Motherhood by Sheila Heti


From the author of How Should a Person Be? (“one of the most talked-about books of the year”—Time Magazine) and the New York Times Bestseller Women in Clothes comes a daring novel about whether to have children.In Motherhood, Sheila Heti asks what is gained and what is lost when a woman becomes a mother, treating the most consequential decision of early adulthood with the candor, originality, and humor that have won Heti international accla...

Details Motherhood

Release DateJun 7th, 2018
PublisherHarvill Secker
GenreFiction, Feminism, Parenting, Contemporary

Reviews Motherhood

  • Jenna
    First, the context that I am a big fan of “plotless fiction” as well as autobiographical fiction a la Ben Lerner – so this combined with my particular stage of life makes me the ideal reader for this book.I could not stop reading it once I started. I feel like the conversation that Sheila is having with herself and the characters in this novel is a conversation that no one else is having and it's a book that many young women need, even thou...
  • Portal in the Pages
  • Leo Robertson
    LOVED this one!A hilarious, poignant and honest account of one woman's dithering over what might be the most important decision of her life—but hang on, why HER life and not HIS? Why important, even? And so on, encapsulating an encyclopaedic collection of questions and considerations on the theme of becoming a mother.It's so funny because I'd assumed these were stupid questions, or questions that surely must be posited and answered in some body...
  • Rebecca Foster
    Should one have children? No matter who’s asking the question or in what context, you’re going to get the whole gamut of replies, as proven by this recent Literary Hub survey of authors. Should I have children? Turn the question personal and, even if it’s actually rhetorical, you’ll still get an opinion from every quarter. As The Decision looms over her, the narrator of Sheila Heti’s new novel, a 37-year-old writer from Toronto, isn’t...
  • Liina Bachmann
    To have or not to have children - “The Mother of All Decisions”, as the New York Times review by Elaine Blair stated. Sheila Heti takes 284 pages to autopsy it (through a nameless narrator) in regards to where she stands as time is running out. “I am in the afternoon of my life. The time for children is breakfast,” she says. It becomes clear quite early on that she has actually made up her mind already - she prefers her creative freedom a...
  • Lorrea - WhatChaReadin'?
    As women, it's our one job to reproduce, but is it? Some women can't wait to be mothers, others want to wait for the right time. Some women can't have children, and some women don't want children. This book examines one woman's journey through one of the biggest decisions women make between the ages of 20-40(the childbearing years). To have a baby or not to have a baby, that is the question. Thank you to Henry Holt and NetGalley for the opportuni...
  • Gretchen
    I decided I had had enough of this self-absorbed, wheel-spinning First World Problems book when the author said she felt jealous of gay men (why gay men only I don't know) for getting the experience of coming out, because it means they knew what they wanted and had occasion to let the rest of the world know. The preceding 130 pages were similarly lacking in perspective and empathy, which hollowed out so much of the truly interesting concerns that...
  • Michelle Hart
    "There is a kind of sadness at not wanting the things that give so many other people their life's meaning. There can be sadness at not living out a more universal story--the supposed life cycle--how out of one life cycle another cycle is supposed to come. But when out of your life, no new cycle comes, what does that feel like? It feels like nothing. Yet there is a bit of a let-down feeling when the great things that happen in the lives of others-...
  • Tao
    My blurb for Sheila Heti's novel:"I deeply enjoyed Sheila Heti's fractal, meticulous, and twinklingly self-aware book—in which every part seemed to know, and be informed by, every other part—about art and time and change and books and babies. Motherhood synergistically functions both as an intimate, moving, autobiographical novel and as a practical, mysterious, five-year tool used by its protagonist to help her contemplate and answer central ...
  • Krista
    Whether I want a kid is a secret I keep from myself – it is the greatest secret I keep from myself. Motherhood is billed as a novel but reads like a diary; recording all of the uncertainty and changes of heart of Sheila Heti's unnamed narrator (like Heti herself, a Toronto-based writer approaching forty) as she tries to figure out if she wants to give birth before her unwinding biological clock renders the decision-making process moot. Being of...
  • Gregory Baird
    Warning: if you are not into novels as therapy, this is not the book for you. If authorial gimmicks are not your thing, this is not the book for you.Motherhood is 300 pages of highly performative therapy as a writer agonizes over whether or not to have children. Is this writer a stand-in for Sheila Heti herself? I confess I don't care enough to look into the matter. Certainly, Heti has an avant-garde approach to novel-writing. How Should a Perso...
  • Katherine
    I'll add more later, but I wanted to get a short review out now: I liked this book, and I thought it was a low blow that the reviewer for the New Yorker concluded by calling Heti "childish." (Especially after leading with the fact that she's ten years younger.) What does that word even mean? Is it childish to take oneself seriously?I bring this up partly because I'm genuinely curious about what it is about Sheila Heti that pushes people's buttons...
  • Corinne Keener
    The book itself is readable. I personally relate to the central question of whether or not to become a mother and that's what initially interested me in it. However, it often felt that her explorations were completely reductive of women in general. I also question whether this book is even a novel. It's almost completely without a plot or characters, there is essentially no development.It just did not work for me.
  • Vivek Tejuja
    It took me a while to get into “Motherhood” by Sheila Heti. I was under the impression that this one would also be an easy read, just like, “How Should A Person Be?”, however, I was mistaken. “Motherhood” also because of the content and obviously the writing style (which is mostly meta in my opinion), makes it a little of a tough read. If you are prepared to battle through the first couple of pages, you are in for a treat.“Motherhoo...
  • Heath
    Though I really could have done without that part where the narrator rhapsodizes about how she wishes that she was gay, so that she could announce publicly to everyone who she is. Made me want to announce to the narrator just how I wish I had a book deal, so I could announce just how I am.
  • Molly
    this year I’ve encountered mores misses than hits. There’s no doubt Heti is a talented writer but I found this painful as it dragged on. I feel like it could have been a long form New Yorker piece instead? I do wonder if I didn’t connect because I am not personally conflicted with the central question of whether to be a mother but I am interested in how the pressure of being a mother or not being one affect women in our current culture. Als...
  • Monica
    I really wanted to love this book but instead I found it totally self-indulgent.
  • ✨Tamara
    Wow... just wow!The narrator of this book is in a state of continuous oscillation over the decision to have a child or not. She consults her friends, her family, her lover, even different forms of divination to try to make her decision one way or the other.Oh my gods!!! Every once in a great while a book like this comes along... a book that makes me so irritated that I just can't seem to put it down. I was constantly yelling at this book and the ...
  • Isobel
    As she nears the end of her fertile years, The narrator wonders whether or not she should have a child. Consulting flipped coins, everyone she meets and her own family history, she thinks about what it means to be a mother or not, and what it means to be a woman who resists this primal calling. I think this is a fantastic book. Bizarrely, given how important it is, this is a subject rarely written about, and as the narrator points out, those wome...
  • Stephanie
    Thanks to Henry Holt for sending me a review copy!Some of you will hate this book. What's the big deal? If you want a kid, have a kid; if not, not. Even if these are questions you're asking, it might seem cloying and repetitive. There's very little plot here, just philosophical wondering, which might strike you as meandering and self-absorbed.Some of you will love this book. You'll see yourselves in these pages, in the narrator's journey, shiver ...
  • Jaci Millette Cooper
    Fuck this was good. Actual review forthcoming.Actual Review:Heti’s brilliant, insightful, and overdue novel, which I gather has some autobiographical roots, articulates an internal struggle of my own so eloquently: whether or not the life-transforming experience of motherhood is for me. Heti understands the competing forces of the human experience- at least to the degree that I believe that I do: should I have a life full of art, adventure, spo...
  • Julene
    I couldn't finish this; maybe it's me? I'm burned out on tales of women who miss New York, don't want to breed, and constantly battle a low level dislike of their partners.
  • Sarah
    This one gutted me, turned me inside out and upside down and then righted me again. It's a brutal read, so honest and vulnerable and there were so many times when I felt the author in my BRAIN. I have never read a book about the choice of becoming a mother that ran so close to my own thoughts, at the same time it was wildly different from my own experience; I bookmarked dozens of passages and returned to them over and over. I set it down for days...
  • Sara Watson
    Heiti so thoroughly articulates the ruminations of a modern, feminist 30-something woman torn between social and biological expectations and the constant doubting of her own will and desire to become a mother or not. I’ve asked myself so many of these same questions. I’m tempted to dump all those resonating quotes here.The voice is strange at times, asking questions as if writing in a diary dialog and leaving answers to the oracular coin toss...
  • Daniel
    Superbe. Un livre tout en points d’interrogation sur la maternité et l’humanité, aussi rationnel et terre à terre que subliminal et ésotérique. Heti y poursuit sa réflexion, entamée dans How Should a Person Be?, sur nos raisons d’être et les excuses qu’on s’invente pour les contourner ou rentrer dedans aveuglément.
  • Vel Veeter
    I have been providing quotations from the books I am reading as the headline for each of my reviews. Same here. One conceit in the novel is that probing questions about choices involving having a child or not are answered in the style i Ching of flipping a coin yes/no. So this is a quotation. It’s also my review.No thank you.I should have known going in, but as the narrator suggests “I thought the book was a trick, but it tricked me” or som...
  • flannery
    Why is this book so g.d. serious, it is not funny, not even once. I can't even have kids and I have a really good sense of humor about it!
  • Rachel Glaser
    I loved the exchanges between the narrator and the all-knowing voice of the flipped coins! Those sections and that spirit were by far my favorite element of the book, and as my boyfriend realized during his read--would be a great writing exercise for his memoir class. Heti explores some brilliant, revolutionary, and important ideas in this book, side by side with the vivid details of everyday life. Though some parts were a bit repetitive, much of...
  • Bud Smith
    Real good.
  • Lily Patchett
    ahhh sheila heti's writings are so wonderful for me. a human (specifically a woman?) interrogating all thoughts and feelings, listening to others but not necessarily yielding to them, trying always to understand and figure out what to do with her understanding. i get worried sometimes that her work is too much concerned with truisms, but she's so funny, and what is true is very unclear anyway - in fact, that's kind of what this work is about, so ...