• Jaime

Women's Work: a Reckoning Between Work and Home by Megan K. Stack

When Megan Stack left her prestigious job as a foreign correspondent to have a baby and work from her home in Beijing writing a book, she quickly realized that childcare and housework would consume the time she needed to write. This dilemma was resolved in the manner of many upper class families and large corporations: she availed herself of cheap Chinese labor. The housekeeper Stack hired was a migrant from the countryside, a mother who had left her daughter in a precarious situation to earn desperately needed cash in the capital. As Stack's family grew, a series of Chinese and Indian women cooked, cleaned and babysat in her home and she grew increasingly aware of the brutal realities of their lives: domestic abuse, alcoholism, unplanned pregnancies, medical and family crises. Hiring poor women had given Stack the ability to work while raising her children--but what ethical compromise had she made?

Spoiler alert: I was not a fan. I loved the premise of Women’s Work which is why I asked to read an early advance copy. Thank you, Doubleday Books for the free book.

Usually what I look for in a #memoir is to learn something. I also usually love when a memoir is reflective and candid. I felt as if I learned nothing while reading this one. The construction of the novel was pretty straightforward. The author divides the novel between three sections: Part I (How to Disappear), Part II (Passage to India) and Part III (The Women).

The beginning started off so strong. The #author focused on her pregnancy and making the tradition from working journalist to mother. I love that she highlighted her struggles with postpartum and making the transition back to being a writer and juggling her new role as a mom. I loved the first part. I really admired her for being so candid in her experiences as a first time mom. Part II is where the author starts to lose me. It's as if she expects to be on equal footing with her husband who resumed work. Her husband was uninvolved in what went on at home regarding Megan and the women who helped raised their children. In short, there was some feminist issues in this novel yet the author fails to discuss or acknowledge history or facts. There is no feminist analysis or thoughts. Instead, the novel is based on her day-to-day experiences. That is why this novel is lacking in execution to me when compared to the premise. At Part III, the author turns her journalistic eye toward the women who have helped raise her children. In the author interviews, she stops herself and fails to dig really deep which was disappointing.

There was one thing I did appreciate about this novel and that's the author's frankness. She does not let herself off the hook. She does not ty’all to protect herself from critiques. This still didn't redeem the novel for me though.

My overall thoughts on it? I think the premise really hyped up my expectation of the content of the novel. I was left disappointed and wanted more historical context and more from the women who helped raise her kids.

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