What happens when a forty-something, community college sociology professor learns that her mother―a charming, passive-aggressive, and needy woman who hasn’t had a lover in decades―has started seeing men who want to be bound, whipped, and sexually dominated?
What happens when a forty-something, community college sociology professor learns that her mother―a charming, passive-aggressive, and needy woman who hasn’t had a lover in decades―has started seeing men who want to be bound, whipped, and sexually dominated? What happens when that same mother, shortly after diving into her newly discovered sexuality, develops a cancer that forces her to accept radical changes to her body, and then another that forces her, and everyone around her, to confront her mortality? In Bound, Elizabeth Anne Wood addresses these questions as she chronicles the last eight months of her mother’s life―a period she comes to see, over the course of months, as a maternity leave in reverse: she is carrying her mother as she dies. Throughout their journey, Wood uses her notebook as a shield to keep unruly emotions at bay, often taking comfort in her role as advocate and forgetting to “be the daughter,” as one doctor reminds her to do. Meanwhile, her mother’s penchant for denial and her childlike tendency toward magical thinking lead to moments of humor even as Wood battles the red tape of hospital bureaucracies, the frustration of planning in the midst of an unpredictable illness, and the unintentional inhumanity of a health care system that too often fails to see the person behind the medical chart.
Bound is an amazing read from start to finish. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read the summary of the book but it blew me away.
This book focuses on the relationship between Mom and daughter as they struggle through an extremely difficult time – her Mother’s cancer and being a caregiver. Like many illnesses, they could never have known the road that they would go down based on the initial diagnosis and the stress, pain, uncertainty that cancer brings with it. The relationship between Mother and child (like so many of us) was complicated. So many times, Dr. Wood was more of a parental figure throughout her childhood, teen years and as an adult. Despite this and having to deal with the ups and downs of cancer, their relationship was special. Dr. Wood accepted and loved her Mother, she championed her Mother’s choices and never made her feel negative about the lifestyle she chose later in life. What I found interesting was how Dr. Wood connected the power that her Mother felt in her BDSM lifestyle and how this could possibly be connected to the insecurity and lack of power that her Mother must have felt as a child and in her marriage.
Dr. Wood shares an open and honest story of their battle with cancer, palliative care, navigating the health care system, struggling with her choices to ensure her Mother’s best interests were a top priority. While I initially thought the book would focus on the BDSM lifestyle, it was so much more. Instead, it tied in the confidence and power she found in her lifestyle, to her struggles with the health care field, her marriage and through palliative care. She openly shares the struggles they had with the health care system and how so often because of health care being viewed as a business with so many rules, the human aspect is removed and the negative impacts that this has on the patient.
I loved the way this book was written, you cannot put it down. It is an emotional journey – I laughed, I cried and my heart was sore at so many time throughout the story. This has been one of the best books that I have read this year.
In honor of her mother’s birthday, Dr. Wood has arranged to the price of the e-book to $0.99 for the length of this tour (June 24, 2020 to July 10, 2020).
About the Author
Elizabeth Anne Wood is Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work at Nassau Community College in Garden City, NY. She is also Senior Strategist for Woodhull Freedom Foundation, the nation’s only human rights organization working full time to protect sexual freedom as a fundamental human right. She earned her PhD at Brandeis University in 1999 and has written critically about sexuality and society ever since. Born on an Army base in Kentucky, Wood grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and now divides her time between Queens, New York and Jamaica Plain, Boston. She is a devoted fan of Amtrak and an avowed cat person.
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Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.