Mothers of Sparta
Discovered by Michael Ondaatje, Davies’ dazzling literary memoir has shades of Mary Karr, Anne Lamott, and Jenny Lawson.Some women are born mothers, some achieve motherhood, others have motherhood thrust upon them. Dawn Davies is in the third category. A six-foot-tall divorcee, she isn’t chatty, couldn’t care less about anyone’s potty training progress, doesn’t care to share her own children’s milestones with people who don’t love them. But even if she has never fit in with other moms, she has raised three children with her own particular brand of fierce, unflagging love. In stories that cut to the quick, we see Davies grow from a young girl who moves to a new town every couple of years; to a misfit teenager who finds solace in a local music scene; to an adrift twenty-something who summons inner strength as she holds the hand of a dying stranger; to a woman dealing with difficult pregnancies and post-partum depression. And in her powerful titular story, we see Davies struggling with the weight of knowing that her son is deeply troubled.Mothers of Sparta is not a blow-by-blow of Davies’ life but rather an examination of the exquisite and often painful moments of a life, the moments we look back on and say, That one, that one mattered. Straddling the fence between humor and, well…not humor, Davies has written a book about what it’s like to be a woman trying to carve a place for herself in the world, no matter how unyielding the rock can be.

Mothers of Sparta Details

TitleMothers of Sparta
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 30th, 2018
PublisherFlatiron Books
ISBN-139781250133700
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing, Essays

Mothers of Sparta Review

  • Selena
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free ARC copy of Mothers of Sparta by Dawn Davies from Goodreads for my honest review. Mothers of Sparta is a collection of sad and funny personal essays that define Dawn Davies' life. This is a very different book and although I did find it very sad, it is brilliantly written.
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  • Lynne
    January 1, 1970
    This is the first book I have read that both wrenches your gut with heartbreak and makes you laugh out loud at the humor at the same time. Dawn Davies reveals her life in graphic detail, all her most intimate thoughts on childbirth, divorce, raising a blended family and a life full of pets. She writes her memoir in loosely connected chapters from various points in her life. Some are hilarious accounts of everyday life events interspersed with tragic and painful events which are unique to Ms. Dav This is the first book I have read that both wrenches your gut with heartbreak and makes you laugh out loud at the humor at the same time. Dawn Davies reveals her life in graphic detail, all her most intimate thoughts on childbirth, divorce, raising a blended family and a life full of pets. She writes her memoir in loosely connected chapters from various points in her life. Some are hilarious accounts of everyday life events interspersed with tragic and painful events which are unique to Ms. Davies. Just when you think this has been an extraordinarily well-written and entertaining memoir of life’s ups and downs, she charges forward with an all revealing ending which brings your heart to a standstill. Davies says she listened to the song “Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid” during her writing. She claims these words to be a warning for the memoirist. However, she left very little unsaid in her story. She is brazenly honest about the most brutal aspects of her life. I highly recommend this book but be forewarned that it will not “let you go” after reading it.
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  • Amy Morgan
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you Edelweiss for my review copy of this book. Mothers of Sparta was an engaging and entertaining read.Dawn Davies tells the story of her life from her childhood that was not made easy as she moved towns every couple of years and never seemed to quite fit in - whether it was with the kids in each new town or the other people she meets as she progresses into motherhood.We see the moments of Dawn's life through the stories in this book that tealky shaped her life. From her sense of instabili Thank you Edelweiss for my review copy of this book. Mothers of Sparta was an engaging and entertaining read.Dawn Davies tells the story of her life from her childhood that was not made easy as she moved towns every couple of years and never seemed to quite fit in - whether it was with the kids in each new town or the other people she meets as she progresses into motherhood.We see the moments of Dawn's life through the stories in this book that tealky shaped her life. From her sense of instability in her childhood to holding the hand of a dying stranger to difficult pregnancies and a marriage doomed from the start to finding out her youngest son is severely troubled to a chance st starting over and finding a way out of the darkness and back into the light. Davie's struggles are something many can relate to and she tells her stories in a strong and often humorous voice.
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    All my reviews can be found at: http://jessicasreadingroom.com~~~~**Please note that this is not a review of the whole memoir, just the sample that Flatiron Books released.**Flatiron Books advertised on their Facebook page about the Mothers of Sparta sampler: A Piece of Pie just in time for Thanksgiving. This sampler of Dawn Davies’ upcoming memoir was published on November 21st and is 18 pages long. This is the perfect time for this sampler to be release as it deals with a new mother dealing wi All my reviews can be found at: http://jessicasreadingroom.com~~~~**Please note that this is not a review of the whole memoir, just the sample that Flatiron Books released.**Flatiron Books advertised on their Facebook page about the Mothers of Sparta sampler: A Piece of Pie just in time for Thanksgiving. This sampler of Dawn Davies’ upcoming memoir was published on November 21st and is 18 pages long. This is the perfect time for this sampler to be release as it deals with a new mother dealing with her infant’s first Thanksgiving and the chaos that ensues. All she wants to do is bake a pie!Davies perfectly captured her experience and the story gives people who are not parents an idea of the craziness that new moms go through. I’m sure the parents that read this will laugh and understand where Davies comes from. Flatiron Books accomplished their intention of offering this sample for free: I want to read the rest of this memoir!
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  • Cheryl
    January 1, 1970
    This is a light read. I breezed through this book in almost one sitting. Although, I will tell you that there were a few moments that were few and far between that I really liked reading about and can remember. Otherwise, the majority of the book was "fine". Not that I am taking anything away from the author and her story but when I am reading a memoir, I want to connect on a personal and emotional level. I really did not experience this while reading this book. Which was sad as I did think that This is a light read. I breezed through this book in almost one sitting. Although, I will tell you that there were a few moments that were few and far between that I really liked reading about and can remember. Otherwise, the majority of the book was "fine". Not that I am taking anything away from the author and her story but when I am reading a memoir, I want to connect on a personal and emotional level. I really did not experience this while reading this book. Which was sad as I did think that Ms. Davies was getting there. The humorist moments where gems. Overall, this book did not do it for me but it might for someone else.
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  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.Three and a half stars.The book jacket for Dawn Davies' essays led me to believe this would be a series of essays about an angst-filled and reluctant mother, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a set of eclectic personal essays that range in topics and tone. The essays are not necessarily sequential and the end result is a kaleidoscopic view of Davies' life - she honestly reveals both heart-breaking and humorous stories of I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.Three and a half stars.The book jacket for Dawn Davies' essays led me to believe this would be a series of essays about an angst-filled and reluctant mother, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a set of eclectic personal essays that range in topics and tone. The essays are not necessarily sequential and the end result is a kaleidoscopic view of Davies' life - she honestly reveals both heart-breaking and humorous stories of her life without all of the connective tissue that can sometimes bog down a typical memoir. The essays that resonate the most are those at the beginning and end of the collection where she honestly explores loss, death, illness and parenting in trying circumstances. Many of the essays do explore parenting but I would not describe this as a book about motherhood, nor does Davies ever appear as the reluctant mother the book jacket implies; rather she is devoted and often easy to relate to. The essays in the middle of the collection are often funny but some felt like "filler" essays of the type you might read in a women's magazine. However, the biggest detractor to the book was Davies' habit of slipping into 2nd person perspective when relating personal stories, sometimes for whole essays and sometimes for short passages. Still, Davies' heart and talent shine throughout and this is a lovely collection.
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  • Carin
    January 1, 1970
    I do love a memoir, so even though this is a memoir in a series of essays instead of a straight narrative, I was excited. Even though it was about motherhood, I was still really looking forward to it. And I liked the first few essays a lot. Ms. Davies is not a typical soccer mom and she doesn't make any excuses for that. The story about all the household pets that kept dying was hilarious (yes, also sad. But also funny.) And the story about when she was 20-ish and an accident happened right in f I do love a memoir, so even though this is a memoir in a series of essays instead of a straight narrative, I was excited. Even though it was about motherhood, I was still really looking forward to it. And I liked the first few essays a lot. Ms. Davies is not a typical soccer mom and she doesn't make any excuses for that. The story about all the household pets that kept dying was hilarious (yes, also sad. But also funny.) And the story about when she was 20-ish and an accident happened right in front of her, and she helped a man as he lay dying, was riveting. But then there were a couple of lightweight essays, including one about being a soccer mom. From a woman who supposedly wasn't a soccer mom at all! I started to get annoyed, and then the essay "Mothers of Sparta" followed, and it is harrowing.It turns out that Dawn's son, who isn't mentioned but in passing in the book up to this point (mostly her daughters are talked about), has severe problems. He was born with a cleft palate, he has health issues, and also mental health issues. As he grows up, they only get to be bigger problems. In the media, we only ever see little kids with problems, or old people who have been institutionalized. There is an enormous population of people dealing with people who are physically bigger than them, who can't be locked down, who their families don't want to institutionalize (if there even were institutions that would keep them safe and well cared for which is dubious). What do you do when you have a very large 20-something who does not understand that kiddie porn is a problem? Who is very good with computers and can get around any parental controls and even the removal of electronic devices? Not only could he be arrested, but so could you. And what if he were to try to act on these feelings he doesn't understand, and doesn't understand are wrong?Personally, I wish that essay had been the entire book. I wish it had been expanded and extrapolated on, and not relegated to being similar in weight to a story about pets or soccer. I do get that having it right after the fluffy soccer essay made the impact greater, but that just wasn't necessary—it has a huge impact by itself. I can see the author's point that she is so much more than her biggest problem, and her family is more than their biggest problem, and her life has both been centered around trying to keep her son safe (and keep the world safe from her son) but also it's been centered around not being centered around that. She doesn't want her son's problems to be the sole focus of her life and her daughters' lives, understandably. And yet. And yet.In Sparta, when a baby is born, the local priests would come and inspect it. If the baby wasn't perfect, it would be cast into a pit to die. Was that the cruelest thing in the world, or perhaps a brutal kindness? Dawn knows her son would have been relegated to the pit. And she would have fought viciously for him to survive. And yet, to what end? The ethical and moral questions she brings up are almost never discussed, certainly not this honestly by someone in the midst of them, and they really do need to be discussed. As more health issues are diagnosed and more mental health issues come into the open, we need to look them in the face and really deal with them, not sweep them under the rug so long as they are someone else's problem. This essay is a vital and oh so necessary one that everyone should read. It's raw and inspiring and honest to the core. The book overall is quite good, but just wait until you get to this essay that makes everything worthwhile.
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  • Ruth Woodman York
    January 1, 1970
    I received an advance copy of this book through a giveaway on Goodreads. The book seemed slow to start, and disjointed, as the timeline was not linear. I think I would have enjoyed it better if the timeline hadn't jumped around so. Also, one chapter, I only read half, then skipped the rest, as I honestly did not need to know what famous people the author would have gladly had sex with. It didn't seem to even be a part of the rest of her story. The last half of the book was better, but the writin I received an advance copy of this book through a giveaway on Goodreads. The book seemed slow to start, and disjointed, as the timeline was not linear. I think I would have enjoyed it better if the timeline hadn't jumped around so. Also, one chapter, I only read half, then skipped the rest, as I honestly did not need to know what famous people the author would have gladly had sex with. It didn't seem to even be a part of the rest of her story. The last half of the book was better, but the writing style still left me a bit lacking.
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  • Laura Schrillo
    January 1, 1970
    I have read the other reviews of this book and I guess I am the exception. I hated this from the first sentence but I tried to read on. The first sentence by the way is this gem, "It is a moonless night, dark and rare, and the heat is oppressive, the kind of heat where a deep breath leaves you unsatisfied, suspicious that there was nothing life-giving at all in what you've inhaled, and you are left air-hungry, wet at the pits, forehead greasy with sweat, wishing for the night to be over, for you I have read the other reviews of this book and I guess I am the exception. I hated this from the first sentence but I tried to read on. The first sentence by the way is this gem, "It is a moonless night, dark and rare, and the heat is oppressive, the kind of heat where a deep breath leaves you unsatisfied, suspicious that there was nothing life-giving at all in what you've inhaled, and you are left air-hungry, wet at the pits, forehead greasy with sweat, wishing for the night to be over, for your daughters to exhaust their energy, to cool their dense, hot centers enough to sleep for one more night in this summer that seems to stretch into your future like a planetary ring full of debris, circling forever around something it can't escape.". Yes that is one sentence. It goes on like that for another 260 pages. I tried but I gave up by page 119. I cannot figure out how this book got by an editor.
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  • Merry Miller moon
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Goodreads for the free ARC. I had never heard of this author before. But, you can bet I will look for more books from her in the future. ***POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD*** This is a memoir of sorts. As she has chosen certain elements of her life to elaborate on. I cracked up reading the chapter entitled 'Men I Would Have Slept With'-and she mentions Sitting Bull. Who hasn't made up such a list at one time or another in their life? :) Think I need to sit down and make up a more current on Thank you to Goodreads for the free ARC. I had never heard of this author before. But, you can bet I will look for more books from her in the future. ***POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD*** This is a memoir of sorts. As she has chosen certain elements of her life to elaborate on. I cracked up reading the chapter entitled 'Men I Would Have Slept With'-and she mentions Sitting Bull. Who hasn't made up such a list at one time or another in their life? :) Think I need to sit down and make up a more current one. Loved reading the chapter about the Chinese wedding dress as well. Funny! So glad that her daughter didn't jump the gun on that one. But, be warned, although this book made me laugh out loud multiple times, it is also heart wrenching. When she tells the story about her youngest child, her son....OMG! Dawn Davies, my heart is aching for you, your son and your family. I cannot even imagine. I have a son and he is my world. As I'm sure your son is to you as well. Maybe this book will get more people talking about the stigma of mental illness in our society. This was a funny, gut wrenching, thought provoking book. Read it!
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  • Lindsey
    January 1, 1970
    I was deeply affected by Dawn Davies's collection of biographical essays. I'm a single mom. Full stop. My child's father hasn't seen her since she was 6 weeks old, he has never given me any financial support, my parents live 5 1/2 hours away, and I have no other family in my city. I work full time. I have a chronic illness. I suffer from depression, generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, and OCPD. Sometimes, I can go days without speaking to any human other than my 7-year old. Since her birth, I ha I was deeply affected by Dawn Davies's collection of biographical essays. I'm a single mom. Full stop. My child's father hasn't seen her since she was 6 weeks old, he has never given me any financial support, my parents live 5 1/2 hours away, and I have no other family in my city. I work full time. I have a chronic illness. I suffer from depression, generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, and OCPD. Sometimes, I can go days without speaking to any human other than my 7-year old. Since her birth, I have given up men and dating. It's a struggle, and that's an understatement. So these brief snippets into Dawn's life as a single mother, a divorced mother, and a remarried mother really hit the mark for me.In "Keeping the Faith", Dawn dissects her obsession with death and mortality, mostly her own, and how her obsession culminated in a tragic accident, which she witnessed. Her obsessive thoughts and illogical fears were so familiar to me because I frequently deal with the same burning fear. When I was in law school, over a 6 month period, the dean of our school (with whom I was close), a classmate, and a friend's brother all passed away suddenly and tragically. I was so distraught, and I worried over death constantly. I couldn't sleep or eat or drive, and I couldn't put into words exactly what I was feeling. I slept through classes. I ignored my friends. I thought I would end up in a loony bin. Dawn's essay articulated the things I have never been able to about what it means to have obsessive thoughts about death. I cried while I was reading it because I always thought I was the only one with these crazy thoughts.In "Fear of Flying", Dawn writes about that thing that all moms do - imagine the most horrific, upsetting things happening to your children. I have never met a mom who didn't do this, and I have never met a dad who didn't think it was crazy. When my daughter was a newborn, I would lie in bed and imagine that there was a hornet's nest in the attic over her bed, and that the ceiling would rot away and the nest would fall on my sleeping daughter. I imagined a snake crawling into our home and eating her, and I would have to cut it open to pull her out. I would imagine her getting bitten by a spider and having a freak allergic reaction. Furniture falling on her, choking on food, drowning in the bathtub, being decapitated in an accident, falling and striking her head on the corner of a table, a zombie apocalypse wherein I was unable to keep her quiet. The list was endless, and usually irrational. I know now that I was suffering from a severe case of postpartum depression, which caused me to live in a bubble of fear of something happening to this tiny, delicate thing that I had given life to. I knew most of my fears were nuts but I couldn't stop them. Dawn's husband offered her no support. I had none either, except that I was fortunate enough to have a psychiatrist who recognized my fears for what they were.In the title essay, Dawn's bravest, she discusses what it's like to have a child with autism who also has more than a passing interest in child pornography. Dawn lays herself bare and expresses feelings I'm sure many parents have had but would never admit - would the world be better off without my child in it? It's a cruel, hard question without a good answer, no matter what kind of behavior your child engages in. I was touched and saddened by this essay, and I found myself wondering what I would do if I were in her situation. It's not an easy thing to have to ask yourself, and you really may not like the answer.Overall, this collection of essays was amazing. I connected to Dawn very deeply and I was able to see myself in her, even when she was writing about things I've never personally experienced. I hope there is more to come from her.I received this book through Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Tonstant Weader
    January 1, 1970
    Dawn Davies describes her Mothers of Sparta as a “memoir in pieces,” an excellent way of describing this collection of essays that taken together share many important elements in her life. I think many women will recognize themselves in the fierceness of Davies’ maternal love, the joy, the pride, the sacrifice, and the pain. In some of these essays, she scrapes herself raw to tell the honest story of her life.Davies captured my heart with the first paragraph of the first essay, “NIght Swim” desc Dawn Davies describes her Mothers of Sparta as a “memoir in pieces,” an excellent way of describing this collection of essays that taken together share many important elements in her life. I think many women will recognize themselves in the fierceness of Davies’ maternal love, the joy, the pride, the sacrifice, and the pain. In some of these essays, she scrapes herself raw to tell the honest story of her life.Davies captured my heart with the first paragraph of the first essay, “NIght Swim” describing the oppressive heat where “a deep breath leaves you unsatisfied, suspicious there is nothing life-giving at all in what you’ve inhaled, and you are left air-hungry…” Wow, if you have even spent a miserable hot, humid summer day trying to breathe hot air thick with moisture, you know exactly what that feels like. She brings that kind of detailed and honest observation to everything, to much more significant things than the humidity.She writes about what it was like to move and move and move again as a child, about pregnancy, post-partum depression, raising children, divorce, being a soccer mom, and raising a child who is profoundly disabled and disturbed.The title essay, “Mothers of Sparta” left me emotionally wrecked. Her son is diagnosed with autism and there was a constant struggle to get the schools to meet his needs, particularly since ignorant educators would assume that since he didn’t “look” disabled, he must be recalcitrant, stubborn, or disrespectful. Shockingly, autism was the easy part. In his teens, he gets a far more devastating diagnosis, one that will break your heart for him and his family. It was painful to read. It was certainly far more painful for Davies to write and even more painful to live.I enjoyed Mothers of Sparta a lot. Many of the essays are stories of an ordinary life made extraordinary by Davies’ prose and insight. She writes an essay about baking a pie–humorous in many ways, but also one that gives insight into the exhaustion and fog of post-partum depression. Another story about ordering a custom-made dress over the internet is also a story about letting your children make their own mistakes, and what men sometimes demand of women. There is one essay, “Men I Would Have Slept With” is funny enough, but too silly, an odd duck when measured against the rest of her essays. I highly recommend this book.Mothers of Sparta will be released on January 30th. I received an Advance Reading Copy from the publisher through a Shelf Awareness drawing.“A Piece of Pie” – a free excerpt from Mothers of Sparta at Flatiron Books | MacmillanMothers of Sparta at Flatiron Books | MacmillanDawn Davies author sitehttps://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpre...
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  • Christie
    January 1, 1970
    So this is more of a 3.5 star book for me, but I'm going to round up. I really enjoyed diving into the author's life, at different stages, through some really lovely writing. Although I'm not a mother and didn't connect directly to the author's experiences in motherhood, I appreciated her vulnerable, fans accounting of things that happened. I also appreciate hearing about someone else's battle with kidney stones, and learning about fostering animals, however hapless. I also did enjoy how she wro So this is more of a 3.5 star book for me, but I'm going to round up. I really enjoyed diving into the author's life, at different stages, through some really lovely writing. Although I'm not a mother and didn't connect directly to the author's experiences in motherhood, I appreciated her vulnerable, fans accounting of things that happened. I also appreciate hearing about someone else's battle with kidney stones, and learning about fostering animals, however hapless. I also did enjoy how she wrote "The Dress", which was a lovely, heartbreaking story, from the two perspectives. And then the short story that bears the same title as the book. Man, that one made me think (and of course was also beautiful and heartbreaking).There were some stories that I didn't enjoy as much, that seemed to break up my feeling of really living in this author's writing. One chapter talks about divorce and remarriage in kind of a choppy way, while another is just a list of men the author thinks she should have slept with. I think I could have done without that (even if it's subconsciously a list many of us keep). And the chapter about a murderous dog (following his instincts, I guess) and a constant stream of living chew toys was a little hard to stomach (although it ended bittersweetly, almost making up for the pages describing the violence inflicted upon poor innocent hamsters and birds).
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  • Leah
    January 1, 1970
    This book isn't a funny or happy go lucky memoir. Rather, this book is at times funny, at times heart-breaking, at times hard to read, and always very real. It is a memoir about those times and struggles that we all go through, and those times you dearly hope no one you love ever has to go through. This book isn't for someone just looking for a light easy read, but it is beautifully written and worth every second. I thought this book was going to be a great carrying book, (ie one that I could re This book isn't a funny or happy go lucky memoir. Rather, this book is at times funny, at times heart-breaking, at times hard to read, and always very real. It is a memoir about those times and struggles that we all go through, and those times you dearly hope no one you love ever has to go through. This book isn't for someone just looking for a light easy read, but it is beautifully written and worth every second. I thought this book was going to be a great carrying book, (ie one that I could read while waiting for this or that) but after a few stories, and some slightly embarrassing tears at the physical therapists office, I realized that this book was too honest to be read anywhere public. Dawn Davies pulls no punches in the reflections of her life and family. She pulls you in and drags you right with her through every moment. In fact it wasn't until I read the acknowledgements at the end of the book that I realized that she never mentions her families names, it is always mother/daughter/husband/son. I felt like I was so much a part of the story, that it didn't occur to me that I didn't actually know anyone but Dawn. *I received this book for free through the Good Reads First Reads program, but my review is honest and mine alone.
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  • Ruthie
    January 1, 1970
    Mothers of Sparta is a series of essays that form a memoir. Dawn Davies offers glimpses into her life at various crucial moments. Some funny incidents are included, but overall the tone is of despair, anger, loneliness and frustration. Davies writes in both the first and second person, and for me this was a problem. Many times while reading I felt like I was listening to a very long “voice-over”, the type offered T.V shows such as Grey’s Anatomy – and it became tiresome. Often Davies went off on Mothers of Sparta is a series of essays that form a memoir. Dawn Davies offers glimpses into her life at various crucial moments. Some funny incidents are included, but overall the tone is of despair, anger, loneliness and frustration. Davies writes in both the first and second person, and for me this was a problem. Many times while reading I felt like I was listening to a very long “voice-over”, the type offered T.V shows such as Grey’s Anatomy – and it became tiresome. Often Davies went off on tangents, some so long that I forgot what she had originally been writing about. Some of the essays, most specifically the Title story were brilliant; sharp, pointed and searing. Others seem to be meandering thoughts going nowhere. I wish I had read them in intervals, reading more than one or two at a sitting diluted the whole. I also found that the cover blurb misrepresented the content – quotes like “Davies…couldn’t care less about anyone’s potty-training programs…” made it sound like a non-fiction version of “Where Did You Go Bernadette” or some other snarky mom writing – and it most definitely is not! Davies has dealt with many hardships while raising her children and none of it sounded like fun. Powerful essays, but best taken in small doses and with forewarning
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  • Benjamin Bookman
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. This book took some turns. No spoilers, I promise, but the chapter that forms the basis for the title is a clear game changer. At first I was a little annoyed that so much was left for the very end, but I have come to realize that it was in a way probably for the best. Not only for the author, but for the reader. I suspect my perceptions would have been dramatically altered if this had been written differently. That being said, I wish that chapter had been longer, as I know there is so much Wow. This book took some turns. No spoilers, I promise, but the chapter that forms the basis for the title is a clear game changer. At first I was a little annoyed that so much was left for the very end, but I have come to realize that it was in a way probably for the best. Not only for the author, but for the reader. I suspect my perceptions would have been dramatically altered if this had been written differently. That being said, I wish that chapter had been longer, as I know there is so much more readers could learn from it. In general, I didn’t love the constant switching of person and tense (I really dislike second person narration), and there were chapters that I struggled with and somewhat skimmed (I really don’t care to know all the who and why of who the author would sleep with, at all). I suspect that I would have given the book 3 stars if it didn’t include the Mother of Sparta chapter. But that piece alone was worth reading the rest of the book.
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  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    3.5/5 I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway. I'm torn on this one. It was a well-written quick read and the author's life is interesting, but I can't get over the fact that she was the cause of death for 4 hamsters and 4 (?) pet birds. I know, a weird thing to fixate on, but it bothered me in a memoir about being an mom who would do anything for her kids (but not their pets?). Anyway, the title essay deals with heavy stuff, so you've been warned. It is very well done and I'm curiou 3.5/5 I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway. I'm torn on this one. It was a well-written quick read and the author's life is interesting, but I can't get over the fact that she was the cause of death for 4 hamsters and 4 (?) pet birds. I know, a weird thing to fixate on, but it bothered me in a memoir about being an mom who would do anything for her kids (but not their pets?). Anyway, the title essay deals with heavy stuff, so you've been warned. It is very well done and I'm curious if things have changed since the book was printed. I do think a lot of people will identify with her stories. I really enjoyed reading about her nomad childhood, time in Boston, post-divorce poverty, the story about her engaged daughter... But the tone shift from mildly funny to super serious (and so many medical/gory details along the way) was a bit much for me, personally. At the end of the day, I appreciate her honesty and I'm glad I read it!
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  • lisa
    January 1, 1970
    I won this ARC from a giveaway by the publisher listed on Shelf Awareness. I knew nothing about it going in, and while I admired the writing, the underlying tone was so pathetic, and sad, and desperate, that I ended up not liking it. I think Dawn Davies was trying to draw humor out of her sad experiences, and someone else reading this may find her pieces funny, but I did not. From witnessing a young woman get hit by a truck, to being left with three young children by her husband, to realizing he I won this ARC from a giveaway by the publisher listed on Shelf Awareness. I knew nothing about it going in, and while I admired the writing, the underlying tone was so pathetic, and sad, and desperate, that I ended up not liking it. I think Dawn Davies was trying to draw humor out of her sad experiences, and someone else reading this may find her pieces funny, but I did not. From witnessing a young woman get hit by a truck, to being left with three young children by her husband, to realizing her son's physical and mental health issues, Davies's world is filled with illness, death, and abandonment. I felt terrible for her. However, the writing was very good, and it made it easier to swallow the sadness that seeped from these pages.Also, I hope her son makes it through life without causing too much destruction.
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  • Nicole Wagner
    January 1, 1970
    This is a memoir, presented in chapters that present as short stories but read like excerpts from a woman's diary over the decades of her life from childhood up to middle age. This book took me to some deep places emotionally, as a girl, as a mother, as an animal lover, as a student of history and sociology, as someone who has had my heart broken and laughed at the same time. It surprised me with its intensity. I am tempted to reread it, but it won't have the same effect twice. In life, going th This is a memoir, presented in chapters that present as short stories but read like excerpts from a woman's diary over the decades of her life from childhood up to middle age. This book took me to some deep places emotionally, as a girl, as a mother, as an animal lover, as a student of history and sociology, as someone who has had my heart broken and laughed at the same time. It surprised me with its intensity. I am tempted to reread it, but it won't have the same effect twice. In life, going through a thing and looking back on it later feel the same, but we can never truly relive an important experience. HIGHLY recommended.
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  • Juju
    January 1, 1970
    Let me start off by saying I read every book sent to me. I started mothers of Sparta and even though I had never heard of the author I still gave it a chance. I have no idea why this book was published. I learned no great lessons and it was just a lot of this authors irrational fears. When it got to the chapter called “Men I Would Have Slept With” and then proceeded to list 45 men she would have slept with and why I put it down and refused to read any more. This is an odd book and I feel I waste Let me start off by saying I read every book sent to me. I started mothers of Sparta and even though I had never heard of the author I still gave it a chance. I have no idea why this book was published. I learned no great lessons and it was just a lot of this authors irrational fears. When it got to the chapter called “Men I Would Have Slept With” and then proceeded to list 45 men she would have slept with and why I put it down and refused to read any more. This is an odd book and I feel I wasted time reading it.
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  •  Eileen
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars I read so many books that I honestly don't remember a lot of them. This book, however, I will remember because of some of the stories the author told. There was one story in the book that I thought was unnecessary, but all of the other ones were sad, funny and memorable. Some people are fans of short stories and I am not really one of them - but I liked this book. I do wish that Dawn Davies had written a complete memoir because I want to know how some of the events in her stories worke 4.5 stars I read so many books that I honestly don't remember a lot of them. This book, however, I will remember because of some of the stories the author told. There was one story in the book that I thought was unnecessary, but all of the other ones were sad, funny and memorable. Some people are fans of short stories and I am not really one of them - but I liked this book. I do wish that Dawn Davies had written a complete memoir because I want to know how some of the events in her stories worked out.
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  • Lee
    January 1, 1970
    Two books written as one. Fine author with a nack for neat descriptions and a flair for humor. The chapters do not follow in chronological order but are snippets from a full life, be it single, as a single mother or as a family. Some sections I heartily recommend but I have reservations about others but worth the time spent reading.
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  • Miller Wallace
    January 1, 1970
    Mothers of Sparta was a book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. This memoir was not sugarcoated and it described life with honesty- the good, the bad, and the ugly. It appealed to me in particular due to my state in life (thirty something married mom). It is definitely a book worth reading - any mom can relate and will appreciate this book.
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  • Jim
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book on Goodreads. An interesting look into the author's life. From her personal struggles, to issues with her family and witnessing a young woman's death. This is a honest peek through the eyes of the author.
  • Mandie
    January 1, 1970
    You know when you read something and the way it’s written warms your soul? This book was my something. Laughter, tears, shock, and knowing “those feels” were just the tip of the emotional roller coaster these stories put you on. I would gladly ride this ride again.
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  • Jodi Malec
    January 1, 1970
    This was the first giveaway book that I won. It is collection of essays describing pieces of the authors life. I loved it! So very honest and relatable. I laughed and cried... Such a great read.
  • Liz Bartek
    January 1, 1970
    Humorous at times and incredibly moving when serious. I look forward to seeing the well-deserved attention this memoir will receive.
  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    A Memoir in PiecesDawn Davies has put together an outstanding selection of vignettes from her life - the memoir in pieces, called "Mothers of Sparta." Only one of the pieces refers to the ancient Greek city-state of Sparta, but Davies compares and contrasts some of its methodology for raising warriors to her own very personal struggles raising an autistic son. Her writing feels honest and straightforward with well-turned phrases and true emotion. I truly enjoyed reading this book and would certa A Memoir in PiecesDawn Davies has put together an outstanding selection of vignettes from her life - the memoir in pieces, called "Mothers of Sparta." Only one of the pieces refers to the ancient Greek city-state of Sparta, but Davies compares and contrasts some of its methodology for raising warriors to her own very personal struggles raising an autistic son. Her writing feels honest and straightforward with well-turned phrases and true emotion. I truly enjoyed reading this book and would certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoys memoirs of the not-rich and not-famous. I would be a great discussion selection for a reading group.
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  • Patricia Smith
    January 1, 1970
    One of the best books I've read in a long time! Dawn Davies is a smart, insightful, brave, and very funny writer. This collection of essays had me laughing out loud and simultaneously holding my breath. For anyone who has raised children or knows someone who has raised children-- this book is for you. MOTHERS OF SPARTA is an unflinching look at one mother's experience. It is an exceptional debut memoir, lyrically written and told with gut-punch honesty.
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