New Year’s Resolutions For A Highly-Motivated Twin Mom


When it comes to resolutions, we all fall into one of three camps. There are those who look at the new year as a chance to evaluate how their life is going, identify what they want changed, and formalize their resolutions on paper (or screen). So what if they failed in the past? That’s no reason to quit trying.

There are those who forego resolutions because they know they’re going to give up in two weeks anyway. They view written goals as personal ammo that’s going to come back to mock them later.

And there are those who have their lives so perfectly orchestrated that they don’t need goals. Everyone else hates these people.

Disregarding the last group (because I hate them too), there are those two chunks of philosophies infiltrating pretty much everyone’s thoughts to some degree or another this time of year. And while I’m tempted to fall into the second group (which is ever-growing with converts from last year’s failed resolutions), I can’t seem to give myself permission to.

Experts say that resolutions should meet each of the following criteria:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timed

So, without further ado, my 2016 Resolutions, also known as the Dream Sheet, Register of Unrealistic Hopes, and Things My 26-Year-Old Self Will Thank Me For.

1. Eat two full meals a day (coffee doesn’t count as a meal; smoothies might if they incorporate kale or oatmeal)

2. Work out once a month

3. Shower twice a week (bonus points for actually blow-drying hair afterward)

4. Read all recently-purchased books before purchasing more

5. Consider actually cutting the twins’ fingernails occasionally, before they put one of their eyes (or one of my boobs) out of commission permanently

6. Write (AND MAIL) thank-you cards for all baby gifts that were given to me since… last August

7. Sweep all floors biannually

8. Purchase stock in coffee

9. Find a source for pure caffeine and spike Manny’s peanut butter

10. Set regular office hours for freelance work, starting with 10 minutes a day twice a month. No exceptions.

11. Sleep a minimum of 3 hours each day. On days when this is impossible, make up the difference within the two following

I hope you’re inspired. I know I am.

Crunch. Crunch.

This year, I spent Christmas Eve baking homemade bread, wearing Davey in his Moby wrap, and browsing cloth diaper sites. While my dough was proofing, I started hearing something. And it wasn’t the sound of footsteps through snow–not this year. But it sounded similar. It was the music of a subculture that I’m just getting to know.

Like every other millennial, I’ve always hated the idea that I might be normal. But I didn’t think I’d end up in a weird off-the-beaten-track hipster category along with millions of my peers.

Last summer I intended to write a post about knitting. I had just finished a pair of socks I wanted to show off. If I had written the post, it would have certainly said something about how knitted socks are better than cheesecake, oversized hoodies, and flavored coffee combined.Screenshot 2015-12-28 11.34.25

Before I had the twins, I fell prey to the cloth diaper addiction. It’s a thing. Cloth diaper collecting is not unlike collecting handbags, high-end candles, or essential oils, but it’s arguably more useful and economical. It makes me different (except for the other tens of thousands of moms who also decided it’s a great idea and brought it back into vogue). It saves me money (for now), makes more sense to me, and keeps my babies’ bums comfortable (who wants to wear paper underwear?).Screenshot 2015-12-28 11.33.41

I also discovered that I can’t really get through a day without wearing my babies–at this point, it’s usually in their Moby wrap, though I’ve decided I need a soft structured carrier like a Tula. And possibly a few ring slings, for good measure. Babywearing makes it possible to cook, clean, do laundry, and even write my articles while holding a sleeping baby (they almost inevitably fall asleep when they’re wrapped). Which means that babywearing enables me to keep more of my sanity than I would otherwise.

Screenshot 2015-12-28 11.39.20

Last summer Manny and I bought a farm share and drove thirty minutes once a week to pick fruit and veggies and collect our massive box of fresh, locally grown organic goods. It just made sense. We also drive another twenty minutes out of the way to a local dairy/ice cream shop to get a couple of gallons of raw milk every week and a half or two weeks.Screenshot 2015-12-28 11.34.00

Once, shortly after the twins were born, we ran out of raw milk and didn’t feel like driving all the way to Amherst to collect some. Crisis. So we bought organic homogenized milk from the store. It was disgusting. Seriously, after getting spoiled on the super-creamy, fresh raw milk from Cook Farm, neither Manny nor I could stomach the storebought stuff. We ended up throwing it out.

For all the trouble I went to during adolescence to try to avoid labels, I’ve stumbled into a big one without even realizing it. It turns out that my particular combination of “logical” choices identifies me as a Crunchy Mom.

What does that even mean? Urban Dictionary has a helpful entry. There are even quizzes you can take to determine your level of crunchiness. Apparently I’m only somewhat crunchy because I’m not politically liberal, I like to travel by car, and most of my decisions have nothing to do with greenhouse gases or landfills.

Somehow I’ve fallen into the new trendy subculturey group of cloth diapering, baby wearing, homebirthing, raw-milk-drinking, crop-share-buying, knitting, intactivist, who-knows-what-else mothers. They call us Crunchy. The fact that I practically live in Birkenstocks (with handknitted socks in cold weather) adds bonus points in my favor. In fact, the only thing going against my crunchy status is my unrelenting love of frozen pizzas and my fairly conservative worldview, which I’m sure most hard core crunchy moms would frown upon.

All I need is a set of these bumper stickers to finalize my admission to the Crunchy club. And here I thought I was avoiding labels.

The struggle is real.

I don’t have time to do this at all. So I’m doing it right now.

My best friend in college had a habit of getting herself in over her head–or at least, signing up for more than seemed humanly possible. This irked me because (1) it was stressful to watch her running around like crazy trying to do everything, (2) because she made it look easy to do the impossible, and I felt pathetic in comparison, and (3) because I wanted to do things with her in my free time but it seemed she rarely had any free time.

“Do you have anything going on Saturday?” I’d ask.

“Oh, I have about seventeen hours of voice, guitar, and piano practice, two papers to write, and homework for eight classes,” she’d say. “But since there’s no way I’ll get it done anyway, we might as well go on a hike.”

It seemed so illogical and fatalistic at the time. You don’t have time to do it all, so you’re just giving up? She’d set those tasks all aside temporarily to do something else every now and then because otherwise, she’d NEVER do anything else, and she knew it. She wasn’t just giving up.

“If I had time to get it done, that would be one thing. But it’ll never be done, it can’t be done, there’s no hope. Let’s go.” That’s not a quote, but the sentiment is the same.

So we went.

She knew that if she always did the “important things” first, the important things would never really get done.

I didn’t understand then, but I totally get it now. That’s kind of why I’m writing this blog post. I don’t have time to write it any more than my friend had time to spend her Saturday doing a ten-mile hike in the mountains.

I have diaper laundry to stuff, fold, and put away. I have articles to write, and now would be the ideal time to write them. I have books to read, gifts to wrap, gifts to make, and to top that off, suddenly it’s three in the morning and I’m realizing that if I want to get anything done tomorrow, I must sleep now. In three hours, the sun will start coming up, and I have to capitalize on all the daylight hours I can during this bleak time of year when the days only last ten hours to begin with. Later, I’ll wonder why I wasted this hour.

I don’t have time to do anything but what has to be done, but if I only do what really must be done I’ll never catch up, and I might never end up living.

An accurate description of twin life.

You know how sometimes in life, everything seems to be going incredibly well and then it all falls apart so thoroughly it’s almost (but not quite) laughable? Your car breaks down, you lock yourself out of the house, you get bacon grease on your favorite pair of jeans (or realize that your favorite pair of jeans isn’t fitting nearly as well as it used to), and the barista at Starbucks butchers the drink that was supposed to make it all seem better. Nine Weeks

It’s all smooth sailing, and then you hit a tropical typhoon.

Life is a walk in the park, and then the sidewalk craters and the only way around is through a muddy, mosquito-filled bog.

That is currently my life, except it happens multiple times a day on a much smaller scale. I’ll be baking homemade bread in the kitchen with a content baby sleeping in his Moby wrap on my chest and another sound asleep in the living room. This twin thing isn’t so bad, I think. I feel like supermom, I think.

And then the twin strapped to my chest spits up down the front of my shirt. At the exact same time, his brother explosively poops out of his diaper. Both start screaming at once at just the moment when the bread needs to be shaped into loaves to go into the oven before it starts to rise again. And I realize that I desperately have to pee.

In each moment, it’s hard to believe that the other moments exist. When I’m supermom, it feels like I’m always supermom. When I’m covered in baby vomit and trying to soothe two infants at once, it feels like… I’ve been stressed and covered in baby vomit for nine weeks.

That is my life. It’s beautiful and often very, very messy.

 

A Story of Small, Squishy People: My Breech Twin Homebirth

Davey and Micah

This is probably the longest post you’ll ever read on this blog, but I don’t want to cut anything. Feel free to skim.

During my pregnancy and in the few days after, I didn’t really want to share my birth story on a public forum. But I realized that reading stories like this (and these) played a large role in giving me the confidence I needed to make the decisions I made about my boys’ birth. I’d love to be that kind of encouragement to others if I can.

So here is my story, and if it serves to empower even one woman to take charge of her own pregnancy rather than living through it in fear or undergoing countless unnecessary procedures, it was worth getting out of my comfort zone to share. The point of this post is not to defend my decisions. I’ll just say that women should (must!) take the responsibility to educate themselves about what is best for their babies, then make the decisions they feel comfortable with, as I did.

My first pregnancy ended in stillbirth. Two months later, much to our surprise and right in the middle of moving from Guam to New England, my husband and I discovered I was pregnant again. Two months after that, I went in for an ultrasound based on my midwife’s suspicions. Almost immediately we saw two little sacs and two little heads, and everything changed a little.

Twins Ultrasound

I had been planning a home birth from the beginning, and finding out I was expecting twins didn’t change that.

I’m the kind of person who reads everything under the sun on a topic when faced with a decision. I’m also the kind of person who tends to believe that the less we mess with nature and our bodies, the better. I had read the studies and statistics that showed that hospital births weren’t necessarily safer; in fact, that they could be more traumatic for both mothers and their babies. I had read story after story of women who were forced or bullied into completely non-evidence-based procedures that were not only unnecessary, but harmful. 

I already had a foundational conviction that “high risk” by standard obstetrical terms isn’t always risky at all. I believed that twins are a variation of normal and that there is no reason to plan for a C-section at worst or an epidural, operating-room delivery, and early induction at best, both of which are standard protocol for twin delivery in most U.S. hospitals.

When I found out I was expecting twins, I emailed Glenda, my midwife. “How do you feel about delivering twins?” Glenda is amazing. She sent me this video:

She contacted another midwife in the area, introduced me to her assistants, and we put together a team and an action plan. There were no rules, no deadlines or timelines; Glenda was there to support me. “At what point would you feel comfortable delivering them?” I remember asking, thinking that she’d want my twin pregnancy to be as textbook as possible in order to deliver at home. “When would you feel comfortable delivering at home?” she asked.

Many of Glenda’s responses prompted me to do more research and soul-searching of my own. When would I feel comfortable having the babies at home? What if they came early? How would I know when it was time to transfer to the hospital—if that even became necessary? I couldn’t make those decisions at 12, 16, 25, or even 30 weeks. I knew I had to be okay with a hospital transfer if it became necessary. I also knew that my decision shouldn’t be based on an arbitrary number or textbook protocol. According to the textbooks, I should be in a hospital operating room anyway. Because twins. But I had done enough research to know that the textbooks and standard protocols are often wrong, and Lord willing, my pregnancy was going to defy them.

The entire pregnancy was terrifying and beautiful. Despite my determination to enjoy every minute, I convinced myself that something tragic would happen again. I delighted in every wiggle and despaired whenever an hour would go by that I didn’t feel movement.

Around 25 weeks, I was about the same size I had been at 37 weeks the first time around. I was enormously pregnant. Everything hurt. And suddenly I couldn’t imagine feeling normal ever again.

30 Weeks With Twins

Manny put up with colossal mood swings. I wanted to go on a hike, wanted to explore a Renaissance Faire with my husband, wanted to stretch my muscles and have my body back to myself again, but my body wouldn’t let me. I even wanted to go for a jog. I hate running. But I would have paid money to feel like I *could* jog without falling flat on my face (or belly). That’s what every long day and every short week of my twin pregnancy felt like. Lots of sleep, but little real rest.

My blood pressure was high. There were leukocytes in my urine. Blood tests showed elevated white blood cells but nothing else abnormal, and because there were no signs of infection my midwife attributed the unusual numbers to twin pregnancy and told me to take garlic and echinacea, get all the rest I felt like I needed, watch carefully for any new developments, and go on with life. So I did.

So. Many. Braxton-Hicks. Around 30 weeks, I was thoroughly sick of being pregnant, and they became annoying. Every time I stood up, one would wrap around me—not painful, but powerful enough to make me want to stand still long enough for it to pass. It wasn’t unusual to have 4-6 an hour when I was up and active. They went away as soon as I’d sit down, though, so I started resting more and doing less. It wasn’t bed rest—it was more like self-imposed naps throughout the day, and they were heavenly. Thankfully, I didn’t ever have much trouble sleeping. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have coped with life well at all.

I started losing my mucus plug the last week in September. On October 1st, my husband and I were watching television and I timed 9 painless contractions in an hour. I was 34 weeks along. The combination made me think things were going to start happening, but… it was too early. It must just be another example of a twin pregnancy being more intense, I thought, though I knew that more than 4 or 5 contractions in an hour was reason to be suspicious. There’s no way I’ll go into labor this early, I thought. It’s just a fluke because I had been up so much that day, cleaning, cooking, and canning apple butter. I had an appointment with Glenda and my other midwife, Tammy, the next morning, so I shrugged it off and went to bed.

At my appointment, I told Glenda what had been happening, and again we discussed the prospect of going into labor earlier than expected. It was Friday, and I was 34 weeks, 6 days along, according to the ultrasound date. If I had been going by my own dates, of which I was certain, I’d be 34 weeks even. I still couldn’t decide about an absolute cutoff for hospital transfer, so we decided to play it by ear. Surely I wouldn’t go into labor that weekend. After that weekend, I’d be solidly in the 35 week range anyway, which had been something of an unstated goal all along.

Glenda’s perspective was that early babies needed extra care for sure, but that usually the best place to get that care was right on their mother’s chest—NOT in a hospital, where they would be whisked away and placed in an incubator. So I determined that as long as their heart tones remained strong, as long as I was healthy and confident in my decision, we would all stay at home.

I woke up from an afternoon nap around 4:30, spent ten minutes trying to get up off the sofa, and felt a huge gush of water the minute I managed to stand up. An hour later, the contractions were strong enough that I didn’t want to talk through them. Manny and my midwife’s assistant/doula, Tashina, worked magic to get the birthing pool set up and filled so quickly (thought it felt like an eternity at the time), and I could tell it wouldn’t be long before my first baby was going to be born by the time I stepped in.
Warm water has never felt so good.

Everything that happened after I stepped in the pool, I remember as a series of snapshots. Each one is crystal-clear, but they seem totally separate from one another, like I was present in hundreds of individual moments, and that time wrapped around them like a totally separated thing.

I remember someone saying that he was breech, and thinking kind of absently that he was supposed to be head-down.

I remember thinking that an epidural would be very nice.

I remember thinking that second babies were supposed to be easier than this.

Then his entire body was out except his head (Manny looks back on this part with horror).

T12072802_921097498141_4921615055306034193_nhere was an overwhelming sense of relief and I just wanted to be finished, to hold him, but it seemed like another contraction would never come to help me out. I’m not sure how long we stayed like this. It could have been two minutes or twenty; it was probably five or six. Tammy said, “Steff, next time you feel a contraction at all, you need to push as hard as you can. We need to get him out.” She was so calm.

“I don’t think I can,” I said.

“Well, I think you need to.”

There was no arguing with that. I evicted David with the next contraction. He needed several rescue breaths to get started breathing on his own; I remember asking if he was okay, thinking that he was remarkably tiny, feeling a little concern but also an overwhelming sense of peace and even more overwhelmingly, relief at the break in labor.

In fact, I think I was so happy to *not* be delivering a child anymore that my labor stalled out somewhat of my own volition. I could go for awhile without repeating that process, thank you very much—and my body obliged. An hour and a half later, I forced myself out of the tub to use the restroom. Walking made the contractions start up again (that had been the goal); I had to stop twice in the ten steps it took to make it to the bathroom and two or so more times on the way back.

Newborn Twin By the time I got back to the tub, I was determined. I was getting back in the water, and I talked myself into getting that second baby out. There was no way around it; Baby B had to come, and sooner was better than later. “You can come out now, little one,” I remember saying to him as I leaned on the side of the tub between contractions. “We’re ready for you.” Two hours and forty minutes after David was born, Micah came into the world, also breech, one hand up by his head.

Davey was tiny—so tiny that it was almost scary to hold him at first. He weighed just over 5 lb when he was born, and Micah weighed 6 lb. They each lost about 8 oz. in the days following their birth. It should be noted that they both had incredible amounts of very fluffy hair from the beginning.

Because Micah, the second one to be born, was a pound larger than his brother, he was more challenging to get out, and it’s his fault that I needed stitches afterwards (something I won’t soon forget and might remind him of when he’s old enough to be embarrassed about it). The fact that they were both breech threw a wrench into our plans, too. We had been so sure that at least one was head-down.

I feel like this is the point in the story where I’m expected to talk about how beautiful the whole thing was, and how it was such a special healing birth after Miriam, and how magical/ethereal/fulfilling it was to hold those babies for the first time. And I guess it was, in a way. But the truth is, it was messy. It hurt (go figure). I handled labor well, but everything happened so fast—and I think a part of me had so completely expected something to go wrong—that I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it and fully realize that I’m not pregnant anymore. I still wake up sometimes, see a baby snuggled beside me in bed because he won’t sleep anywhere but up against my chest, and think, ooh, a baby. Where did you come from, little one? And I still wish their sister were here to meet them.

Now, looking back, I’m surprised at some of the decisions I made—like not going to the hospital even though they were only 34 weeks old, or not getting more monitoring during the pregnancy itself.

I’ve always thought it was a little ridiculous when women talk about how they just trusted their intuition and knew things about their bodies and their babies. The truth is, I didn’t know that things would be okay, but for some reason I still had peace with the decisions I made. 12243484_10156224913015274_6911222073545422424_n

I am a believer in Christ. I trusted God with my pregnancy and had put it into His hands multiple times. But I also recognized from losing my first baby that trusting Him with everything doesn’t guarantee that it will be okay by my terms. Trusting Him doesn’t make life perfect, though in sunshiny seasons it’s tempting to think of it that way.

I trusted Him with Miriam and I lost her. I trusted Him with these babies and still wondered what would go wrong. He was (and is) still good. I doubted my decisions but prayerfully stuck with them, because they seemed like the best choices I could make. And I’m so thankful for every single decision that seems improbable or even unwise in hindsight. If I were in the same spot again, part of me would like to say that I’d do things differently—be more cautious, maybe—but I’m so thankful that everything happened exactly as it did.

And I’m very thankful to be through with pregnancy (and labor) for awhile.

Walking in the Woods

A Walk in the Woods CoverIf you have any outdoorsy spark within you at all, then certain books are bound to elevate that spark to genuine obsession. A Walk in the Woods did that for me in July.

The stupid book made me want to drop everything, buy a backpack, and go hit the ~2,800-mile-long-trail posthaste. Nevermind the fact that I’m 26 weeks pregnant with twins, and walking a single mile feels like a feat of superhuman strength and stamina.

Reading Bryson’s account of through-hiking the trail reminded me of hiking in and around the Blue Ridge Mountains with my best friend in college–spending Saturdays in the woods, far enough from classrooms and homework that they couldn’t quite touch us, logging mile after mile and then dragging ourselves to Panera afterwards for soup and sandwiches.

Anyway, the whole reading-and-reminiscing thing sparked a conversation with the hubster, who started an AT through hike with a friend several years ago. Sadly, they couldn’t finish because said friend injured his ankle. The hubster’s dream lives on, and mine remains on my bucket list–the same place it’s been for the past four or five years.

Knowing that about 90 miles of the Appalachian Trail runs through western Massachusetts, we decided to look up volunteer opportunities at the trail conservancy in this area. A few days later, Manny informed me that he had signed both of us up to help rebuild a bog bridge on a section of trail an hour and a half away by car + 1/2 mile by foot.

I protested on the basis of exhaustion and general aches and pains. I told him he might end up carrying me back up the trail. And then I went with him anyway.

We met a few scruffy-looking men who could have been 45 or 80. Apparently one was a ridge runner whose full-time job is hiking the AT from one end of Mass. to another to keep an eye on the trail, rumors of bears, fallen trees, and the like. They handed us some wood to carry down the trail, and down we went.

The weather was perfect–mid 70’s, breezy, clear sunshine and cotton candy clouds. I think I waddled the half-mile to the bog bridge and back half a dozen times over the course of the day, alternately carrying a piece of wood, a box of nails, or a hammer.

Appalachian Trail in MassachusettsI will note that the aches in my back and hips and the fatigue of walking, even while carrying lumber and tools, pretty much disappeared as long as I was out there walking in the woods (they all came back in full force later, sadly).

The hubster and I were also elected to walk another mile up the trail in the opposite direction to post a “Beware of Bear” sign near a shelter where a bear had decided to rob some unfortunate hiker of his entire food bag the week before. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of the fuzzy fellow, but no such luck.

But back to the book. If you don’t want to come away from A Walk in the Woods with a compulsion to, well, go for a walk in the woods, probably don’t pick it up in the first place–even though they are making it into a movie next year.

The book itself is hilariously uncouth, captures an incredibly relatable ambivalent love-hate relationship with the trail, and is laugh-out-loud funny. I spewed the tea I was drinking dangerously close to the pages more than once because a particularly entertaining line caught me off-guard. Because of this, I’m calling it the Funny Book on my 2015 Reading List.

Because the spark of obsession was lit, I followed that read with Hiking Through, another AT book, this one from Manny’s section of the home library. It’s an autobiographical account of a former Mennonite hiking the trail after losing his wife to cancer. I respect this guy more than Bryson, but he’s not a writer, and his attempts at both poetry and humor fell rather flat. Still, it was worth the few hours it took to read it. I’m thinking these might lead to a whole series of AT-related reading.

I guess this is all to say that if one day in the not-so-distant future, you read here that the hubster and I are quitting life to take two kids and a dog on a six-month-long walk in the woods, you shouldn’t be terribly surprised.

Go Set a Watchman won’t ever be a classic, but I love it anyway.

Go Set a Watchman Cover

I’m just going to be the odd man out that defends this book as totally worth reading.

Fact: Go Set a Watchman was never intended to be a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird. Watchman was written first, and Lee’s publisher suggested that the back story would be a more viable read.

Fact: The Atticus of Watchman is not the same as the Atticus of To Kill a Mockingbird. You could say he changed (for the worse?) with age and time, but it makes more sense to acknowledge that Watchman Atticus wasn’t the same man at all. He’s a rewrite, a different story, based on the assumption that Watchman would never be published.

Fact: The plot isn’t primarily about race, and if you start reading it thinking it’s all about race, it’ll infuriate you. Though race is a key element, the plot (and yes, I will argue there is indeed a plot, though many reviewers have rather vehemently said otherwise) is about Scout returning home after years on her own and dealing with the suffocating feeling that she never really knew the people she loved and trusted.

Fact: For some reason, I couldn’t put this book down. I read it through in one day.

I know that many readers who read Watchman walked away disappointed (inevitable for a sequel) and disgusted (inevitable in light of an honorable protagonist who looks at segregation as anything but clear-cut). In it, Atticus–a character we’ve long loved and respected–plays down the KKK and holds some fairly segregationalist views.

But this is a different Atticus. And though today’s America tends to make everything all about race and injustice, the story isn’t about race or injustice. It’s about a little girl who idolizes her father and thinks at least somewhat highly of most residents of her hometown. And when she returns as an adult, it all looks heartbreakingly different.

You can argue that’s not enough of a plot to spin a novel, and Lee’s publisher would have agreed–at least the first time around. That’s why we have Mockingbird. But novels have been spun on far less.

For what it’s worth, I loved seeing the way Lee made the story evolve. It’s a look into an author’s mind. What would we find if we could go back and read the stories Dickens discarded? We might not see the same Dickens we’ve been studying for years, but there might be a controversial gem in there somewhere that gives insight into the way a great writer thought.

And that’s what Watchman is–a controversial, insight-giving gem. Of course, most people don’t pick up a novel for its academic insight. And on its own, Watchman would never have been a bestseller. If it had been published in 1960, it would have faded into oblivion by now. As a standalone novel, it’s in dire need of a good editor. It will never attain classic status in the mainstream literary canon.

But Watchman strays from contemporary norms and controversies and deals instead with the struggle of moral betrayal and growing up as a very real, heartbreaking issue. Today’s audience sees those issues as worthy only of an eye-roll or addendum, not a novel. Watchman looks at race relations as a complex issue, with insight that goes deeper than the oversimplified everyone-was-just-unenlightened attitude we tend to cop about the South today.

We’d do well to look past the controversy (and our own assumptions) and into the human truth of this story.

This one is going to fall firmly into the 2015 reading list category as “Book with Bad Reviews,” but I certainly don’t regret the few hours I spent on it.