Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book Review: Rattled and Pacifi(her) by Hogan Hilling

If you follow my Twitter feed you are already familiar with these books and what I'm going to have to say about them.  I hate to do it guys, I really do.  Giving bad reviews, especially in a case where I requested the book, isn't fun.  That said, there is nothing nice to say about these two books, other than that the covers are cute.

Here's the thing, Reader Friends.  I wanted to like these books so bad.  The covers are cute and I thought it would be realy great to read a book from a man's point of view about what my husband may think and feel when I get pregnant (nope, still not happening yet, but for future reference).  I thought the idea was fantastic, the chapter titles seemed really thoughtful and appropriate ("I May Struggle To Bond With Our Unborn Baby" and "I'd Like You To Acknowledge Me As An Equal Partner").  So I started these books with high hopes.  I really tried to ignore the crazy in them.  I looked them up to make sure they weren't written in the 1950's.  I checked out the publisher to make sure I wasn't reading something published by an incredibly conservative Christian press.  But nope, released in 2011 by a secular press.  So there is really no excuse I can think of (PS: I am absolutely accepting of conservative Christian groups, including "fudies", and I totally accept those beliefs on submission in marriage, etc, even if it's not my own personal belief - so I would have had more tolerance for this book had it come from an ideological standpoint as opposed to a scientific standpoint.) 

Anyway, here's where the author totally lost me: "During pregnancy, a woman suffers from PMS, and her mood swings increase" (Pacifi(her), pg. 56).  Nope.  No that actually is not the case at all.  Women do not suffer from PMS during pregnancy.  Those are kind of mutually exclusive situations.  So I was totally thrown off by the fact that the author just tosses that out there and then expects me to think he knows anything about pregnancy.  Also, how was that not caught by an editor?  Have ANY women read this book before publication?

But we aren't just dealing with scientific, factual inaccuracy in these books.  Take the opening of Pacif(her) for example: "When a wife asks her husband to conceive a baby, almost every husband is willing to become a dad and help his wife fulfill her lifelong dream: to be a mom."  I'll just let that sink in for a minute.  Go back and reread if you need to.  I sure did.  Most couples I know both wanted to be parents - not just the wife begging her husband for a baby.  And every woman's lifelong dream?  No.  I didn't even think about marriage until college and it wasn't until I was a nanny that I knew I wanted kids at all.  So that kind of rubbed me the wrong way.

From that point on, both books pretty much cover the same themes: women rarely have jobs, they spend lots of money and have no concept of budgeting, they are slaves to their hormones, and did I mention all they want is to be wives and mothers?  Because no woman is actually fulfilled by a profession and really, very few women work outside of the home anyway right?  Men, on the other hand, can't show their feelings because their dads might call them sissies, only reluctantly become fathers at their wife's request, and are the primary "breadwinners" of the family - even if they don't work.  

Again, were this an ideological standpoint, particularly if it were faith based and coming from a religious press, I would give it a lot more leeway.  But coming from a secular press and intended as modern-day advice, the books are just ludicrous.  And it's not just the "women are from mars" thing that the author has going on - there are several other moments in the book that just didn't make sense to me and, honestly, made me laugh (the suggestion that expecting dads take their single male friends to the hospital to tour the labor and delivery ward was one).  I can't in good faith recommend anyone read these books.  They are incredibly out of touch culturally and scientifically.  Your time is much better spent on the classics: Taking Charge of Your Fertility and What To Expect Before You're Expecting.  And if any of you know of any good books about pregnancy from a father's point of view, I'm still looking for one! 


  1. I know you hated writing it, but this was a really good review! Thank you so much for your honesty throughout. Would you be okay with me quoting you? It would probably only be a few lines. Please?

  2. Thanks for such an honest review! I can't believe the inaccuracy of the PMS thing. That alone would make me question the contents of the book.

    I must admit that the image of an expectant father taking his single male friend on a tour of L&D is quite humorous.

  3. You were so much nicer than I would have been ;)

    Shaun read (and mostly liked) Pregnancy Sucks (for Men) which, like the books you read have a "girl version" called Pregnancy Sucks. Maybe give those a go? They aren't great but they are, without a doubt, better than this!

  4. I was witness to your twitter feed. This review (which was well written (and a bit too nice), as well as the direct quotes from the book sort of make me want to buy a copy and then set it on fire. You know that I am no book burner!

    Outside of those petty thoughts, I did read a few books about pregnancy that I reviewed in Goodreads last year. I can't access goodreads from work, but if you can see my profile, check my "Year 2010" shelf. There was a decent one by a man, about raising his family and I talked about why it did or didn't bother me. It was a worthwhile read, I think. As usual, don't take all baby information as gospel!

  5. I am still in shock over these books, even after our conversations. I really truly am just blown away.

  6. To be fair, the titles were cute, too. Not just the covers.

    You were definitely too nice :)

    I think Luke should write a book, once you get KU!! Great opportunity, here.

  7. Oh my gosh. Seriously?! These sound awful. Great review though. Honest, and you make your points. I appreciate an honest review.

  8. Ho-lee-crap.
    Seriously?! I am fascinated and horrified all at the same time!

  9. PMS, no; hormones, yes. (And looks like Hilling, not Helling.)

  10. Typo corrected! Also, I am aware that pregnant women deal with hormones - and had the author used "hormones" I wouldn't single out that sentence. It's a pretty glaring mistake that really brings into question the author's status as an "expert" and the editing of the book as a whole.

  11. Late responding, but feel free to quote Miss Diana!