Friday, December 18, 2009

Book Review: The Power of Women

The Power of Women
By Sister MorningStar
Motherbaby Press, 2009
ISBN 978-1-890446-43-7
201 pages, paperback, $29.95

Reviewed by Molly Remer, MSW, ICCE

Occasionally, a book comes into my life that touches me so deeply that I am at a loss for words. The new book, The Power of Women, by Sister MorningStar, is one of those rare books. A treasure. A gem. A rare jewel. A delight. These are the words that do come to mind. However, superlatives--though true--do little justice to describing the actual book.

The Power of Women is a book of "instinctual" birth stories told through the eyes of a gifted and sensitive midwife. The stories are from her perspective, not the mother's. Each story has either a lesson to share or is a glimpse into that deep inner wisdom and strength found in birthing women that is so easily ignored or dismissed in our modern birth culture. This book is good "word medicine" and the empowering stories within it shine a light to help other women trust their instincts. This light also helps other birth professionals rediscover the magic and mystery and wonder of birth and women.

The Power of Women also touched me in a special way because the author divides her time between my own native Missouri and a birth center in Mexico. Some of the stories shared take place in each location (more from Mexico). I found it delightful to discover the power of my own Missouri midwifery activist friends represented throughout the book. Familiar names and faces graced the pages for me and it was a treat to experience that connection.

The book consists of twelve chapters, each containing 5-9 different stories each. The stories themselves are not long, narrative birth accounts, but are moments captured brilliantly for the glimpse of powerful truth they share. Some are only 1/2 page in length--but the depth in each is great. The chapters are titled things like "Stories of Power" or "Stories of Courage" or "Stories of Community and the tales shared therein are loosely bound together with that common thread.

To be clear, not all of the stories are "happy" or are necessarily "good" birth stories, some are even fairly scary and even depressing. All are powerful.

My only critique of the book, which I hesitate to share because it seems petty in light of such a beautiful and wise book, is that the formatting of the text is odd. The font size is small and the text tightly spaced with very small indents.

If you find yourself in a place where you feel trapped alone in a world where the birth you love so much is becoming a "mythological story," read this book. If you are an aspiring or current midwife, doula, or childbirth educator and wish to deepen your understanding of birth, read this book. If you are a pregnant woman hungering to dig deeply into instinctual birth and the wisdom and power of story, read this book. The Power of Women is a powerful, touching, and magical journey.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

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