A High-Risk Memoir
by Aileen Weintraub
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 01 Mar 2022 | Archive Date 28 Feb 2022
Aileen Weintraub has been running away from commitment her entire life, hopping from one job and one relationship to the next. When her father suddenly dies, she flees her Jewish Brooklyn community for the wilds of the country, where she unexpectedly falls in love with a man who knows a lot about produce, tractors, and how to take a person down in one jiu-jitsu move. Within months of saying “I do” she’s pregnant, life is on track, and then wham! Her doctor slaps a high-risk label on her uterus and sends her to bed for five months.
As her husband’s bucolic (and possibly haunted) farmhouse begins to collapse and her marriage starts to do the same, Weintraub finally confronts her grief for her father while fighting for the survival of her unborn baby. In her precarious situation, will she stay or will she once again run away from it all?
Knocked Down is an emotionally charged, laugh-out-loud roller-coaster ride of survival and growth. It is a story about marriage, motherhood, and the risks we take.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 6 members
Another gem of a book from the University of Nebraska Press! When I started reading this memoir I didn't realize that it would mostly be an accounting of the author's time spent confined to bed. I was more interested in her family background. I got both a realistic and personal accounting of her Jewish family and a more humorous accounting of the beginning of her married life as she was confined to bed for an incompetent cervix, halfway through her pregnancy. Taking umbrage at the very term "incompetent cervix" Weintraub traces her pregnancy week by week as the couple struggles with country life, a newly bought business and a house that betrays them at every term.
Yet, it is engaging and funny and I simply couldn't put it down until I got to the end... at 1 AM. Really well done and I certainly hope a sequel is coming!
The description of Aileen Weintraub’s Knocked Down: A High-Risk Memoir (University of Nebraska Press, 2022) pulled me in immediately. A new marriage, high-risk pregnancy spent on bedrest, a potentially haunted house (what???), what’s not to like? I’m a sucker for a memoir, so I hit request on NetGalley and the book landed softly on my kindle a few days later. Many thanks to NetGalley, University of Nebraska Press, and Aileen Weintraub for allowing me to read and review an early copy of this book.
Aileen Weintraub lacks follow-through. From quitting Brownies in grade school to quitting jobs and relationships as an adult, she’s never been able to fully commit to much of anything. But once she meets Chris, all bets are off. Moving to her new husband’s creaky country house whose basement support beams turn out to be an old car (no, really!), her life takes a turn she wasn’t quite expecting when her much-wanted pregnancy is labeled high-risk, thanks to some monster uterine fibroids she wasn’t even aware she had, and Aileen is sentenced to full-time bedrest.
You’d think lying around all day would be easy, but it turns out to be one of the greatest challenges of Aileen’s life. Unable to cook, clean, do anything around the house (including preparing for the baby), work, or help her husband out with the new business they just purchased (one of THREE jobs for him), she’s left feeling helpless, useless, and alone (three jobs make for incredibly long work days, and in an area where Aileen doesn’t know many people, this means spending most every day completely alone). Their marriage frays under the strain, and throughout this challenge, Aileen delves into the grief she’s still processing from her father’s death. This open and deeply honest memoir explores the difficulties of a pregnancy with unexpected challenges, and the toll it takes on everyone around it.
So many of the other reviews I read for this book consider Knocked Down funny, but I didn’t necessarily experience it this way (though there are funny parts!). To me, this book was more raw and intensely emotional, along with being deeply honest. Aileen Weintraub isn’t afraid of painting herself in a way that isn’t always flattering but that display the frustrations and hardships of being confined to bed for months at a time. None of the pregnancy books I’ve read discuss the strain that bedrest causes on a marriage, and I very much appreciated her illustrating the guilt she felt, mixed with the occasional bouts of irrationality caused by being so isolated and stressed.
With a husband working twelve-to-fourteen-hour days and a dire financial situation (basically, anything that can break or go wrong does during her pregnancy), Aileen is thrust into a situation she can’t truly run from, and along the way, she processes her grief from her father’s passing and the lessons she learned from him- how not to act, why she shouldn’t give up, and what their relationship meant. These bittersweet recollections give the memoir depth and showcase Ms. Weintraub’s ultimate growth throughout a deeply challenging situation.
Knocked Down is a raw, emotionally honest memoir, fraught with the complications of a tough pregnancy and a marriage that can barely withhold the strain, but which is ultimately triumphant in nature, and hopeful. Ms. Weintraub’s genuine voice isn’t afraid to tell a difficult, painful story of doing the work necessary not only to survive, but to learn from those who went before us and to move beyond the mistakes they made in order to cling to what truly matters. More than just being about pregnancy and grief, Knocked Down is about true growth.
A complex but also sharply funny look at motherhood, marriage and family building. Courageous but generous and also of interest to a wide group of readers.
Aileen manages to find humor in the middle of a very difficult and stressful situation. I loved the memories of her dad. This is a beautiful story with tons of heart and a swirl of emotions that the author makes relatable. I'll be thinking about this one and recommending it to friends and family. Thank you for the early read! I look forward to the author's next book!