In Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood, Rachel Jankovic has some good, wise things to say, and it’s nice to read a book by a young mom, who is, right now, in the thick of caring for multiple little people. This tiny book has eighteen chapters, which means that each chapter is only a few pages long. The chapters are self-contained, which is helpful, I guess, if you only have time to read one, but the book is not particularly organized or unified, other than centering around the theme of “motherhood.” Maybe I would have appreciated the book more in small doses, but I had to rush through it because I borrowed it through interlibrary loan and don’t want to be hit with a steep late fee.
Jankovic’s tone bugs me a bit. Her writing is concise, blunt, and sometimes leaning toward strict or harsh. I’m suppose I’m comparing it to another “mothering” book I am currently reading, Sally Clarkson’s The Lifegiving Home, and Clarkson’s style is so much gentler and more gracious, which I find more encouraging.
This is not a book for everyone. However, if you love reading birth stories, have a large family or are curious about large families and their beliefs and practices, or are an “older” (mid-thirties and up) woman who is interested in having (or continuing to have) babies, then you will probably enjoy this book. The book is written from a religious standpoint, as is obvious from the subtitle: “Ten Ordinary Women Surrender to the Creator and Embrace Life.”
Each chapter in this book is written by a different woman who holds the conviction that God is sovereign over family size. For the most part, the women eschew all forms of birth control and have large families. Each woman shares about her family, including her and her husband’s reasons for allowing God to plan their family size, birth stories, and challenges and blessings that have come their way. Then, at the end of each chapter, each woman gives her answers for the same set of survey questions that was given to all of the book’s contributors.
I appreciate that the survey questions do not shy away from hard ethical issues, such as the increased risk of miscarriage and birth defects that older mothers face. I was encouraged by the strong faith and wisdom of each of the women in this book. The tone of the book is not preachy or prescriptive; it’s more “this is why we do what we do and how it has worked out for us.”
The last two chapters of the book are full of practical advice about optimal nutrition for fertility and help for preventing and correcting physical challenges that some women experience during and after pregnancy.