Expecting Adam

by Martha Beck
Expecting Adam describes the author\’s experiences as a Harvard graduate student expecting a child, who she discovers has down\’s syndrome. First she has to decide whether to keep the child, or abort him. Then she struggles with confronting those who find her decision unacceptable- portraying the Harvard community as being totally intellectual-driven, elitist and unsympathetic to students who have difficulties balancing academics and challenges in their personal lives. Even after her son is born, the book still focuses mostly on the author\’s personal problems and not what it is like to raise a disabled child. Eventually she realizes she needs a change in perspective- but the way she goes about it really surprised me. Her exploration into supernatural and paranormal spiritual experiences totally strained my ability to believe her story. The were just too many unbelievable events, one after another. Beck\’s writing is wry, sarcastic, funny- and terribly unflattering (even condescending and unkind) to her family members and academic peers. I have to say if I knew her personally, I\’d really cringe at reading this book. She herself comes across as being emotionally unstable and quite selfish at times.

Sadly, I found out this book was first written as a fictional novel, but Beck couldn\’t get any publishers interested until she marketed it as non-fiction. So is this another fake memoir? I\’ve become highly skeptical of the veracity of any memoir by this point. And because reading Expecting Adam raised doubts of the author\’s credibility in my mind, I wonder now how much of Leaving the Saints was purely fabricated or exaggerated too? You can read more about the author here and here.

Rating: 3/5                    335 pages, 2000

6 Responses

  1. It\’s a shame that we have to question whether memoirs are true or embellished. It\’s not fair for those who write true non-fiction memoirs!

  2. Such a frustrating issue, isn\’t it? I mean truthful or non-truthful. I\’m interested in this book, for the subject matter, although if you felt the writing went a bit wonky, than I suspect I\’ll end up skipping it.

  3. I actually enjoyed the writing. Found it quite funny and entertaining most times. It was how the subject matter veered into implausible new-agey spiritual experiences that lowered this book\’s quality for me.

  4. Well, I think I can give this a miss. When I was pregnant with our third child, I was told I had a high chance he was going to have Down\’s. I refused to have the amniocentesis test because there was a higher risk of losing the baby if I had it, and i realized I wanted the baby no matter what. While graham doesn\’t have Downs, it\’s something that I found changes a person, and does make the family very aware of how our society promotes and celebrates intellectual capability over capacity for loving. Thanks for the review, at last one book I can cross off the \’to be read someday\’ list!!! 🙂

  5. Another book that starts off sounding very interesting only to have it fall at the end it seems. I don\’t like books that get a bit too far \”out there\”

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