As someone who has been blogging since 1996, I have been following Armstrong and her web site since its humble beginning in 2001. That said, I really wanted to like this book. I waited and waited and waited for something to capture me; I even put it down for a few days, hoping to pick it up and have an "a-ha" moment. That didn't happen. For anyone who read Armstrong's entries surrounding her daughter's birth and her own eventual stay in a mental hospital, this material will seem like a hard copy of those very entries. Armstrong can write, no doubt about it. However, I was disappointed by her first attempt at a stand-alone memoir. Also, the humor felt a bit forced. She can deliver one-liners and zingers with the best of them but I expected something more substantial.
I recommend reading her old blog entries or checking out the book via your local library, as the $16 could be better spent elsewhere. This book is not her best writing or effort. Also, if you find yourself offended by profanity, multiple references to POOP, and breast talk--this isn't the book for you.
*Note: I didn't finish this book, so I don't know whether it got better after the point where I put it down.*
This book is cute, but definitely reads like the collection of blog posts that it is, and not a complete work on its own. The author's tone is forced hilarity, and her over-the-top exaggerations sometimes land well but most often don't. Oddly, while she writes about how becoming pregnant forced her to focus on bigger problems ("Never before had I had such a sense of what is and isn't important, and people like the bassist of the band we saw just need to grow up." [p.42]), she in fact seems to spend most of the book focusing on the small inconveniences of pregnancy, such as how hard it is to get out of bed with a 3rd-trimester belly.
I didn't make it very far past Armstrong's delivery, and what I was really hoping for was a frank discussion of her postpartum depression. However, based on the first half of the book, I'm guessing she doesn't drop her schtick and honestly discuss her experiences. I didn't share any of her anxieties. Most annoying to me was that the baby looked so much like the father that she hardly believed it was her own. Even though this was supposed to be funny I thought it was a little insensitive: she had a perfectly healthy, lovely baby, which is not really grounds for complaint; and furthermore it is possible to love and be proud of a baby you are caring for even if, heaven forbid, it isn't even yours, so having one that doesn't particularly look like you shouldn't be cause for alarm, or fake alarm, or whatever.
There were so many interesting questions I was hoping to read about: what is it like to both have your experience, and have to mediate your experience for your blog readers? How did you feel about publishing so much information about your infant online, and did you worry about her future privacy concerns? How did postpartum depression affect your ability to parent and your ability to write about parenting? Did leaving your faith affect your relationship with your family, which must have changed anyway when your child was born? Did having a child affect your faith? None of these questions was answered for me. Instead, she spent page after page wondering things like, "Why couldn't we have her go from toddlerhood straight to self-sufficiency and bypass all the bad hair and braces and lessons in menstruation and endless nights of crying because her boobs aren't big enough?" [p.135]. Cute, but not what I was hoping for.
Despite all this, I think this book would have been fun to read in the last few months of pregnancy or the first few months of parenthood. It's kind of like the memoir equivalent of a comic strip. It's not very deep or thoughtful, but it might be good for a few laughs in what is otherwise a very strange and difficult time. I would not recommend it for people not currently giving birth, though.