Crossing the Moon is a memoir--at once witty and wistful--in which the author recounts her initial ambivalence about motherhood, the pain and frustration of following a course of treatment for infertility, and ultimately the birth of a new self, a writer comfortable at last with her family of two. It also touches a wide array of other issues.
Paulette Bates Alden grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, where--for the female of the species--virginity, decorum, and becoming a mother were prized above all else. Bates Alden chose a different route, one that included premarital sex with a campus politico, a Volkswagen camper, and a fiction seminar with Tillie Olsen, who taught her to "stay the course. Sit at your desk, and write." Bates Alden became a writer and eventually married, but "from the very start, I had seen writing and motherhood as mutually exclusive." It wasn't until she turned 39 that the alarm on her biological clock went off. Crossing the Moon is the story of Bates Alden's uncertainty about having children, her struggle with infertility once she decided she wanted them desperately, and how her commitment to a life of writing weaves through it all. "Did I really want to be a mother," Bates Alden asks herself, "or did I really just want to conform to society's expectations for me?" This is a compelling tale about how each choice we make (or that is made for us) necessarily involves a sacrifice as well. "There were so many ways to be a woman, wife, mother, writer," says Bates Alden. "I had had to relinquish some things in order to get others." Bates Alden does come out the other side of these tribulations. We can only hope that we all arrive, like she has, at "a place where what is best is simply what is." --Jane Steinberg