Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Book Review: Savvy Auntie June 16, 2011

Melanie Notkin created the Savvy Auntie website as a gathering place for childless and childfree women who play an important role in the lives of other people’s children. It’s a big shout out to those of us who share our time with nieces or nephews, or are “aunties-by-choice” to the children of friends and family. Now she’s written a book by the same name.

In Savvy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers, and All Women Who Love Kids, Notkin quickly dispels the myth that women without children are lonely, bitter, and don’t like kids. She refers to herself as a PANK – “Professional Aunt, No Kids,” and says, “I don’t have kids, but I’ve got five amazing nieces and nephews by relation, a beautiful goddaughter, a fabulous career, amazing friends, I travel a ton, and I always go to the best restaurants in the city.” Far from bitter and lonely!

Notkin keeps this fun-loving tone throughout the book, with silly tidbits, such as how to say “Aunt” in 28 different languages, how to throw a killer 1st birthday party, and her Auntiescopes, which define auntie types by birth sign (and are dead accurate – at least for Aries Aunts!) But Notkin balances this with practical information and useful advice about taking care of other people’s children, finding age-appropriate gifts, and answering those awkward questions kids often ask their aunties. She even discusses how to deal with other people’s good news when you’re still dealing with your own grief and also offers some comebacks for those prying questions people ask about why we don’t have kids of our own.

Savvy Auntie is a book I wish I’d given when I was 15, when my first nephew was born, but it still makes for a fun read 20-something years later.


Book Review: The Barrenness by Sonja Lewis June 2, 2011

Filed under: Childfree by Choice,Fun Stuff — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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In her debut novel, Sonja Lewis tackles a subject that rarely makes it into fiction: the decision to have children or not.

In The Barrenness, Lewis tells the story of Lil, a successful Porsche-driving executive, in fictional Riverview, Georgia. When the childless aunt who raised her dies, Lil returns to the tiny rural town where she grew up, to take care of her aunt’s final wishes. There she becomes embroiled in a bitter battle with her late aunt’s stepson, over who should rightfully inherit the house where Lil grew up, but in which the stepson now lives.

As this story unfolds, Lil is faced with her own ticking clock as she acknowledges her aunt’s sadness at never having children of her own. Lil has always expected to have children, but as she nears 40, she realizes it’s now or never. The problem is that the one man who holds any possibility – the delicious Danny Hatcher – has a teenage stepdaughter and no desire for more children. Now Lil must decide where her priorities lie, and if motherhood is something she is willing to fight for.

The Barrenness mixes family drama with romping romance, all with the undercurrent of Lil’s desire for motherhood and the decision she must soon make. Lewis’s talent lies in her vivid portrayal of life in The South and the rich characters she brings to life, from Aunt Mamie with her no nonsense lilting drawl to the villain, Will, and his nasty street talk. Lewis turns the spotlight on the pressure many women feel to squeeze through the window of fertility before it closes for good.