Katrina Alcorn was a 37-year-old mother with a happy marriage and a thriving career when one day, on the way to Target to buy diapers, she had a breakdown. Her carefully built career shuddered to a halt, and her journey through depression, anxiety, and insomnia - followed by medication, meditation, and therapy - began.
Alcorn wondered how a woman like herself, with a loving husband, a supportive boss, three healthy kids, and a good income, was unable to manage the demands of having a career and a family. Over time, she realized that she wasn't alone. As she questioned other working moms, she realized that many women were struggling to do it all, crashing, and feeling as if they were somehow failing as a result.
Mothers are the breadwinners in two-thirds of American families, yet the American workplace is uniquely hostile to the needs of parents. Weaving in surprising research about the dysfunction between the careers and home lives of working mothers, as well as the consequences to women's health, Alcorn tells a deeply personal story about "having it all,” failing miserably, and what comes after.
Ultimately, she offers readers a vision for a healthier, happier, and more productive way to live and work.
©2013 Katrina Alcorn (P)2013 Katrina Alcorn
I read somewhere that the definition of insanity is to be able to hold two contradictory beliefs in your mind at the same time and believe both equally. That's where Maxed Out left me. Half of me really agreed with the thesis that the American system (as opposed to Sweden which is portrayed as a working parents' Nirvana) is broken and working mothers are set up to fail.
The other half of my mind found Katrina Alcorn an over-priveleged whiner who had a great spouse, healthy kids, owned her own home, full health insurance for whole family debt free except the mortgage, high-paying, creative job (where demands such as having to review project proposals wete viewed as mind-breaking stress. Really?) Fantastic, understanding boss who loved her. Got her daughter in one of the very, very few good public schools in the East Bay. (I live here too.) Got invited to the Ted Conference. Had to sacrifice mommy yoga, making organic baby food, and cloth diapers when she returned to her job where she was highly valued and over praised and allowed to work a four day week. AND WHAT KIND OF LIFE IS THAT?
So, a dilemma. I think the subject is worthy, but I didn't buy Katrina Alcorn as the poster child for the working mother. (Though she is quite childish in places...) I found myself thinking most women I know would love to have her problems. But these are women with real problems - addicted kids, cancer either in themselves or close family members, unemployment, houses in foreclosure, etc. I look forward to more reviews to see what others think. The book is well written and supported by interesting sociological research. More interesting than the author's story, in fact.
This book is a stand-out work of non-fiction. It not only tells you the author's personal story, but it provides structure and perspective from outside sources. And beyond that it gives you a message of hope and purpose.
As a full-time working mother, I swear this could have been my narrative spoken straight from my lips. I had experienced my breaking point not two weeks before I stumbled upon this book. It helped me so much to know that I wasn't alone.
I loved listening to Katrina read her story. I felt like I was on a phone call with a best girlfriend who was telling me about her life and relating it to mine. The print version is powerful, of course, and I own both, but I prefer hearing the inflection of her voice and the emphasis and emotion she ads to the story. Also, it's hard to read while driving. ;-)
I think there are a lot of women who can relate to this story. Not only that, though, this is a bigger, global issue of valuing family and supporting parents in the workplace. This story is a personal account but also provides factual data in a journalistic style. When a dad tells me, "Dads struggle with that, too," I can relate, of course, I know dads struggle with balancing family and work but there's the additional data backing up why women, specifically, still have the bigger burden of guilt, childcare, family planning, etc.
Everyone, especially your CEO, should read this.
Katrina is the every-mom. She's telling her story but relating it to all of us. She's the most personable author and even reaches out to her readers. I've enjoyed knowing her through her book but now feel like I've found a friend through her story. As I, personally, am in the grips of leaving a corporate job in the same field as Katrina, facing the prospect of another corporate job, looking at how many schedules we balance and bills and laundry, I needed to hear this story at this very time. Thanks for recommending it, Audible. It was because of your suggestion of titles, I found this life altering, powerful message.
I loved this book... it should be a Ted Talk. I would write in more detail, but I have to finish a project and pick up the kids...
Alcorn isn't dramatic, preachy or angry. She's just a great storyteller and a real person.
She's just like all of us and shows what happens if you don't have balance or boundaries.
I listen to lots of books, and Alcorn's voice is one of my favorites.
When she actually snapped, I had to stop and really think about my life. She helped validate my professional decisions. I left work, got a massage, then had fun cooking dinner with my kids. I can overachieve when they're older.
I really enjoyed listening to the author's actual voice in this memoir format. Only she could bring her own experiences, emotions and frustrations to life in the way that was true to her story.
"When a Mother walks away from Societal Expectations"
As a mother of three children, I could truly relate to this memoir. I found it very encouraging and would definitely recommend it to any mom, (stay-at-home or working outside the home) who is trying to do it all. This book just makes a woman realize that so many of us go through the same stressors and struggles, but it takes guts to be genuine about it, like Katrina did in her book.
One of the most important books i've read in a long time.
The book made me realize that I'm not the only working mom that finds this crazy life so difficult.
What is wrong with our society?
Katrina invited me into every part of her experience. As I journeyed with her and her story unfolded I discovered that her story was also my story.I couldn't wait to see how her story ended so that I could have hope for my story.
Katrina gives herself the rest she, and all of us, desperately need and then she triumphs! Woo Hoo, Katrina!
I laughed and cried. Mostly, I cried while I laughed.
Thank you for articulating what has been running through my head and heart since my son was born 14 years ago and my daughter 12 years ago. Thank you for putting your loving words out there... they made me feel less alone and way less freakish. I'm going to listen again. Right now! Every mom I know who is bravely pretending not to feel exactly like I do is getting this book for Christmas. I'll also be placing a copy in the magazine rack in our lunch room in hopes that one or more of our C level leaders will pick it up and read it.
Should be required reading for: working mothers, working fathers, SAHMs, stay-at-home-dads, expectant parents, people considering starting a family, single co-workers, bosses, grandparents, politicians, the president. This describes the experience of a well-paid professional family. Just imagine how it plays out in a working class family. Acorn's brave story--and others like it--are changing the world.
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