Book Review: The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Reality of the Biological Clock, Tanya Selvaratnam

The Big Lie Cover

Summary from

A candid assessment of the pros and cons of delayed motherhood.

    Biology does not bend to feminist ideals and science does not work miracles. That is the message of this eye-opening discussion of the consequences of delayed motherhood. Part personal account, part manifesto, Selvaratnam recounts her emotional journey through multiple miscarriages after the age of 37. Her doctor told her she still “had time,” but Selvaratnam found little reliable and often conflicting information about a mature woman’s biological ability (or inability) to conceive.

Beyond her personal story, the author speaks to women in similar situations around the country, as well as fertility doctors, adoption counselors, reproductive health professionals, celebrities, feminists, journalists, and sociologists. Through in-depth reporting and her own experience, Selvaratnam urges more widespread education and open discussion about delayed motherhood in the hope that long-lasting solutions can take effect. The result is a book full of valuable information that will enable women to make smarter choices about their reproductive futures and to strike a more realistic balance between science, society and personal goals.”

Parenthood is a choice, a very personal choice, some woman make that choice to become parents very early in their lives, some choose to wait until their careers and a marriage are set in stone before proceeding with that choice.  Sometimes it’s a young woman who becomes a mother before her ‘prime’ as in teen mother’s – though maybe on purpose, and maybe by accident – either way those children or now rearing children.  When a woman waits to have her children she unknowingly is going against Mother Nature and the race against her biological clock.  My own mother told me repeatedly ‘don’t wait too long to have kids, if you want them, once you turn 35 it’ll become more and more difficult to get pregnant’ and trust me this was repeated often to myself and my sister, why? Because she did not want either one of us to go into our lives with a basic lack of information on how our biological clocks works and what time will do to us.  While she never really explained it in as much detail as our author does, she did tell us that it would just be more difficult.

Personally, I took this advice to head – initially I did not want to be a parent – but then I got married at 23 and something clicked – I decided I wanted to be a Mom.  While my husband was initially not so gang ho about the whole thing, he jumped on the wagon pretty easily.  We got pregnant without actually really trying, twice! And now we have two beautiful children I wouldn’t trade for the world.  However, some of my friends from college did not have such luck – for them it took some doing, with two of them going down the quiet road of infertility.  Though neither was shy about discussing their troubles, I got the feeling that they’d have preferred to not have to go down that road at such a young age.

After having read The Big Lie my feelings on the topic and the book are mixed, in terms of the topic I have to agree with the author that the information she presents is vital to young men and women so they have the chance to make educated decisions about their reproductive health.  In terms of the book though I found it to be extremely dry, reading almost like a textbook vs. an informational self-help book it was presented to me as.  At just over 200 pages of quotes, statistics, and a very personal story, this book was not something I could read all at once, it was just too difficult.  I found it hard to get into the meat of the book, and just as I was starting to find myself immersed in the author’s story she would switch gears on me and jump into statistics, or quote after quote after quote from this person, or that person, and it just dragged on.  If you are looking for information, you can pull it piecemeal from this book; I don’t recommend reading the whole thing cover to cover.

One out of five stars on this one.

**I received a copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review**

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