Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Book Review: Family Size by Maria Hoagland
Author: Maria Hoagland
Enjoyment Rating: ***
This book would be rated: PG
Wards in the church, especially those outside of Utah, tend to become not just a place for people to worship together, but the hub of social life for many LDS people. In fact, it's a sign of a close ward when people say that their ward members are "just like family." But just like you might not tell your mother or sister every bit of your personal life, especially when it comes to your reproductive plans, you might keep things like that from your ward members, too. However, in our "more kids is better" culture, people often assume things about ward members based on how many kids they have, and how quickly they started having them. In Family Size, the women of childbearing age in a ward in Lubbock, Texas are not that different from women in many of the wards I've lived in. There are some who have kids every eighteen months, like clockwork, others who stop after a couple, and still others who seem to be putting off their family in favor of nice things and travel. And everyone is worried that others are judging them for their choices, which results in the women keeping some things secret that they really might feel better if they got off their chests.
The book, told from the point of view of several women in the ward, shows not just the women's struggles to raise up good families, but also their struggles with identity, competitiveness, and with provincial attitudes. While I enjoyed the women's individual stories, what is more memorable for me is the critique of our culture that is implicit in the pages.