Book Review: A Childless Love Story

This Particular Happiness: A Childless Love Story by Jackie Shannon Hollis, Forest Avenue Press, 2019.

I want to share this new book with you. For a lot of us who are—or might be—childless by marriage, it’s exactly what we need to read. The book isn’t out yet. The publisher gave me a pre-publication copy to review. But you can pre-order it now, and I highly recommend it.

Finally someone has told the story of what it’s like to be childless because your partner doesn’t want to have kids. Not childless by choice, not childless by infertility, but childless because of who you love. It happens more than people realize, especially when you marry someone who has been married before.

I told a similar story in my Childless by Marriage book, but I took a more journalistic approach, with lots of research and interviews. Shannon lays it out there in a beautifully written love story.

As a farm girl raised in eastern Oregon, Hollis expected to become a mother someday. But, after several failed relationships and a failed marriage, she met Bill, a man who didn’t want children. She pushed as hard as she dared to change his mind, telling him very clearly, “I want to have a baby,” but in the end she had to accept that she needed to enjoy the life she had with the man she loved. It is a life in which they are free to travel, to explore their passions, and to enjoy their many nieces and nephews.

Through the years, she had lots of doubts. Everyone else in her family had children. Her mother warned that she might grow up to be a bitter, lonely old woman. That fear haunted her, even as she began to realize she might be all right without children.

Hollis shares the frightening story of being sexually assaulted when she was 20. She also talks honestly about the friendships she lost because she found it hard to be around while her friends were having babies. The doubts, disappointment, and grief of childlessness are all here, along with the joys and possibilities. If you’re childless or looking at the possibility of being childless, read this. Even people with children and grandchildren will enjoy this book because it’s a good story, the first I hope of many terrific books by my sister Oregonian Jackie Shannon Hollis.

This Particular Happiness will not be released until October, but it is available for pre-orders at https://www.jackieshannonhollis.com/ as well as at Amazon.com. You can enjoy a lot of her writing as well as videos at her website. Check it out.

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Thank you for your kind words and prayers for my father and me. (See last week’s post) At this moment, he is out of the hospital and back at the skilled nursing facility. I’m back in Oregon, so we can only connect by phone. His voice sounds stronger and clearer than it has in months. He seems to have overcome his recent infections, but he still has a lot of issues. Plus, the nursing home lost all his possessions in the upheaval of going to the hospital and coming back to a different room. I ache to be there, so I can tear that place apart looking for his clothes, his bathrobe, his glasses and his electric razor. Grr.

In my post, I compared caregiving to being a mother. In the comments, most readers have insisted it is not the same, not at all, even if both involve diapers, feeding, and sleepless nights. Do you agree? There’s still plenty of time to join the discussion.

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Mother’s Day is Sunday in the U.S. I’m trying to pretend that isn’t happening. It will be hard to ignore when the moms are getting blessed at church. I can’t skip Mass because I’m leading the choir. But you do whatever makes you comfortable. Reach out to the moms in your life, go camping, or watch videos till your eyes hurt. Be good to yourselves. It will all be over on Monday.

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5 thoughts on “Book Review: A Childless Love Story

  1. Hi Sue, thanks for this post. I’m intrigued to read this book and so have it on pre-order. It has always been very difficult for me to admit that the reason I don’t have children is because my husband never wanted them. I somehow thought it made me look weak. So, I’ve pretended all my life that it was a joint decision and so hiding the pain. In my dark moments, I wonder why I never ended the relationship, perhaps I didn’t want children that much. Perhaps my love for my husband was greater. It’s an internal battle I live with every day. Either way, at 60 its too late now. So, I’m looking forward to reading the book and seeing how being out in the open about it might help me feel a little more at peace with myself.

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    • I know that battle, Sue. There was a time when I let people think I was infertile rather than blame my husband. Other times, I said, “God had other plans.” It’s hard to say it out loud. I think this book will help.

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  2. Thank you, Sue, for this beautiful post and for your support. And as you say, I think there are more of us who are childless by marriage. And, to the commenter above, I understand that feeling, that fear of seeming weak. But loving deeply is a superpower. I hope you find my book helpful.

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  3. Sue,

    I have heard the same things. As you know, I struggle with Fathers Day. It should be renamed to “National Chopped Liver Day”, because that’s what I feel like. God I hate and dread it.

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  4. Just catching up – so sorry to hear about all the trials with your father. Hugs and prayers to you as you navigate this things with him.

    Church wasn’t so bad yesterday. Our new priest is very serious. He did an obligatory blessing but it wasn’t at all moving or sweet. At the “sign of peace” my mother in law mouthed, “happy mothers day”. She thinks that being a Godmother is just as important as being a real mom. I don’t feel the same way. I’ve shared my view with her. But she insists. She’s a sweet women so I don’t resent her for saying these hurtful words. For whatever reason she feels she HAS to say it so I allow it. Even though it really drives me crazy.

    I wished another women a happy mothers day and without thinking she said, “oh hey, thanks. Happy Mothers Day to you.” And then her eyes got big and she dove in with an uncharacteristic hug. “Sorry”, she said in a low voice. “I’m sure you’re a Godmother right?”

    “Yes. Not the same, but thank you.” She gave me a squeeze and said, “I know.”

    It was fine. She misspoke (as I often do myself). And she didn’t cover it up by insisting that my role as Godmother is just as important. She knows it. I know it. It is what it is.

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