, her help. She documents every unseemly thought, every questionable action. The book could not have been more real or unbiased if written by a third-party observer. Her husband fairs most poorly: she specifically notes that the advancement of women is playing out in distribution of work at home, rather than in the boardroom, but she doesn't rectify this in her own home; her husband doesn't know where diapers or thermometers are kept. She speaks honestly and directly about the challenge of involving partners in the work in this fantastic passage below, but doesn't rise to the challenge. She could perhaps write an entirely different book about involving your husband in domestic labor- despite her decries that this is the answer she does not apply her own advice within. Another reviewer said, "Regardless it was weird to read a book that should have been largely a critique of the patriarchy instead be a woman's justification of her own ways of playing into it." I couldn't agree more. "But of course these stories are not only about women-they also scream the reality of men who manage to duck not only the labor itself, but the surrounding guilt and recrimination. All those well-meaning men who say progressive things in public then retreat into private to coast blissfully on the disproportionate toil of women./ In the end, the answer is the men. They have to do the work. They have to do the damn work! Why do we tie ourselves in knots to avoid saying this one simple truth? It's a daily and repetitive and eternal truth, and it's a dangerous truth, because if we press this point we can blow our households to pieces, we can take our families apart, we can spoil our great love affairs. This demand is enough to destroy almost everything we hold dear. So we shut up and do the work./ No single task is ever worth the argument. Scrub a toilet, wash a few dishes, respond to the notes from the teacher, talk to another mother, buy the supplies. Don't make a big deal out of everything. Don't make a big deal out of anything. Never mind that, writ large, all these minor chores are the reason we remain stuck in this depressing hole of pointless conversations and stifled accomplishment. Never mind that we are still, after all these waves of feminism and intramural arguments among the various strains of womanhood, treated like a natural resource that can be guiltless plundered. Never mind that the kids are watching. If you mind you might go crazy./ Cooking and cleaning and childcare are everything. They are the ultimate truth. They underpin and enable everything we do. The perpetual allocation of this most crucial and inevitable work along gender lines sets up women for failure and men for success. It saps the energy and burdens the brains of half the population./ And yet honest discussion of housework is still treated as taboo." On her husband's return to work after 2 weeks paternity leave: "Where did [he] think he was going? I had no reason to be surprised. ...we needed his job. Our domestic existence was balanced on his job. Who knew better than me? Yet, there I was, holding the baby among the dirty breakfast dishes in a domestic vignette straight out of the 1950s. It was atavistic, but it was happening. There we were, the son of a single mother and the feminist daughter of a feminist mother, re-creating the same old scene."And this, in the prologue: "...housework is seldom considered as a serious subject for study, or even discussion./ This is an injustice on a grand scale, for housework is everything. It's a ubiquitous physical demand that has hamstrung and silenced women for most of human history. I'd love to believe the struggle for women's equality is concentrated in offices and manufacturing plants, but I've become convinced that this battle takes place, first and most crushingly, at home./ When we are saddled with disproportionate work at home-and studies show that virtually all of us women are, particularly during child-rearing years-we are too embarrassed to say so out loud. We don't want to complain. We don't want to tax our romantic partnerships. And, in the end, we stand to be blamed. The fact of this disproportionate labor is further evidence of our incompetence. We didn't chose the right partner (we are foolish), we didn't stand up for ourselves (we are weak), we were outmaneuvered in our own homes (we lack tactical skills). It is proof that we are not sufficiently devoted to our children or our careers, depending upon who's doing the judging. It is proof-and there is ever more proof-that we ourselves are not sufficient." (In re-typing this I wish that Stack had written a concise op-ed instead of a book). Which brings me to one of my biggest criticisms, one of the things I struggled with most here. Is she trying to be a writer or is she trying to be a full time mother? The majority of this memoir (and that is what it is- not a book about domestic work but a memoir) can be defined by the adage that "the man who chases two rabbits catches none". If she wants to write, if she identifies as a writer, if she has an agent and needs to actually get a draft in her agent's hands then she needs to get out of the house for a significant period of time each day and put words on paper. Instead she tries to write in snippets of time carved out at home- hoping a caretaker will take her child out of the house or that her child will magically forget she's in the next room. If she wants to work she needs to carve out time to work and explain to her husband that she is working, that she cannot be responsible for household tasks from 9-5. This is where I found her privilege to be most obvious and annoying: she admits to her privilege of hiring help (even to cook and clean- for the majority of the book she employs two domestic workers simultaneously) but she ignores her privilege of not actually having to work, while pretending to (if you make no significant progress on a book for which you have an agent for years at a time, are you a writer?). Another piece of this I didn't like was how she describes the issue in such isolation. There are women like her who are upper middle class expats in poor countries and therefore can afford cheap labor and there are upper class women in the US who can afford the more expensive labor of nannies there. She seems to suggest this is it as far as domestic labor in your home. What about the middle class women in the US who participate in nanny shares? Or all the households in the US who employ part-time domestic work, such as cleaning or meal prep services? Where do daycares classify? What about the middle class families in poor nations who employ domestic help (I'm thinking of my husband's family in Peru) because it is part of the culture. She acts as if this is new: women working so other women can go to work, and perhaps it is for upper class white women or modern society in which we move nuclear families away from vast familial networks but, for many ethnicity and income levels the idea of needing help for your kids so that you may do the work required to feed them is nothing new. And so we read on- and I did, because it was compelling enough. It had enough strong and honest passages that hit home. I too, am expecting a baby and walking away from a career- with the plan to return but who knows? I am at a crossroads and can create for myself a new identity, as Stack did. Must create for myself a new identity, as my life will radically change and society will create one for me if I don't for myself. As I work from home I, too, am struggling to balance chores with my husband: yes, I am home and have more flexibility, no commute, but no I cannot be the sole homemaker as I am still employed. And if I wasn't, how much should I take on? Where do you draw the line? How do you distinguish between this being a temporary division of labor based on where we are in our lives at this time or these are the habits that will shape our entire existence from hereon out? But I am projecting. I would have liked to read that book too, a reckoning between Stack and her husband, but that is not this book. This book is a memoir as one woman learns to transition to motherhood as a stay-at-home, work-at-home mom. Who uses cheap domestic labor to do so. Who has to learn to become a boss in her own home. Who eventually wonders about the women she is spending so much time with. Then it becomes a bit of a memoir about them as well.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    I read about this book and ordered it right away. it's about how middle class women are able to have careers by hiring lower class women to take on their household tasks. stack happened to be abroad in china and india when she had her children and hired household help, but it's applicable to what happens domestically as well, because many housekeepers and nannies here are immigrants. I was taken aback at first by the poetic writing, more so than I expected in a nonfiction book (the work stack ou I read about this book and ordered it right away. it's about how middle class women are able to have careers by hiring lower class women to take on their household tasks. stack happened to be abroad in china and india when she had her children and hired household help, but it's applicable to what happens domestically as well, because many housekeepers and nannies here are immigrants. I was taken aback at first by the poetic writing, more so than I expected in a nonfiction book (the work stack outsourced the cooking, cleaning, and childcare in order to do was writing a novel - and then this book). what I love about the author is she is unflinchingly honest. she says at one point that if she could only save her husband or the woman who did her housework and childcare from drowning, she would have let her husband drown. I don't think she uses any statistics until the end of the book - she gives the narrative of her relationships with three women she hires as household help. it's very the personal is political. she points out that it's a relationship filled with guilt - these women are away from their children to take care of hers. it's also very messy. she gives up privacy. her home is a job site. the things she tries to do to make things better sometimes seem to make things worse. it's hard to see the boundaries of employer/employee in this emotional relationship. it's hard to navigate the differences in privilege. it's just very well written, very open, very well done. and although she herself doesn't do it in her own life, she bluntly writes about the heart of the problem and the solution to the problem: "all those well-meaning men who say progressive things in public and then retreat into private to coast blissfully on the disproportionate toil of women." "in the end, the answer is the men. they have to do the work. they have to do the damn work!...it's a daily and repetitive and eternal truth, because if we press this point we can blow our households to pieces, we can take our families apart, we can spoil our great love affairs. this demand is enough to destroy almost everything we hold dear. so we shut up and do the work." "cooking and cleaning and childcare are everything. they are the ultimate truth. they underpin and enable everything we do. the perpetual allocation of this most crucial and inevitable work along gender lines sets up women for failure and men for success. it saps the energy and burdens the brains of half the population...how do you manage to be out in the world, and if you are here, who is there?" I mean, there it is, laid out plainly. we know women continue to do more housework and childcare. we know that even when male partners do these chores, it is usually women who do the project management of the household - who remember who needs to be where when and with what, who plan and prepare, who delegate and explain the work. so in order to work outside the home, women must either take on this second shift, as arlie hochschild puts it, themselves or outsource it to poorer women, at great cost to those women's children.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Truong

    "It was motherhood that forced me to understand the timeless horror of our position. The obvious, hidden-in-plain-sight reason women had not written novels or commanded armies or banked or doctored or explored or painted at the same rate as men. The cause wasn't, as I had been led to believe, that women had been *prevented* from working. Quite the opposite: we had been doing all of the work, around the clock, for centuries." I found this book utterly captivating. I find myself growing dissatisfie "It was motherhood that forced me to understand the timeless horror of our position. The obvious, hidden-in-plain-sight reason women had not written novels or commanded armies or banked or doctored or explored or painted at the same rate as men. The cause wasn't, as I had been led to believe, that women had been *prevented* from working. Quite the opposite: we had been doing all of the work, around the clock, for centuries." I found this book utterly captivating. I find myself growing dissatisfied with feminist manifestos that uphold the idea that women can, women will, continue to progress and prevail in workplaces and in spaces formerly occupied by men. It's not that this is not a clear truth, but that it ignores a very inconvenient fact: that women are doing twice the work of their male counterparts. This truth is rarely acknowledged, it's personal and intimate and uncomfortable, and Stack doesn't shirk away from that reality. She is painfully honest of the challenges, and more importantly, the contradictory nature of domestic work in modern spaces. This book was far different than I imagined; I expected a litany of research stamped out to confirm what I already knew, that women's work is undervalued and underappreciated. However, Stack takes a much more personal approach, and it's one that I felt was highly effective in communicating the intimacy of this issue. I'd recommend this book to those who enjoy reading on gender dynamics, and also for those that are contemplating the challenges of balancing career and domestic life.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    This is such an interesting book, since it combines the angst of new mothers with the added burden of raising children in alien cultures. As a journalist, Stack has lived in many parts of the world, but when she becomes pregnant, she gives up her career to write a novel and support her husband's career. These choices take her to Beijing and to India where she gives birth, nurtures and starts to raise her two boys. In these locations, there is plenty of "cheap" help, but the question is who should This is such an interesting book, since it combines the angst of new mothers with the added burden of raising children in alien cultures. As a journalist, Stack has lived in many parts of the world, but when she becomes pregnant, she gives up her career to write a novel and support her husband's career. These choices take her to Beijing and to India where she gives birth, nurtures and starts to raise her two boys. In these locations, there is plenty of "cheap" help, but the question is who should raise the children? Can these women be trusted? What role do they play in the life of the family? Her feelings toward the women who run her house and raise her children bring her to the writing of this fascinating book, part memoir, part journalistic investigation about the lives and families of the women who raise hers. I found this glimpse into the Chinese and Indian cultures extremely interesting, especially the role of women in the society and the low expectations they have of all around them. Slack visits their homes and meets their families and gives us a view of the life of the "help" in these societies. I really enjoyed this book, and found if incredible that the feelings Slack had, despite her household help, are not so different from the feeling of every working mother, every new mother and every one of us who has left her children in the hands of strangers. This is a must for every woman to read and will spark discussions in seminars and book groups. Thank you NetGalley.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    This is much more of a personal memoir and much less of a journalistic expose than I expected from the blurb or articles I’d seen. It’s an easy read, and engaging. But. It’s incredibly difficult to use very personal experiences as a medium for telling a universal story well, and I’m not sure this succeeds. At times it’s very relatable, but at others it’s very cringeworthy, being told from a place of unappreciated or unrecognized privilege. Having lived in China and employed ayis myself, I can de This is much more of a personal memoir and much less of a journalistic expose than I expected from the blurb or articles I’d seen. It’s an easy read, and engaging. But. It’s incredibly difficult to use very personal experiences as a medium for telling a universal story well, and I’m not sure this succeeds. At times it’s very relatable, but at others it’s very cringeworthy, being told from a place of unappreciated or unrecognized privilege. Having lived in China and employed ayis myself, I can definitely understand some of the dilemmas she faces. Having read this book after the double whammy of reducing our ayi’s hours and finding her replacement work AND being at home constantly with two rambunctious kids and no help because of school closures due to COVID-19, even more so. Perhaps because employing another woman to help in your home is such a personal thing to do, regardless of whether you treat them like family or like no more than an employee, I don’t feel like I’ve been particularly enlightened by the read. It was an interesting read that will likely create interesting discussions at book group, but it wasn’t the revelation I thought it would be.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stella Fouts

    I gave Megan's book 4 stars ONLY because she's a great writer. By the end, I was definitely fed up with her whining about "women's work" all while using Chinese and Indian women so she could do her writing at home while they took care of her children, cleaned her house and cooked their meals. I was especially appalled at the (inadvertant) impact she had on the life of one of her helpers. She inserted herself into that person's home life in a way that had dire consequences. And then she has the a I gave Megan's book 4 stars ONLY because she's a great writer. By the end, I was definitely fed up with her whining about "women's work" all while using Chinese and Indian women so she could do her writing at home while they took care of her children, cleaned her house and cooked their meals. I was especially appalled at the (inadvertant) impact she had on the life of one of her helpers. She inserted herself into that person's home life in a way that had dire consequences. And then she has the audacity to track these women down in their own environment (in the name of getting their permission to include their stories in her story) to wrap up her book. She not only USED these people in a domestic situation, she used them emotionally. She's a person of privilege, which she acknowledges, but she also whines about it constantly (not to mention whining about having to take on the women's role in a husband/wife relationship). Give me a break.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sidnie

    Her writing is amazing - haunting, and beautifully captures the brief but endless period that is new motherhood while also showing the interdependence and closeness that women share during this time, especially women help a new mom with her baby. I definitely felt that she grasped and perfectly phrased the messy and intertwined nature of this relationship, as well as the more fraught part of that arrangement. She's also just an interesting person and learning more about her life and travels, as Her writing is amazing - haunting, and beautifully captures the brief but endless period that is new motherhood while also showing the interdependence and closeness that women share during this time, especially women help a new mom with her baby. I definitely felt that she grasped and perfectly phrased the messy and intertwined nature of this relationship, as well as the more fraught part of that arrangement. She's also just an interesting person and learning more about her life and travels, as well as the lives of these women, was enchanting. The unflinching nature in which she details this transaction is necessary - that rich (mostly white) women can buy the most precious resources - time and energy - from other, poorer women in order to "have it all" and that those who are negatively effected are the caregivers and their own children. However, it's impossible to overlook the privilege here. Though the author mostly does a solid job of recognizing this, I could not shake the feeling that this book was ultimately exploitative. It feels like she first attempted this work of nonfiction after she couldn't get her novel published. I think the stories of these women need to be shared and this relationship exposed, but I am not sure she should be the one to do this, and in this way. It ended up feeling that she took so much from these women, including their stories.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Miranda

    "I think about all the houses I've known since withdrawing from the world to work at home. I remember the scenes and the stories. And I think, somebody should investigate. Somebody should write about all of this. But this is my life. If I investigate, I must stand for examination. If I interrogate, I'll be the one who has to answer." "Women's Work" takes on the important topic of white working women who juggle career and motherhood primarily through the cheap labor of other working mothers, usua "I think about all the houses I've known since withdrawing from the world to work at home. I remember the scenes and the stories. And I think, somebody should investigate. Somebody should write about all of this. But this is my life. If I investigate, I must stand for examination. If I interrogate, I'll be the one who has to answer." "Women's Work" takes on the important topic of white working women who juggle career and motherhood primarily through the cheap labor of other working mothers, usually women of color. Examining, in effect, the systems and conditions that made it possible for her to write this very book. Given many reviews, I expected this to be a more sociological examination of that topic, examining patterns, perhaps alongside personal encounters with these situations, and proposing researched solutions. While the writing was gorgeous and the project of personally examining one's own privilege is admirable, the book's refrain of "I don't have the answers" for a variety of problems became frustrating, and the work could have benefitted greatly from the attempt to find some. As well as greater focus on the women she purports to write about, instead of lengthy narratives about going into labor or breastfeeding: while these nannies are characters in the broader narrative of her own motherhood, their lives and perspectives are largely relegated to the final and shortest section of the book. Having read several recent books surrounding the topic of women's labor and domestic work back-to-back for a class I'm about to teach, I would recommend "Fed Up" much more highly, as an examination of a woman's life personally dealing with some core gendered issues that this book (perhaps it's unfair to say) can only imagine as solvable through outsourcing. If you're interested in the lives of domestic workers, "Maid" or "In A Day's Work."

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nichola Gutgold

    Loved it. Read it in a couple of days and enjoyed the beautiful writing and accurate images of China and India. Made me think about class and what we do to raise our families. Great read for women’s studies classes.

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