Wednesday, July 30, 2014

book review: Nine Months by Paula Bomer

The basics: Nine Months is the story of Brooklyn wife and mom of two Sonia, who finds herself unintentionally and unhappily pregnant with number three. With frustration mounting, Sonia takes off on a cross-country trip alone--and does so many things pregnant women aren't supposed to do.

My thoughts: I've been saving Nine Months to read until I was very, very pregnant. I'm so glad I did because it was fun to live vicariously through Sonia. I'm happily pregnant, of course, but I also really dislike being pregnant. The thought of being pregnant again--ever--terrifies me. I can relate to Sonia's feeling of helplessness, but as real as it is, this novel is also escapist fun. It's fantasy that's firmly planted in reality:
""You’re pregnant. You’re doing a great job. I know it’s hard.” “You don’t know how hard it is. And I’m not doing a ‘great job.’ I haven’t done anything, except fuck you. This is happening to me, don’t you understand? I have nothing to do with it. It’s taking over me. It’s taking over my body and my soul, for God’s sake, like some parasite, like some alien virus.” Tears come to her eyes."
Through her marriage and her children, Sonia has lost something of herself. She's been looking forward to having her youngest in school so she can (finally) return to her art. Another child would hinder those plans; it would also mean their already cramped Brooklyn two-bedroom apartment would become impossible to live in.

There's a rawness and an honesty to both Sonia and Bomer's writing that I loved: "Not for the first time, she hates the fact that she is raising her kids in New York, where people treat their children like a combination between a science and an art project." This novel is wickedly funny in a way that isn't necessarily socially acceptable. It's dark and comical, but it's also firmly grounded in reality:
"The baby’s mouth roots around like a baby bird, unable to grasp on. So Sonia squeezes her nipple and colostrum comes out and the infant’s lips touch the pre-milk milk and then, it works—the baby tries to suck. First slowly, and then, as if something in her wired-for-survival brain clicks, she ferociously latches on to Sonia’s nipple and sucks on her like that’s what she’s been put on this earth to do. Which is, in fact, true. Her daughter is here to suck the life out of her, and leave her for the spent, middle-aged woman she soon will be."
The situations Sonia encounters are real, and perhaps her actions are too. For me? I wouldn't have the guts to act as recklessly as she does.

Favorite passage:  "And as much as she feared being a minority in Kensington, she fears even more being literally stranded among people who are supposedly just like her. She’s never felt that anyone was just like her, regardless of skin color or money—it’s just not a dream she could ever buy into. It doesn’t ring any bell for her."

The verdict: I adored Nine Months as much for Sonia's illicit adventures as I did for Bomer's writing. It's a brave novel, and the combination of literary escape and social commentary is a winning one.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Length: 265 pages
Publication date: August 21, 2012
Source: library

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Nine Months from Amazon (Kindle edition.)

Want more? Visit Paula Bomer's website.

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!


  1. It sounds like a very interesting book for moms.
    All the best for you in those most difficult weeks of pregnancy! One book that I would recommend you to read before your baby is born is "The happiest baby on the block" by Harvey Karp. If you want to see the ideas of that book in action you can watch a DVD with the same title. I saw that DVD at my birthing class and it helped me a lot with my first baby. I didn't use much of those techniques with my baby #2, because that baby didn't need them. However, you never know the personality of your child before he finally arrives. The book applies to newborn (up to ~3months), that's why I would recommend to read it before the baby is born.

  2. Literary escape AND social commentary is BLISS. It doesn't happen nearly as often.


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