Adventures in Reading

Revisted Reviews: Childless Revolution by Madelyn Cain

Madelyn Cain’s definition of “childless” and “childfree” are childless individuals are people who wanted children but never conceived and childfree individuals are people who actively chose not to have children. After this point is made the book is mostly complete rubbish, but this was apparent from the author’s introduction where Cain discusses that the most important ambition, goal, and purpose of her life was to have children. She wrote the book for herself as consolation of her fear of, “What would my life have been if I had never had a child?” Cain is a mother writing about the experiences of the childfree/less and she seems to greatly miss the point for some people.

I was interested in this book because every time I stumble across a childfree book list – there it is! The book is divided into three childless sections (choice, chance, and happenstance) and the choice/childfree section is the shortest. Without saying these things are explicitly true, Cain does ensure to link and even suggest within the childfree chapter that women who dislike children have a genetic disorder, men seeking vasectomies at young ages are associated with a religious cult, not wanting children (if not genetic) as a result of childhood trauma/abuse, and of course the never failing favorite – childfree people are selfish/bitter. The section is then broken into three further categories of positively childfree, environmentally childfree, and religiously childfree. Cain does a successful job through her interviews to make everyone in these groups (excluding the religiously childfree) sound crazy.

Other problematic areas in the book include some very negative discussion about adoption (a la the orphans will put arsenic in the well variety), a pervading idea that men are forcing women not to have children, if you don’t have a husband OR a child you will be old and alone, it’s “ironic” that lesbians have so much trouble having/adopting children rather than homophobic, the extreme level of Christianity her interviewees expresses, little discussion about disabled couples, and no comment at all about individuals who couldn’t conceive from birth, no comment on the continuous “my genes” conversations that occur, etc. The list does just go on and on.

The last saving grace of this book is the brief section about childfree/less complaints. This includes tax, work, housing, etc issues. I would not suggest this book to anyone but if you are going to read it please do so with extreme reservations.

As I’ve mentioned before, last summer I started to realize that I did not want to have children and resulting from past expectations and assumptions it was important for me to explore the childfree experience. Childless Revolution I believe was the first such related book that I read. Driving home from the library with my partner, I remember reading the introduction and was quite taken aback that it was a woman who had a child that had written the book. This doesn’t mean that a mother could never write a book about childlessness but I must assume that Cain was not one of these women who mastered the talent.

And an additional review from Bookslut.


What a very misleading title and cover. Good thing I read your review before I’d even heard of the book.

Comment by ria

It’s the same thing with another (2007) book. This was recommended on Amazon, but wrongly: “I Am More Than My Infertility” begins with 4 people (2 authors, a foreword and an introduction) talking about their kids! It’s appalling that they claim to tell me how to “get over it” when I can afford neither IVF nor adoption.

Comment by Cynthy

Cynthy: Very interesting! I’ve read some comments that books written from these perspectives are still “fine,” but frankly I am uncomfortable with them being marketed as they are. It’s one thing if the book jacket says this is a mother writing about her friend’s experiences, her period of infertility, etc. but I’m amazed they are presented as infertility or childfree books when they’re in many ways not.

Comment by bookchronicle

started blogging BECAUSE i can’t find a book that talks to me about infertility without the treatment saga. it’s over, i can’t get pregnant (des daughter) and hubby won’t adopt. so, here we are! another book “sweet grapes” ….play on “sour grapes” which i am, according to them because of my difficulty getting over the fact that my dream is shattered. this book is about a couple who choose to be childfree after being infertile/childless. this book covers the gamut (no pun intended, amazing how close that is to gamete) of where you may be in the process and hopes to show you “there is life after infertility” uh, hello, by definition it is NOT able to create a life. so, if my life stinks right now, don’t try to fix it for me.

Comment by Cynthy

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