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Accidentally on Purpose: A One-Night Stand, My Unplanned Parenthood, and Loving the Best Mistake I Ever Made Hardcover – Jun 2008

4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 1 edition (Jun. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061256927
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061256929
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.7 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,605,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Brave and funny' - Polly Williams, author of The Rise and Fall of a Slummy Mummy --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Mary Pols lives with her son Dolan in California, USA. She is a journalist and film critic. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Gilbey on 18 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
I read this book from cover to cover on one long haul flight. I laughed and cried so much I think the other passengers thought I was having a breakdown!
Pushing 40, Mary's ovaries are sounding a five bell alarm. After enduring an evening with a group of smug marrieds and their kids Mary picks up a cute young guy in a bar. A few weeks later she tracks him down and when she tells him they are soon to be parents, his reaction surprises her. "Great he says 'Everyone want kids don't they?"
Mary's writing is sassy, crisp and witty and her descriptions of trying to raise not just a baby but his Dad to boot, are hilarious.
But it was Mary's accounts of her elderly parent's demise and eventual deaths, that had me sobbing.
don't be put off by the slightly girlie cover, this is a grown up book and a magical read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By N. Scollay on 17 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a very funny true and story of a single woman getting pregnant
aged 39 after a one-night stand. The father is sexy but totally
unsuitable as he is ten years younger than her, has no job, trashes her
car. I enjoyed this very much and could really relate to so many of the
situations she found herself in from pregnancy and birth troubles
through nightmare childcare scenarios and the difficulties of having a
social life - never mind dating - after having a baby. And there's a
great 'will they, won't they' relationship angle with the baby's father.
Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book as I felt it was something I could relate to. However, upon reading it I felt it mainly went into the author's childhood and other personal issues. I didn't really feel it tapped into being a woman who later in life found out by surprise that she was pregnant. It almost felt like the author was slightly detached when writing it. To be honest I got very bored half way through and it was hard to keep going.
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By goodallrounder on 11 July 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thought it would be like the TV show but it wasn't as funny. Still a OK read though
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 52 reviews
35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
With reservations... 11 Aug. 2008
By a lange - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Though I really enjoyed this book for a variety of reasons, it concerns me that Pols was so ruthless and revealing about her relationship with her son's father. Although she certainly does not paint herself as the perfect mate or parent, she is not gracious about her son's father's (perceived) failings. I just thought it brutal, and more than a little indecorous to go into such detail about their sexual behavior and how he doesn't measure up in so many ways. How unkind a picture to bequeath her son! I think the rationale that it is for "art's sake" is thin, and symptomatic of our boundry-less popular culture. Sure, Pols is honest about her own warts, but that doesn't mitigate the cruel overexposure she has subjected her son and his father to.

That said, it is often funny and definitely a page-turner.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Single Dad Review 10 Sept. 2009
By Lynn Byrd Cpa - Published on
Format: Paperback
Mary Pols shares her unconventional life as a single mom, daughter, and journalist in this memoir. The book honestly addresses her relationship with her parents, her baby's daddy, and her movie critic career.

I often found myself being as critical of Mary Pols as she was of her baby's father, Matt. Ms. Pols consistently portrayed Matt as a young man who failed to grow emotionally and accept responsibility. Yet it was Ms. Pols who consciously or unconsciously made the decision to become a single mother ... accidently on purpose.

The story did get a little slow for me when Ms. Pols wrote of her relationship with her parents and their deaths. My interest was in the happy single mother not the unhappy daughter.

There were times I felt Ms. Pols was hesitant to share the details of her relationship with her son as well as the trials and rewards of motherhood. Unlike some of the reviews I have read, I do not believe Ms. Pols is completely forthcoming.

Overall, the book is very well written and mostly engaging. Now I'd like to hear from the single dad, Matt. Has he found the relationship and the situation rewarding? What is your take, Matt? It is your turn.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Funny yet Touching Memoir 6 Aug. 2009
By Julie Peterson - Published on
Format: Paperback
I decided to read ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE: THE TRUE TALE OF A HAPPY SINGLE MOTHER by Mary F. Pols because I thought the book looked "cute." I mean the cover is just precious, right? Plus, the author's story had an uncanny likeness to someone I know, and I was a bit curious to get some insight into the situation. After reading ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE, I definitely can say that it was a very interesting story and a very good book. And while I didn't always understand Ms. Pols' actions and I did have some difficulties relating to her, none of that affected my enjoyment of this book.

ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE is Mary Pols' story of becoming a single mother and how she worked out all of the kinks that she encountered along the way. Ms. Pols hooked up one night with a younger man that she had just met at a bar. She had a good time but realized that they were at very different places in their lives -- he was in his late 20s and didn't even have a steady job. They didn't really stay in touch much after the hook-up, until a few weeks later when she discovered that she was pregnant. As a 39 year old woman who knew she wanted a child, she figured this might be her last chance to have one so she decides to keep the baby.

ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE is Ms. Pols' first book; however, she is not a stranger to the written word. She has been a film reviewer for many years before deciding to undertake a book writing career. I found ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE to be very readable, and I became caught up in Ms. Pols' life (and her predicament) right from the start. I was very impressed with storytelling abilities and her writing style, but I think I was more impressed with her honesty. There are parts of this story that aren't exactly flattering towards Ms. Pols, yet she told this story in a very real and upfront manner. I didn't feel as if she were holding anything back! What I also really liked about this book was how she managed to tell this story with so much wit. Her writing was extremely smart and funny while also being insightful.

I expected this book to tell me the story of Ms. Pols' pregnancy and her transition into motherhood as well as her relationship issues with the father (and it definitely was); but what I didn't expect was how much of this story would be about the relationship between Ms. Pols and her parents. I was deeply touched by how Ms. Pols wrote about her aging parents and how she dealt with these changes. I really appreciated how Ms. Pols was able to open up to the reader about everything that was happening in her life and how it affected her -- trying to figure out her relationships, becoming a first time mother, and losing her parents. She definitely managed to go through a lot in just a short period of time -- and survive! I found her story to be rather inspiring at times.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Unexpected Motherhood Gives Pols Insight Into Various Types of Love 13 Jun. 2008
By Rachel Kramer Bussel - Published on
Format: Hardcover
SPOILERS: Mary F. Pols's memoir starts out with a one-night stand, but winds up being as much a meditation on her family of origin as the one she creates with a most unlikely mate. At 39, she has wanted a child, but hasn't done much to move that process along. When she finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, she doesn't question keeping the baby, but does question who she wound up procreating with: Matt, an unemployed guy ten years her junior with roommates, a messy apartment, and little ambition. Though she's hot for him and continues to be throughout her pregnancy, reconciling his role in her life is something that doesn't stop even after she gives birth to her son Dolan (a family name).

Pols's pregnancy and birth story are the backbone of this book, but equally as important is her large family, which is in flux as each of her parents go on the decline as her pregnancy progresses. Pols weaves in memories of her parents as well as her sense that she is not living up to what they'd expected of her. But what Pols learns again and again is not to underestimate those around her, whether it's her father's acceptance of her unwed and single state (and of Matt as the father of his grandson) as well as Matt's ability to rise up to his role as father.

When Pols finds out Matt had been cheating on her toward the end of her pregnancy, it's one of the rawest parts of the book, one where both people seem "right" as well as "wrong." Pols is understandably angry ("'Was this mercy f---ing?" I asked. "Taking care of the pregnant woman's needs? You felt nothing at all?'") but it's clear that Matt has been upfront with her from the start. Their tumultuous push-pull relationship is a struggle especially once they become parents.

Does this book have a happy ending? Yes, and no. In fact, the latter chapters, dealing with the deaths of Pols's parents, are intense, and (sorry to spoil it) but there is no wedding or a traditional happily ever after. But I think the lesson of the book is that one's vision of "Happily Ever After" cannot stay fixed in stone, especially when it comes to childrearing. Pols was forced to rearrange and update and transform her vision, to embrace both her child's father and the people she lost even as she gained her son. "He makes me so happy I can hardly stand it," Pols writes of her son, after he's snuggled up to her and said, "I'm petting you." That's not to say that Pols started out bitter and cynical and wound up smiling and maternal, but rather the potential to love so unconditionally was brought out by her dealings with Matt and feelings for her son, and reflected back at her in the ways she and her siblings coped with her parents' deaths.

Pols also speaks to the gap she felt between her peers who were already mothers and the path she chose as a movie critic. Her abortion at 21 left her feeling that "I'd failed as a daughter and I'd failed as the mother of the child I could have had."

Ultimately, Pols speaks to a story greater than her own. Through her co-parenting arrangement, she is remaking what we mean when we think of the "single mother," while being honest about the challenges as well as positives of such a setup. She gives hope to those who either never really thought about having kids, or couldn't seem to get it together to do so, and while she's not urging her readers to go off and get knocked up in a one-night stands, this isn't just a "make lemonade out of lemons" endurance. The central question of the book's title can never truly be answered, and perhaps a little of each are what made for the "best mistake" of Pols's life.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Poor guy 19 Jun. 2008
By kevnm - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is an entertaining and readable memoir, but I couldn't help feeling a little bad for baby's father. This easygoing, hapless young slacker gets an ambitious, older career woman pregnant and enters the maelstrom of her mid-life crisis. Nothing he can do is right, or is enough for the stranger he is suddenly attached to. His apartment is messy, he's not ambitious, he likes the Simpsons. He seems to try his best to be a father,
but he is what he is: some young guy she met in a bar.

The book is a good read, and the sudden introduction to motherhood is the real, and compelling story, but save a little sympathy for the poor sap
who also experienced a trying, high-maintenance life change.
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