Review

Guarding the Moon: A Mother's First Year

by Francesca Lia Block



With only a quick glance at the title, GUARDING THE MOON: A
Mother's First Year, it is easy to imagine Francesca Lia Block's
latest book as a guide for parents of newborns. But inside the
cover is instead a beautiful, poetic and often brutally honest
memoir of a first time mother's love for her baby and a record of
her journey to self-love and emotional fulfillment.

GUARDING THE MOON is a chronicle of Block's first year of
motherhood: her joys, fears, anxieties and discoveries. Beginning
at the moment she gives birth --- when she welcomes her daughter
into the world --- and ending with the baby's first birthday, this
slender volume is intimate and powerful. Block always wanted
children, but barriers seemed to meet her at every turn. When she
brings her healthy baby to term, after previously miscarrying, the
responsibility she feels for her daughter (both physical and
emotional) is overwhelming and awesome --- as overwhelming and
awesome as if she had been chosen to guard the moon.

While, for the most part, the book is about one woman's emotional,
physical and spiritual reaction to becoming a mother, it is also
about community and family. Block is supported in her first year as
a mother by her loving husband and mother, surrounded by friends
and adored by her two dogs. All of them contribute to her
experience and story.

Still, at the center of this literary celebration are Block and her
daughter, also affectionately known as Babela, Kewpie, Moon Girl
and Girly-Swirl, to mention just a few pet names. In the beginning,
they are dependant on each other as frame of reference; the mother
is the baby's world, the baby is the mother's moon. But, over the
course of the year, they both begin to expand their universe. The
baby faces new challenges and the mother begins to explore new
personal possibilities and even imagines more babies. Each grows
stronger and wiser.

GUARDING THE MOON is really about creation and transformation ---
the creation of one life and the transformation of another. Block
shares much of her own troubled emotional past, her feelings of
self-doubt and eating disorder. Becoming a mother does not erase or
change the things that made her sad in the past, but it does give
her a new and healthier perspective. Her body, once a vessel of
pain and self-scorn, is now a giver and sustainer of life, loved
unconditionally by her daughter.

Just in time for Mother's Day, Block's book is a perfect gift. And,
while it does discuss the mundane details that are included in most
parenting books, such as diapers, lack of sleep and baby food, it
also discusses family dynamics, marital intimacy, unexpected
pleasures and pains of motherhood --- all written like a love
letter, reading like a poem. GUARDING THE MOON is incredibly
intimate and intensely spiritual. It is a unique contribution to
parenting books and an important one. Block does not speak for all
new mothers but shares her story in such a moving way that makes it
highly readable and recommendable.

Reviewed by Sarah Egelman on January 22, 2011

Guarding the Moon: A Mother's First Year
by Francesca Lia Block

  • Publication Date: April 1, 2003
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction, Parenting
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0066213673
  • ISBN-13: 9780066213675