Laura Jean Baker, author of The Motherhood Affidavits
With the birth of her first child, soon-to-be professor Laura Jean Baker finds herself electrified by oxytocin, the "love hormone"--the first effective antidote to her lifelong depression. Over the next eight years, her "oxy" cravings, and her family, only grow--to the dismay of her husband, Ryan, a freelance public defender. As her reckless baby-making threatens her family's middle-class existence, Baker identifies more and more with Ryan's legal clients, often drug-addled fellow citizens of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Is she any less desperate for her next fix?
Baker is in an impossible bind: The same drive that sustains her endangers her family; the cure is also the disease. She explores this all-too-human paradox by threading her story through those of her local counterparts who've run afoul of the law--like Rob McNally, the lovable junkie who keeps resurfacing in Ryan's life. As Baker vividly reports on their alleged crimes--theft, kidnapping, opioid abuse, and even murder--she unerringly conjures tenderness for the accused, yet increasingly questions her own innocence.
Baker's ruthless self-interrogation makes this her personal affidavit--her sworn statement, made for public record if not a court of law. With a wrenching ending that compels us to ask whether Baker has fallen from maternal grace, this is an extraordinary addition to the literature of motherhood.
Laura Jean Baker teaches at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, specializing in memoir, women's stories, crime narratives, and literature for children. She earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan, where she was a Colby Fellow. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, War, Literature, and the Arts: An International Journal of the Humanities, and Calyx, among others, and she has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her essay "The Year of the Tiger" was named a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2013. She lives in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
"Laura Jean Baker has written a beautiful and brave memoir of motherhood and its discontents, which are indistinguishable from its joys. This is a warmly intimate yet intellectually provocative personal document of originality and considerable charm." --Joyce Carol Oates
“In a work that veers from confessional to cautionary tale to small-town crime blotter, Baker offers a harrowing account of her childbearing years at the center of the Midwestern methamphetamine crisis. . . . The author writes with an imaginative, studied complexity . . . [in a memoir] which readers may find themselves unable to put down or soon forget.” --Kirkus Reviews
“The Motherhood Affidavits is the most compelling and original memoir I’ve read in years. In her profound exploration of marriage, parenthood, baby-lust, and crime, Laura Jean Baker takes a compassionate yet unsentimental look at the ways in which the poor and unlucky are driven to act in ways that might seem unforgivable . . . until we realize how close we, too, have come to committing the same horrifying mistakes.” --Eileen Pollack
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