Childless Mother

Non-Fiction - Memoir
284 Pages
Reviewed on 12/07/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Lorraine Cobcroft for Readers' Favorite

At age 15, Tracy Mayo became a mother. But she was a Childless Mother, one of hundreds of thousands all over the world who, before a 1973 landmark legal decision, Roe v Wade, were compelled to endure months of pain and shame and then surrender their child for adoption. They were ordered to simply forget. Adoption was best for the child. Going on with life as though it never happened was best for the shamed teenage mother and her embarrassed family. Except Tracy Mayo could never forget. The umbilical cord was cut, but the invisible thread that permanently connects mother to child was never broken. Childless Mother is the moving story of a young girl’s journey through pregnancy, childbirth, twenty-three years of yearning, the search for the son she was forced to surrender, the reunion, and, finally, being a mother with a son.

Mayo's word pictures are vivid. She paints scenes in brilliant technicolor. Her characters leap off the page to become people we know intimately. We don’t just read about Tracy’s life. We live it. We become that girl. By the middle of the story, the reader has experienced the shame and fear of teenage pregnancy, the agony of birth and cruel separation, the struggle to maintain the facade, and the emptiness of a failed attempt to go on with life as though it never happened. And then we join Tracy in her quest to find the adult son from whom she was never able to disconnect. Tracy Mayo’s memoir, Childless Mother, is the memoir thousands of girls might have written; the story thousands of girls lived. It is a lesson in motherly love and in the wisdom of dismissing the fear of disapproval or social exclusion. It is also a lesson in compassion, forgiveness, and understanding the origins of the complex web of fear and desire that drive our choices. It takes us on an emotional roller coaster, but one that reaches a deeply satisfying resolution. It left me celebrating one woman’s victory and grieving for the thousands whose stories did not end well. It left me celebrating today's more enlightened world in which girls can make informed choices about birth control and abortion and can access financial and social aid should they wish to keep their child. Childless Mother is just a fantastic read with beautiful writing from Tracy Mayo.