Thirty essays by writers who are the mothers of sons comprise this collection edited by Andrea J. Buchanan. (Buchanan, herself the mother of a boy and girl, contributed the eponymous essay "It's a Boy!") The essays are divided among four sections, which, briefly put, explore topics related to "prenatal boy apprehension," the "otherness" of boys, gender expectations, and the transition of boys to manhood. Some of the essays are humorous, some poignant, some thoughtful, and readers will undoubtedly have their own favorites. But there really isn't a clunker in the bunch.
Among the more affecting essays in the collection are Susan Ito's "Samuel," about the baby boy she was forced to abort only two weeks before he would have been viable, and Susan O'Doherty's "The Velvet Underground," in which the author chronicles the lesser heartbreak of her son's emotional scarring at the hands of his insensitive playmates. Jacquelyn Mitchard's reflections on her son's transition to manhood ("The Day He Was Taller") are unexpectedly poignant, while Jennifer Lauck's "It Takes a Village" was simply chilling--in fact unputdownable.
Catherine Newman touches on the subjects of gender expectations and homosexuality in her sweet, amusing essay "Pretty Baby." She writes about the various reactions people have to seeing her son wearing his favorite color, bright pink:[...]
Boys are famous for having penises, of course, and they come in two basic styles. In her amusing essay "Making the Cut" Jamie Pearson recounts the arguments she and her husband had over the circumcision question prior to her son's birth: [...]
Among the more thought provoking essays--because you probably never thought about the issue it raises before--is Katie Kaput's "Things You Can't Teach." She writes about the peculiar difficulties she faces as a transsexual girl with a son who might or might not be--not that there's anything wrong with it--"light in the diapers." Kaput is keenly aware of the likelihood that any non-straight behavior exhibited by her son will be blamed on her. But she learns that her son "far from being an empty vessel for my unintentional brainwashing vibes, was his own little guy." It's a simple truth so many of the mothers in this book have been happy to learn from their children.
In addition to the authors mentioned above, It's a Boy contains essays by the following: Stephany Aulenback, Karen E. Bender, Kathryn Black, Robin Bradford, Gayle Brandeis, Faulkner Fox, Katie Allison Granju, Ona Gritz, Gwendolen Gross, Melanie Lynne Hauser, Marrit Ingman, Suzanne Kamata, Caroline Leavitt, Jody Mace, Jennifer Margulis, Marjorie Osterhout, Lisa Peet, Jodi Picoult, Maura Rhodes, Rochelle Shapiro, Kate Staples, and Marion Wink.