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4.5 stars rounded to 5 starsI rarely read memoirs, but this one called to me The Fixed Stars is a very frank and absorbing account of Ms Wizenberg’s painful yet steadfast journey to find herself at the age of 37.After ten years of marriage to her best friend and father (Brandon) of her only child (June), Molly is awakened by a very unexpected draw towards a lesbian attorney while serving jury duty Over the next year, Molly and Brandon try valiantly to make things work within new parameters Unfortunately for Brandon, he is at a disadvantage as Molly, for the most part, has put aside her dreams in order to help Brandon achieve his and isthan ready to change course I was really impressed with Molly She puts her heart and soul, sweat and tears into discovering who she is, what her goals are and how to achieve them She takes Brandon to therapy and tries everything in her power to see if they can do this together and makes sure Brandon is as okay as possible throughout her trek to explore her own needs I especially liked how she made sure her small daughter understands the basics of what is happening and remains an essentially welladjusted kid Molly is willing to open herself up to many people during her journey and just lays it all out there How many of us can do that? She deeply researched her issues and includes many excellent references in a bibliography at the back of the book.Molly’s story is intimate, brave and inspiring She is also an author by trade, and her writing style is excellent Though it is nonfiction, it reads easily as if it were a novel And for other avid readers similar to me who like to be educated while reading for pleasure, there is opportunity to learn much about gender fluidity I highly recommend this memoir to all interested in reading about a fascinating journey in selfdiscovery and also those who want to learnabout gender identity Beautiful job, Ms Wizenberg!I’d like to thank Net Galley, Abrams Press, and Ms Molly Wizenberg for an ARC of this book Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. I’d have to do some serious math to remember when I started reading Orangette, @molly.wizenberg’s blog, but a dozen years? I definitely read her memoir A Homemade Life while living in Harlem (2009) as I have vivid memories of reading it in my corner laundromat and I remember reading an ARC of Delancey at Sit and Wonder the very month that I got married This preamble is just to say that I’ve been invested in her storytelling for a while I was so excited to read her latest memoir which is, in broad strokes, a departure from her previous works which centered around food That said, Wizenberg is always circling the self, family, friends, loved ones—everyone with whom you share a drink or meal Her voice is so warm that the reader always feels like a confidant Rather than provide much in the way of plot summary, I’ll just say that at age 36, married for many years and a mother for several years, Wizenberg found that her sexual orientation had shifted This awareness was the first of many shifts that lead to a thorough reevaluation of her history and what she thought of as her self When I first learned that Wizenberg had gone through this experience (which I read about on her blog; I miss it still), I thought to myself, “Thank goodness Maggie Nelson wrote THE ARGONAUTS so that Molly could read it!” And now I can say thank goodness Molly wrote THE FIXED STARS which is a rigorous and passionate investigation into the real marrow of how we know ourselves and how we weather the inevitable changes of our lives Changes in desire, in identity, in companionship, needs (small and expansive) This book was an avid reminder to me that conversation is vital to the health of any relationship and that we don’t make mistakes as long as we are clear about our needs—even when we’re not entirely sure what they are The talking will help us get there, together If you see me, I’m sure we’ll be talking about this. You know how when someone you sort of know has a really unexpected breakup, and you desperately want to ask them for all the details but that would be rude?This book is like if that person showed up on your doorstep with a LARGE bottle of whiskey and proceeded to tell you exactly what went down. It was hard for me to connect with the writing It felt like she was listing fact after a fact, quote after a quote, without actually diving in and exploring the specific problem she was talking about The best parts of the book are when she's talking about her girlfriend The only time that a relationship has any kind of emotional investment, feels real and alive As a queer person what I disliked the most about the book was the way she was describing queer people Like she was watching and studying from a safe distance these odd, rare species she once saw in the wild She doesn't act like this is an actual community She doesn't act like a person who is being a part of this community.This needed sometime to become an actual memoir Right now it feels like one very long therapy session. ( DOWNLOAD BOOK ) ♿ The Fixed Stars ♷ From a bestselling memoirist, a thoughtful and provocative story of changing identity, complex sexuality, and enduring family relationships   At age , while serving on a jury, author Molly Wizenberg found herself drawn to a female attorney she hardly knew Married to a man for nearly a decade and mother to a toddler, Wizenberg tried to return to her life as she knew it, but something inside her had changed irredeemably Instead, she would discover that the trajectory of our lives is rarely as smooth or as logical as we’d like to believe   Like many of us, Wizenberg had long understood sexual orientation as a stable part of ourselves: we’re “born this way” Suddenly she realized that her story was complicated Who was she, she wondered, if something at her very core could change so radically? The Fixed Stars is a taut, electrifying memoir exploring timely and timeless questions about desire, identity, and the limits and possibilities of family In honest and searing prose, Wizenberg forges a new path: through the murk of separation and divorce, coming out to family and friends, learning to coparent a young child, and realizing a new vision of love The result is a frank and moving story about letting go of rigid definitions and ideals that no longer fit, and learning instead who we really are   By contrast with her other two memoirs (especially A Homemade Life, one of my favorite books), this was an uncomfortable read For one thing, it unpicks the fairy tale of what looked like a pretty ideal marriage and entrepreneurial partnership in Delancey In the summer of 2015, Wizenberg was summoned for jury duty and found herself fascinated by one of the defense attorneys, a woman named Nora who wore a man’s suit and a butch haircut The author had always considered herself straight, had never been attracted to a woman before, but this crush wouldn’t go away She and her husband Brandon tried an open marriage so that she could date Nora and he could see other people, too, but it didn’t work out Brandon didn’t want her to fall in love with anyone else, but that was just what was happening.Wizenberg announced her comingout and her separation from Brandon on her blog, so I was aware of all this for the last few years and via Instagram followed what came next So I knew that her new spouse is a nonbinary person named Ash Choi who was born female but had top surgery to remove their breasts (At first I was assumed Nora was an alias for Ash, but they are actually different characters After things broke down with Nora, a mutual friend set her up with Ash.) The other source of discomfort for me here was the explicit descriptions of her lovemaking with Nora – her initiation into lesbian sex – though she draws a veil over this with Ash.I’m not sure if the intimate details were strictly necessary, but I reminded myself that a memoir is a person’s impressions of what they’ve done and what has happened to them, molded into a meaningful shape Wizenberg clearly felt a need to dig for the why of her transformation, and her answers range from her early knowledge of homosexuality (an uncle who died of AIDS) to her frustrations about her life with Brandon (theirs really was a happy enough marriage, and a markedly amicable divorce, but had its niggles, like any partnership).I appreciated that, ultimately, Wizenberg leaves her experience unlabeled She acknowledges that hers is a messy story, but an honest one While she entertains several possibilities – Was she a closeted lesbian all along? Or was she bisexual? Can sexual orientation change? – she finds out that sexual fluidity is common in women, and that all queer families are unique An obvious comparison is with Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, which is a bitprofound and original But the mourning for her marriage and the anguish over what she was doing to her daughter are strong elements alongside the examination of sexuality The overarching metaphor of star maps is effective and reminded me of Constellations by Sinéad Gleeson.There were points in the narrative where I was afraid the author would resort to pat answers about what was ‘meant to be’ or to depicting villains versus heroic actions, but instead she treats this all just as something that happened and that all involved coped with as best they could, hopefully making something better in the end It’s sensitively told and, while inevitably different from her other work and perhaps a bit troubling for some, well worth reading for anyone who’s been surprised where life has led.Originally published on my blog, Bookish Beck. The Fixed Stars is about a woman struggling with her identity and sexual orientation She is married and has a child but realizes something in her has changed I found it hard to connect with the writing, and it was a little boring at times I felt there were some unnecessary details about her marriage and the restaurant so I did skim towards the middle to the end of it I probably am not the target audience for this book 2.5 rating overall.Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the advanced copy! On the one hand, I think Molly's story is very relatable, a woman who after marriage and a child realizes she is attracted to other women and can't just let it go I think this happens to a lot of people, and it's nice to have a narrative to find resonance in On the other hand, I did not think the writing was that spectacular (there are some beautifully written moments all where she is quoting other people like Maggie Nelson or Cheryl Strayed or Alison Bechdel,) the narrator (herself) is impossibly naive about queer culture to the extent that her first forays into new relationships are excruciatingly painful (she spends a lot of time reading about open marriage but no time about the topic that mattersto her?), and there are these weird moments where she declares her privilege in the middle of talking about something else (it's important to recognize privilege, but I actually suspect the reason her divorce was so easy had nothing to do with privilege and everything to do with neither party really being into it.) So it depends on why you want to read the book One of these days, I will actually get to the first of her memoirs, which I've had on Kindle for years A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table. You and a friend that you haven’t seen in a while get together to discuss how life has changed since you last saw each other You listen intently to her story, unable to break from her words You listen to your friend confess her most personal discretions, confuse her sexual orientation, change her identity, shatter her marriage, challenge the restrictions of love and attempt to keep her daughter neutral and aloof.You do nothing but listen.This was how my day seemed to unfold reading cover to cover of The Fixed Stars It was mesmerizing, absorbing and thoughtful It needed a bottle of wine. While perusing goodreads reviews of this book before I started it, I found a review that compared this book to a friend showing up to your house with a bottle of whisky, ready to spill all the dirt on how and why her marriage ended And in a way, I completely agree Molly writes in a way that is totally candid, and feels as though I'm listening to my best friend fill me in on her life and her emotions It felt deeply personal and raw and trusting Molly held nothing back, not the good, not the bad, and definitely not the ugly And for that I appreciated her But at the same time, that review of the book does it a disservice, because this was so muchthan a steamy tell all brimming with salacious and gossipy details It was an exploration of gender and sex and sexuality and how we express these things and what they mean, and how they differ from person to person It was filled with snippets from writers who have written about these topics and from scientists who have studied it, And it opened up my eyes to the fluidity of feminine sexuality and how, regardless of how you categorize yourself, it is a deeply personal endeavor and there are no wrong answers.