By Melissa Amster
Imagine being told that you are six months pregnant, after having exposed yourself to X-rays and CAT scans, as well as consumed alcoholic beverages over the past six months during which you didn't know about the pregnancy. For some women, this is a reality. One such woman wrote a memoir about her situation and everything that happened after she found out. This woman is Alice Eve Cohen.
In "What I Thought I Knew," Ms. Cohen writes about the six months leading up to her "diagnosis," during which she thought she had cancer or some other life threatening disease. Her OB/GYN even missed the pregnancy. It wasn't until a CAT scan on the day before Rosh Hashanah that she found out she was carrying a six month old fetus in her misshaped uterus. This was after being told she was infertile, due to a drug her mother took when she was in utero. Being told that she is a high risk pregnancy, her life plays out like a Michael Moore documentary (think "Sicko") as she tries to find a doctor who will help her and also accept the most unpopular insurance plan. I do not want to spoil what happens as a result of her situation, so I will leave things as they are and let you read the rest.
Throughout the book, Ms. Cohen makes lists of the things she does know. The lists help her organize her thoughts about her pregnancy and everything that happens throughout her story. She brings up Judaism a lot, as it is her religion, and tries to tie it into her situation, as well.
I really liked this memoir. I couldn't put it down (other than when I absolutely had to) and felt so absorbed in her story that I would think about it when I wasn't reading it. I appreciated her candid honesty and the way she tried to add humor to help keep her readers at ease. As I was reading, I'd even e-mail her to tell her about something I could relate to and ask her questions about why things were a certain way. I even suggested this for a local Jewish women's book club [I recently joined] to read. However, this book is not just for women or Jewish people. I think everyone should read it at some point in their lives. One would think that women who are expecting their own babies should not read it, but I would have to argue against that. I am currently expecting and this did not scare me about what's to come. I know that each situation is unique and was able to understand and appreciate Ms. Cohen's thoughts and feelings throughout the memoir.
To reiterate, I highly recommend this memoir and I hope everyone will take the time to check it out. It's a quick read and very easy to follow along the entire time. By the end, I felt like I really knew Ms. Cohen and her family the way I know my closest friends. I look forward to reading other memoirs by Ms. Cohen, as I heard she is working on another one.
Come back on Monday to learn more about Alice Eve Cohen and for a chance to win your own copy of "What I Thought I Knew."