Look How Happy I'm Making You

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 02 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

I enjoyed the book. I felt like despite being short stories, they flowed and fit together. As someone who has zero interest in children, I liked that seemed realistic and not baby-pushing. I think even people who don't have an interest in short stories would like this collection, it really was cohesive and interesting.
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In her literary debut, //Look How Happy I’m Making You//, Polly Rosenwaike gives readers twelve sincerely engaging stories exploring motherhood in all its varieties. We read of women moving on from miscarriage, enduring infertility, handling an unplanned pregnancies, trying to parse relationship changes, moving through postpartum depression, finding a path to become a mother, surviving infant death, and simply being undergoing an ordinary pregnancy. 

What is perhaps most delightful about these stories is how centered on the woman protagonist in each they are. These aren’t stories about women dealing with men (although that’s there) nor are they stories about women yearning for children (although again that’s there). What these stories are primarily concerned with are the women themselves visualize, vocalize, and empathize about their bodies.

Rosenwaike’s prose is sophisticated but never overly literary. Her tone and observations allow these characters to feel intensely real and inviolate. She deftly navigates emotionally difficult terrain while getting at the heart of both her characters’ and readers’ hopes and anxieties. //Look How Happy I’m Making You// is a satisfying short story collection which will likely leave readers uneasy and appeased.
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WOW. I am in pieces on the floor ready for whatever Polly Rosenwaike's next book will be because right now I feel like only more of her words will be able to put me back together. I am not a mother, I've not had an abortion or a miscarriage or lost a child but... these stories shook me to the core, easily handing me the empathy I needed to be rocked by the good times and the very bad had within these pages. Each time I was comfortably following along, getting to know the characters, I was hit with the confusion of a casual couple's discovery that they'd accidentally conceived, or a happy new mother's world rocked by a newborn lost to SIDS, or complex family drama over who decides a baby's upbringing, or postpartum depression, or a single woman forced to choose between an abortion or raising the baby alone- as she watched her older friend decide after too many failed attempts that she'd adopt, etc.

I am simply astounded at Rosenwaike's transformative ability to write broad stories that fit into such a brief number of pages. If you're a fan of fiction but don't tend to pick up short story collections- I'm pretty sure this book will change your mind. I'm sort of a recent convert myself. Over the last 2 years I've read perhaps a dozen collections and loved more than half, but Rosenwaike has fully opened my eyes to the potential of a brilliant story, she is truly something else. Incorporating second person narratives, lists, and wonderfully succinct character arcs- I savored it all.
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Polly Rosenwaike articulated my thoughts and feelings  better than I ever could in these 12 exceptional stories. This isn't just a collection about motherhood, instead it's a collection about relationships, bodies (loving and hating), emotions, pregnancy and childbirth, and mental health.
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These short stories will appeal to many readers, but if you're a mom you have to read them! There have been so many amazing books written about the plight of modern motherhood and this is an excellent addition. Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious, there is something to appeal to everyone at every stage of motherhood.
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Stories of Mothering and Not

In this debut collection of short stories, Polly Rosenwaike’s sticks to her theme of motherhood while addressing the satellite–and often discomforting–issues including but not limited to abortion, miscarriage, babies living and dead, parents, dating, sleep, and a rather sad Mother’s Day. Perfection isn’t even discussed; these women are messy, and by telling many different versions of being a woman, Rosenwaike conjures up a landscape of longing and isolation even as one becomes two or two becomes one.

Wendy Ward
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My Thoughts: I’m generally not much of a short story reader, but was drawn to Rosenwaike’s collection because of its theme of issues around the idea of motherhood. For women, I think there is some universal appeal there. I opted to listen to the audio version due to the rockstar lineup of narrators. That was a smart choice!

The first couple of stories really drew me in. Grow Your Eyelashes focused on a woman struggling to get pregnant, seeing babies everywhere, and then finding that her sister is pregnant. It was touching and real. A group of childless women who had also all lost their mothers got together every Mother’s Day in White Carnations. Their easy dynamic was upended when one got pregnant. My frustration with these stories, is the same I have with many short stories: just as I’m getting invested in the characters, the story is over. But, I suppose that’s more my issue. The other thing that bothered me was I felt some of Rosenwaike’s stories got a bit repetitive. My advice would be to read the stories in Look How Happy I’m Making You here and there and not in succession, as I did. 

Note: I received a copy of this book from Doubleday (via NetGalley) in exchange for my honest review.
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As a mother of three, I was very excited to read this book that was all about pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood.  The only short stories I have really liked was Curtis Sittenfeld's short story collection, You Think It, I'll Say It. I am thrilled to report that I enjoyed this book even more.

While the theme of each story is similar, ie pregnancy and motherhood, each story is very different, so they don't seem repetitive in the least. Each main character has a new perspective on motherhood and an entirely new story to tell. (I will add that the book could be triggering for some people, especially those dealing with pregnancy loss or infertility). 

The stories are relatively short, which made the book an easy read, especially when considering how deep some of the topics are. I found myself pausing in between the stories to let the weight of each one settle on me and so I could process it. The book presents a wide variety of perspectives that I hope will make me more empathetic to other women and  help me remember that while our individual lives may be different, we can all still relate to each other in one way or another. I highly recommend this short story collection!

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my advanced reader's copy in exchange for this honest review!*
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I’m one of those people that don’t love short stories. I’m just not a fan. I feel that they sometimes lack in character development. On the other hand, I have read short stories that leave me amazed at how much an author packed in so few pages. Usually, with short stories, I end up liking some of the stories presented by am left underwhelmed by others. I am here to tell you that this was not the case with Look How Happy I’m Making You, I loved all of the stories. I had my favorites but even the ones that weren’t favorites were still such a great read. One of the things that fascinated me about every story is the author’s fascination with language. She uncovers the meaning of words, their inception and the connection to the events that the words are connected and how that changes the meaning of the words. This thread follows each story, tightens their connection along with the stories on being a mother, a daughter, a witness to this natural miracle that should become ordinary but it never is. I have my own thoughts on being a mother and I rarely read about motherhood. Maybe because I have this preconceived notion that every book on motherhood will only expound on the brilliance of it and that rubs me the wrong way. I can’t even imagine what it is like to be a mother but I loved that this book provided nuances to the experience. It provided different perspectives on being a mother, a daughter, wanting to be childless but your partner wanting a child, simultaneously going through grief while growing a life, losing a mother, losing a baby through miscarriage, losing a baby to SIDS and all the other precarious everyday things involved with getting pregnant and raising a child. I loved that each short story is solid, the character’s insights and perceptions are presented to us in such charming language but yet they don’t undercut the deep perspective that the author gives us into motherhood. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and looked forward to picking it up every time life forced me to put it down. I would suggest giving it a chance. The stories keep getting better and better as we keep going. My favorites were Tanglewood, Field Notes, and June. The Dissembler’s Guide to Pregnancy was a hard read and if you read it and wish to discuss your thoughts please let me know. Overall, I give this short story book five stars. 

Thank you Doubleday Books and Netgalley for the free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I'm not usually a fan of short stories, but this collection of stories gripped mes. As a late 20-something woman, these stories rang true and relevant, and each story had an element which I recognized hearing from the ladies around me. Whether it be pressure for conception, abortion, miscarriages, postpartum depression, or whether you want to get pregnant as an anchor in a relationship, everything felt scarily real. Polly Rosenwaike injected humor into mostly humorless situations, sometimes being uncomfortably real (there was a story or two about miscarriages and the feelings that surround them that I especially related to). I give the book four stars simply because I personally just enjoy the format of a full story better; Polly Rosenwaike is a talented writer who captivated me. I felt the same way reading these stories as I felt while reading Sally Rooney's Conversations with Friends. Some characters in these stories were wholly unlikable, but you still wanted to read about them. I would recommend this to everyone. I feel like ladies would enjoy this collection because there's so much to relate to in each story. Men in particular I feel should also read it - there's so much to learn and so much to discuss with potential partners.
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I received an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review 

Bravo! This book was everything- so many feelings at once (most of them painful) but so worthwhile as it pulled together all the complicated and conflicting  emotions women feel about reproduction. There’s abortion, miscarriage, infertility, post partum depression, ambivalence, all of it. The characters are relatable even when you wish they weren’t so. An easy five
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Babies, babies, babies! While at the same time reading The Farm by Joanne Ramos, I feel like baby fever is in the air! Look How Happy I'm Making You by Polly Rosenwaike was a baby-filled short story collection that shows some of the joys (and a lot of the woes) that come with popping out a human of your very own! Tackling issues with postpartum depression, infidelity, and unwanted pregnancies  (for her AND for him), this collection does not shy away from the truth. 
Mothers to newborns are usually lifted to the holy pedestal of perfection, with people telling them that everything should just "come to them naturally." Babies are supposed to be the "cure all" for relationships and marriages, bringing families together in common agreement.
This, as the stories show, does not always happen. As a mother to nobody, I spent most of this book in absolute awe of how relatable the characters were. How the difficulties in their lives are so very real and need to be discussed. 
This book serves as a comfort to the disheveled, the unsure, the depressed, the "tough titties" woman whose titties aren't so tough, and, of course, anyone who has ever thought of throwing a baby down a staircase. 
Sharp-witted and relatable, this collection is  a must read for 2019.
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Pregnancy. Birth. Abortion. Miscarriage. Parenting. These are all themes of the stories in this lyrical, thoughtful volume.  Amusing at times, tear shedding at others, the stories here offer something the reader can relate to. I read it in one sitting. I will definitely look for more from this author.

Copy provided by the Publisher and NetGalley
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A collection of short stories centered around motherhood, reproductive rights, and distinctly female experiences. I don’t typically go for short stories, because as soon as I get captivated by the characters, it’s over! However, this was so well written, I read the everything cover to cover in just a few days. Ms. Rosenwaike doesn’t shy away from tough subjects, covering infertility, reproductive rights, childbirth, adoption, and postpartum depression. I’d recommend for women who are looking for books uniquely female. Buy it for your best friend!
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'A woman’s body was suppsed to know exactly what to do.'

In Polly Rosenwaike’s debut collection of stories, women are confronting more than just motherhood. There are relationship struggles, bodies that are failing to behave as nature intended, and conflicting emotions within their own minds. Growing up girls are rarely privy to the reality of pregnancy and childbirth. It isn’t like all those movies where an unexpected pregnancy is a happy blessing, or the moment you try for a baby its immediate succes, the men are all adoring, the mother to be is glowing and when the time comes the couple has supportive family, friends, money and boom her body is back to its pre-pregnancy shape. Of course the baby and mother bond instantly, there isn’t any struggle breast-feeding, absolutely no sign of postpartum depression!

The reality is, there is jealousy particularly when you can’t get pregnant and all around you everyone else seems fruitful. Some women wait for a partner to arrive and realize they are stuck in a constant state of expecting, better maybe to have a child alone, for another her child’s birth represents the cycle of life and death as her beloved aunt is dying, a moment of joy tangled in grief. Pregnancies themselves aren’t one size fits all, for some months are spent consumed by illness, stress, pain. Some women get desperate and lie, their desire to grasp at their last chance to have a child before their biological clock turns everything off. Maybe forcing a man who is too young, who hasn’t chosen to be a father, through deceit. That sometimes, dishonesty feels like the only way to get what you want.Then there is the depths of postpartum depression, because expectant mothers never truly think it will happen to them. Your emotions turning you against your own nature, a dual person who can love and then feel resentment towards the baby, repulsed with breast-feeding, exhausted, visualizing doing terrible things to your child. Oh no, you would never! Courting thoughts of your own demise…all the panic within’. This is just one window to look through at the characters within.

A woman  psychologist is a ‘curator’ of babies laughter, but one infant’s silence is a tragedy that forces her to face her own cowardice. A childless couple (by choice, in agreement) find a shift in their desires when the husband changes his mind, because men can feel the tick of a daddy clock too. The manuals will tell you a lot, but not everything. There is so much advice about pregnancy, parenthood in books, from friends, doctors, family, strangers and online, and still yet it might not speak to your situation. Parenthood makes you hate and love your partner, it can seal your bond or break it. A woman may dream of being a mother her whole life, idealizing motherhood but when the moment comes may feel like an absolute failure. Another woman may become a mother on accident, with reluctance and fall head over heels, discover she was born for it, a natural! Others may decide to go it alone, or to never have a child at all. The kingdom of parenting never truly runs smoothly. It is a land dominated by disruption, illness, surprise attacks as much as celebration and love. Our bodies through pregnancy are the same, they can be foe or friend. Our thoughts can betray us just as much as those we love, and that bundle of joy along with our hormones can wreak havoc too, reminding mothers “Look How Happy I’m Making You”. Yes, read it! There has been quite a bit of fiction recently delving into the territory of motherhood and I champion it! We need to explore every crevice of what can go wrong (or even just feel wrong) as much as the good. When a woman is struggling, it shouldn’t be a desert period with no one to help. It’s good to know that it isn’t all teddy bear picnics, that women just like you struggle sometimes. There really isn’t a solid ‘supposed to’ in pregnancy, parenthood. It isn’t ‘one size fits all’. What pressure to be told what you should feel, how you’re meant to engage as if each baby is quiet, peaceful. Some babies come into this world squalling and how can you not resent the smugness of mothers whose little sweatpea sleeps like an angel bragging about their special bond. I wish I could have read such fiction when I was a young mother. This will be out in the new year!

Publication Date: March 19, 2019

Doubleday Books
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Thank you to Doubleday and NetGalley for the advanced read.

What a gem collection of short stories about mothers, mothers to be, or women who have a motherly role.  This intimate collection captures their ups and downs during pregnancy and new motherhood.  I wished that some of the stories continued into novels, which is a good complaint to have.
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