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Sunday, May 4, 2014

{Book Review} Unwell by Marie Chow

Book Title: Unwell
Author: Marie Chow
Publisher: Career Student Productions
Publishing Date: January 2014
Length: 258 pages
Source: Author for honest review

How do you tell your child that you won’t be there when they grow up? UNWELL is the raw, honest story of a mother who writes to her unborn child, sharing her decision of choosing not to be a mother. She doesn’t take the road to abortion. She decides to give her child a fighting chance in life, without the angst and drama that’s shaped her own bittersweet life.

With a poignant lack of emotion, the young mother shares her life story. As the child of Asian parents who moved to America early in her life, the mother shares how her life disintegrated after her parents’ divorce. From upper middle class suburban to sharing her mean aunt’s house to a one bedroom apartment in a shabby neighborhood, this mother endures the indignity that comes with the change of status. From her father’s absence to her mother becoming a married man’s mistress, her story reads like a tragic Victorian novel set in the 21st century, but that’s where the similarity ends—she is definitely not a shy country miss and she certainly did not take the easy way out.

This amazing story chronicles the life of a woman who fought for everything she got, faced her demons and made the hard choices. Her fortitude and candor are disarming, her avant-garde views strangely endearing. You’ve never read a book like this and probably never will again. Get your copy today and take the literary journey of a lifetime. Through this glimpse into the life of a woman of integrity, sacrifice and love, you’ll feel her pain, live her failures and cheer for the meager joys that come her way. But the one thing you’ll never do… is forget her. Or her story.

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I am not quite sure where I stand on this book. It left me unsettled even after I spent a night totally engrossed in reading it. I agreed to read and review when approached by the author because it appealed to me on a variety of levels. It is about an asian american young woman talking/writing to her unborn child. I liked the asian aspect as I myself am half-asian and thought it'd be interesting to read a story about an american raised asian child. The main character is also about my age, so there is that appealing factor as well. And then I liked the idea of writing a letter to her unborn child.

What I did not expect was the kind of letter she was writing to her unborn child.

For such an emotional event such as pregnancy, the protagonist is very removed from her pregnancy. And yet there is some poignancy as she remarks about how excited the baby's father is for the impending arrival. The mother gives her history to her baby, writing it in a journal, and it isn't a sweet story. It's a story about divorce, and her parents' failures, and her mother's choices, and ultimately how those events shaped the mother's life.

It's an emotional book. I don't think you'll cry, but you'll probably comment on the mother's words and choices and actions and think, "what a jerk!" and you'll pity the protagonist as you see this emotional disconnect that she has. She wishes for a great love for her unborn baby, but wants nothing to do with being a mother herself.

I am truly uncertain as to how this ends. Is she writing a long suicide note? Does she plan on just leaving? With her history of mental illness and distress, I leaned towards suicide as the implication. She is giving her baby life, but taking her own in the process. Very sad, very moving, very very unsettling. I've never read anything like this before. I am not sure if I liked it because it was just so incredibly realistic, especially as I think about conversations with friends and coworkers. But I didn't hate it. I'm unsure how to categorize something like this. It's moving. It's unsettling. Is it a favorite fiction novel I will reread over and over? No. Am I glad I read it? Yes. It makes you think and imagine what it might be like with you in that woman's shoes. 

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