Cover Image: Flesh & Blood

Flesh & Blood

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Member Reviews

A devastating and truthful look at the female body and experience, and a deep dive into the biomedical world that so often denigrates both.
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This fragmented collection of essays was AMAZING. I absolutely loved this book so much and related to it more than I could've imagined. The author takes an introverted look at motherhood, infertility, and what it feels like having a hysterectomy as a woman. I related the most to the later, having just had a hysterectomy.  It was like she captured everything that I could've said about my experience.
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Flesh & Blood // by N. West Moss

My brain is a little jumbled today and I've been struggling to get my thoughts organized into a review. I spent the weekend away but put some time aside to read this book and I am glad I did. I'm a big fan of bringing taboo topics, such as miscarriage, periods, mental health, and more into the spotlight. I've read a couple of memoirs about them before but I do have to say that none of them were quite like this one. It is not as technical as I am used to -- something I personally do enjoy -- but I do feel that this makes this book a lot more accessible to those readers that aren't looking for a memoir that goes into a lot of technical detail. Moss writes about her struggle with growing her family as well as her mental and physical health and how those things affect her relationships. She also puts a lot of thought into the topic of legacy, something many of us equal with children to pass our memories, hopes and dreams onto. This work has an interesting format as well that reminds of essays with its short chapters that make this feel like a quick read while also providing the reader with a lot of optional breaks to reflect as this book can become very emotional. Sprinkled with a little bit of humor, a lot of family memories, and plenty of grace, this book has earned itself a permanent spot on my memoir shelf.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the free copy in exchange for an honest review.
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A memoir in almost an essay format, deals with so many trials Moss has faced. Through miscarriages, ultimate infertility, and a hysterectomy Moss is honest with readers. The entries are often brief but they are all so powerful at bringing life issues front and center.
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This is a gut wrenching memoir of a woman discussing her issues with fertility. When this memoir begins, Moss is taking a course at a college she teaches at. She is bleeding uncontrollably and drives herself to the hospital. She is given a diagnosis that involves having a hysterectomy.

Moss than tells her story interwoven of her fertility issues she has had over the years with her husband and her extra long recovery from this surgery which she does not hide any details.

This is very a very candid account and to be honest very hard to read at times. However, this is such an important book not only about these very common health issues, but about relationships with spouses and in the case mothers.

Thank you NetGalley and Algonquin Books for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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When I received this ARC I was very nervous. I struggle with infertility and it tends to be a rigger for me when reading books especially ones with happy endings.
I loved this book. It was honest and refreshing. I felt comforted and cozy while reading it. I felt like I was having tea with a girlfriend who understood the path I am on, the hurts I face and the perspective I have gained.
I received a physical ARC copy of this read from Algonquin Books. Thank you! All opinions are my own.
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Flesh & Blood by N. West Moss is a poetically-written memoir about the author’s struggles with her own body. Written in vignettes, the book centers on her hysterectomy, the life-threatening medical issues that lead up to it and the circuitous healing process afterwards. The short chapters made the book move quickly. I really liked the author’s delicate writing and spirituality. Though the author is an atheist, she is a keen observer of the world and has a philosopher’s soul. This book reminded me a bit of the memoir, Wintering: The Power of Rest & Retreat In Difficult Times by Katherine May. Moss imparts the importance of taking things at our own pace and appreciating the natural world and embracing patience. Moss’s 80-year old mother comes to help her convalesce following surgery and I adored reading about their relationship and how we as humans tenderly take care of each other. Throughout Flesh & Blood, we learn about the author’s life, from her ancestors and connection to New Orleans to her struggles with infertility and miscarriage. We also meet the author’s adorable husband, Craig; and Claude, a praying mantis who lives in her porch and exudes a stabilizing presence throughout the memoir. I really adored this beautiful book! 

Thank you Algonquin Books and NetGalley for providing this ARC.
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This is a candid, bracing & utterly forthcoming memoir of the author’s experience with infertility, miscarriage, and the hysterectomy required to stop what became nonstop bleeding. Told in small vignettes, the author does an admirable job of balancing the devastating frustration of her body’s struggles with the wonderful way certain relationships - particularly her husband and her mother, who comes to stay with them and care for her - sustain her. These moments of relational connection are the best parts of the book and what kept me turning pages. She also has a clear sense of anticipation for what readers will want - in one chapter, she describes the healing soup her mother makes her so vividly that I thought, “Wow I wish I knew how to make that…”. I turned the page and there was a small chapter with the recipe. I really appreciate the heart that fills this book.

Thank you to Algonquin and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book.
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Flesh and Blood

Reflections on Infertility, Family, and Creating a Bountiful Life: A Memoir

By: N. West Moss

Algonquin Books

Biographies and Memoirs

Publish Date 12 October 2021


50 Book ReviewsProfessional Reader

I would first like to thank both NetGalley and Algonquin books for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.

Good Reads Synopsis:

Kirkus starred review calls it: “A moving, well-rendered portrait of the seriously ailing artist”

Book Review:

I gave this book 4 stars. I read it fairly quickly and was unable to put it down. You feel everything she is going through. I love the stories of her Grandma. The reason she told these stories you don’t learn about until close to end of the book. I felt for her and can relate to some of things she spoke about.

I think this book is much needed. What she talks about is kept pretty hushed because people just don’t want to know. This is important and women don’t need to feel that they are alone in this.

I love the family relationship. I highly recommend reading this book.
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Flesh & Blood is an emotional memoir of a journey through illness, infertility, miscarriage, healing and family. The author's resilience shows through with every written word of this book.
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Hey! Would you like to talk about heavy menstrual flow, hysterectomies, and infertility for a while? Don’t run away. N. West Moss’s story is mounted on the quilted scaffolding of loving family, wise and bold social commentary, and a pleasure to read. 

The tale is told in short, fast-paced chapters which flow from one subject to another. There is no trudging around in the muck. One chapter is about grandma’s calendar, the next is about a felled pine tree, the following about the family history in New Orleans. Moss’s dire condition lends heft and interest to all the descriptions, definitions, and experiences of her tale. At some points, she seems close to dying, but then the story turns to gin and tonics or ducks or poetry. 

Moss’s world is peopled by fine, generous people, from nurturers long gone but fondly remembered, to her husband, parents, and the monks next door. She doesn’t like fuss, so asks her many concerned friends to send her an outline of their hands, and their responses cover her wall, each tailored to give her special solace. How many times have you sent an outline of your hand to a friend in need?  How many times has a person asked for such a thing? Moss lives a creative, original life, and none of her setbacks drown her spirit. They won’t drown yours either.

Every now and again, Moss drops a finely-honed nugget of wisdom: “There is something about me not needing anything that makes people especially generous. It’s the needy people we shy away from…the people who are always reaching toward us who make us lean away,” or “Devout little atheist that I am, I cannot help being moved when [the monk] says, ‘We are praying for you.’ He has memorized the date of my surgery. He will pray. Love is love, and I’ll drink it from a stream or from an old paper cup, I don’t care which.” 

Prepare to love the many colors of life: the paean to a praying mantis, the missing straw hat on a limb, the rare medical condition, the nimbly wise husband, the abiding presence of Grandma Hastings and her mother before her, and the little baby girl that only lived a week. You will join Moss in mourning this little girl who died before the turn of the century. The 20th century.

Under “complaints,” I would list Moss’s authorial decision to switch to the present tense as a method of bringing the reader into the moment. This reader was jarred by the switch. A couple of times the timeline was unclear, but this book exists in Moss’s head and there is a magic to it that transcends time lines. The quibbles are barely worth the time spent to write about them.

Moss’s finesse turns this blood-soaked tale into comedy, or comedia. Life is happy and sad at the same time, or, more accurately, hilarious and heart-breaking. 

A decent book review makes comparisons of the book under consideration with other books, but none came to mind. She is not Malcolm Gladwell or David Sedaris, neither Anais Ninn nor Joan Didion. She is humbly herself, and that is more than enough.

If you want a taste of her style, I recommend Chapter Forty-Five: Going Home.

Oh, and it reads like a thriller, too. Now there’s a phenomenon—a page-turner about menstrual blood, a hysterectomy and infertility.
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A beautifully written emotional honest.raw memoir of dealing with infertility.The author deals with miscarriages constant heavy bleeding at times flowing  down her legs into her shoes while out in public is something many women can relate to.She shares with us her love of her grandma her warm relationship with her husband Craig who as she writes “holds up the edge of the blanket”for here whenever she comes back to bed even in the middle of the night.The weeks her eighty year old mother comes to take care of her after her surgery hopefully to stop the bleeding  are lovely.Even in the midst of sadness the author has moments of humor that put a smile on my face.
This is a book women will read relate  and pass to their girlfriends  to their partners who are living through infertility with them,#flesh&Blood#netgalley
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I really enjoyed this memoir. The beginning, to me, made me think that it was just going to be a lot of medical talk but the memoir turned out to be surprisingly tender and funny. I loved the little vignettes of her grandmother and life in New Orleans. In addition, the walking in the monk's driveway was adorable. N. West Moss is a great writer and this memoir really wove together a medical journey and an emotional one too. I had a personal connection with hemangiomas- which is a benign tumor my son also had, although his was external and hers was internal. I remember the days of wondering what would happen with it and the medication used to alleviate the pressure of it. West Moss' rare account of this type of "birthmark" was intriguing.
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Beautiful and surprisingly funny at times memoir interweaving experiences of hysterectomy, emotions surrounding infertility, family bonds, and the writing life. I especially loved her recollections of her grandma and strongly identified with those sections. Given the heavy subject matter, I appreciated the short chapters. Knocking off a star for odd definitions at the start of many chapters from online dictionaries and even Wikipedia - it felt out of place for a literary memoir.
#FleshBlood #NetGalley
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