four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
28-May-June-2007
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0

A Tale of Two Continents, Three Religions, Five Infertility Doctors, an Oscar®, an Atomic Bomb, a Romantic Night and One Woman’s Quest to Become a Mother

A-Waiting for DaisyMarried at 30, writer Peggy Orenstein was in no hurry to start a family. She wasn’t even sure she wanted one until her father-in-law passed away and her husband, suddenly confronted with his own mortality, urged her to reconsider. Waiting for Daisy chronicles the six-year odyssey that led Orenstein through the perils and pitfalls of infertility treatment. She endured breast cancer, three miscarriages, a failed adoption, and a faltering marriage as her initial ambivalence turned to obsession. Happily, Orenstein’s wait for her daughter Daisy ended on July 23, 2003. Acutely aware that the ending might have been different, Orenstein looks back on the perpetual cycle of manic hope and crushing disappointment faced by infertile couples today.
Bloomsbury. 240 pages. $23.95. ISBN: 1596910178

Seattle Post-Intelligencer 4.5 of 5 Stars
"So remarkable is Orenstein’s account that it seems likely to become the platinum standard for memoirs regarding couples struggling to become parents. … Orenstein has an uncanny ability to re-create the suspense of her quest, even though the book’s title does give away that there is indeed a child named Daisy at its conclusion." John Marshall

Los Angeles Times 4 of 5 Stars
"It’s no small feat to write a page turner that gives away the ending on the dust jacket, but Waiting for Daisy is more than just the Perils of Peggy. Orenstein has written a memoir, a confession, a polemic and a love story all at once, describing the most frantic and confusing period of her life with clarity and candor." Janice P. Nimura

Oakland Tribune 4 of 5 Stars
"The Berkeley author bears her soul in Waiting for Daisy, opening old wounds and giving readers a frank look into her personal, at times heart-wrenching journey to motherhood." Ann Tatko-Peterson

People Weekly 4 of 5 Stars
"This may be the most honest book written about the tsunami of emotion that hits women when what should come most naturally—reproduction—becomes instead one vast, expensive science experiment, and one more likely to fail than not. Orenstein—whose obsession with getting pregnant (after breast cancer and the loss of an ovary, no less) almost derails her career, her marriage and her sanity—is terrific at exploring the struggle of the intellect and the heart." Judith Newman

San Francisco Chronicle 4 of 5 Stars
"Orenstein’s chronicle of her baby obsession is both quirkily her own and in tune with the moment. … As the subtitle implies, the book is a roller-coaster ride." Heidi Benson

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"In spite of her book’s histrionic subtitle—you can almost hear the agent or editor whispering in her ear, ‘More! Worse! Farther! Bigger!’—she treats her efforts to become a mother with intelligent skepticism and a brazen sense of humor (a quality not often found in Repro Lit)." Anne Glusker

Entertainment Weekly 3 of 5 Stars
"Orenstein renders her experience in beautiful prose, but there isn’t much to differentiate it from all the other fertility memoirs glutting the market." Tina Jordan

Critical Summary

It was Peggy Orenstein’s husband, documentary filmmaker Steven Okazaki, who encouraged her to write Waiting for Daisy—on one condition: she had to be brutally honest. "I couldn’t let myself off the hook or make myself look better than I was or make it all OK," she admits. Reviewers praised Orenstein’s willingness to put her life, in all its awkward moments and embarrassing details, under the microscope. Her self-deprecating humor and lively prose balance the anguish she describes with such stark sincerity. Though Entertainment Weekly found Waiting for Daisy just another addition to the recent deluge of "Repro Lit" (Washington Post), most reviewers considered it a heartbreaking and surprisingly suspenseful account of the lengths to which people will go.