The Fixed Stars
From a bestselling memoirist, a thoughtful and provocative story of changing identity, complex sexuality, and enduring family relationships   At age 36, while serving on a jury, author Molly Wizenberg found herself drawn to a female attorney she hardly knew. Married to a man for nearly a decade and mother to a toddler, Wizenberg tried to return to her life as she knew it, but something inside her had changed irredeemably. Instead, she would discover that the trajectory of our lives is rarely as smooth or as logical as we’d like to believe.   Like many of us, Wizenberg had long understood sexual orientation as a stable part of ourselves: we’re “born this way.” Suddenly she realized that her story was more complicated. Who was she, she wondered, if something at her very core could change so radically? The Fixed Stars is a taut, electrifying memoir exploring timely and timeless questions about desire, identity, and the limits and possibilities of family. In honest and searing prose, Wizenberg forges a new path: through the murk of separation and divorce, coming out to family and friends, learning to co-parent a young child, and realizing a new vision of love. The result is a frank and moving story about letting go of rigid definitions and ideals that no longer fit, and learning instead who we really are.  

The Fixed Stars Details

TitleThe Fixed Stars
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 4th, 2020
PublisherAbrams Press
ISBN-139781419742996
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, LGBT

The Fixed Stars Review

  • Christine
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars rounded to 5 starsI rarely read memoirs, but this one called to me. The Fixed Stars is a very frank and absorbing account of Ms. Wizenberg’s painful yet steadfast journey to find herself at the age of 37.After ten years of marriage to her best friend and father (Brandon) of her only child (June), Molly is awakened by a very unexpected draw towards a lesbian attorney while serving jury duty. Over the next year, Molly and Brandon try valiantly to make things work within new parameters. U 4.5 stars rounded to 5 starsI rarely read memoirs, but this one called to me. The Fixed Stars is a very frank and absorbing account of Ms. Wizenberg’s painful yet steadfast journey to find herself at the age of 37.After ten years of marriage to her best friend and father (Brandon) of her only child (June), Molly is awakened by a very unexpected draw towards a lesbian attorney while serving jury duty. Over the next year, Molly and Brandon try valiantly to make things work within new parameters. Unfortunately for Brandon, he is at a disadvantage as Molly, for the most part, has put aside her dreams in order to help Brandon achieve his and is more than ready to change course. I was really impressed with Molly. She puts her heart and soul, sweat and tears into discovering who she is, what her goals are and how to achieve them. She takes Brandon to therapy and tries everything in her power to see if they can do this together and makes sure Brandon is as okay as possible throughout her trek to explore her own needs. I especially liked how she made sure her small daughter understands the basics of what is happening and remains an essentially well-adjusted kid. Molly is willing to open herself up to many people during her journey and just lays it all out there. How many of us can do that? She deeply researched her issues and includes many excellent references in a bibliography at the back of the book.Molly’s story is intimate, brave and inspiring. She is also an author by trade, and her writing style is excellent. Though it is nonfiction, it reads easily as if it were a novel. And for other avid readers similar to me who like to be educated while reading for pleasure, there is opportunity to learn much about gender fluidity. I highly recommend this memoir to all interested in reading about a fascinating journey in self-discovery and also those who want to learn more about gender identity. Beautiful job, Ms. Wizenberg!I’d like to thank Net Galley, Abrams Press, and Ms. Molly Wizenberg for an ARC of this book. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way.
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  • Jenne
    January 1, 1970
    You know how when someone you sort of know has a really unexpected breakup, and you desperately want to ask them for all the details but that would be rude?This book is like if that person showed up on your doorstep with a LARGE bottle of whiskey and proceeded to tell you exactly what went down.
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  • Jessica Woodbury
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 stars. There are two questions I always consider first and foremost when reading memoir. The first is whether the writer has enough distance from the thing they are writing about. It is possible to write about a recent time in your life, but it is extremely rare to do it well. (And when you do it well you have to make the recency of it work for you, to make it more visceral, more focused and fine-tuned.) The second is whether the writer has enough to write about at all. This is a trickier qu 2.5 stars. There are two questions I always consider first and foremost when reading memoir. The first is whether the writer has enough distance from the thing they are writing about. It is possible to write about a recent time in your life, but it is extremely rare to do it well. (And when you do it well you have to make the recency of it work for you, to make it more visceral, more focused and fine-tuned.) The second is whether the writer has enough to write about at all. This is a trickier question because it may seem like a large event should be plenty. But somehow the biggest things in life, the things that are giant from your own perspective, can feel boring on the page. All of literature is marriage and breakups and motherhood. It is not so easy to take something people have read thousands of times before and make it feel new and urgent and unique. Again, it is possible to write about something small and specific, but you have to open it up and make the reader feel it or see it in a way that feels new.For me, this book fails on both counts. Wizenberg feels far too close to everything that happened to have much perspective on it. It feels more like she is in the act of working through it and figuring it out, more therapy session than book. It seems likely that she could write another memoir about the exact same series of events ten years from now and it would be an entirely different book (and I suspect a better one). Not every story, no matter how deeply you feel it, is ready to be a memoir. Love is overwhelming. Being a mother, going through a divorce, they are such big things. But they can also be quite boring on the page. They can feel lifeless without the right perspective and the right prose. Memoir can be an act of emotional violence to other people in your life. Good memoir about painful topics and difficult relationships requires the ability to be as honest about the other people in your life as you are about yourself. This book is not. She is kind to her ex-husband, kind to her current partner, and these relationships feel empty. In contrast, her first relationship with a woman is shown with much more clarity and spark. Which makes the other two only more limp by comparison. And because that relationship happens in tandem with her marriage and separation, it is immediately uneven. With her first girlfriend, we get the best parts of the book. We get details, we get frustrations. We follow Wizenberg as she charges into a new kind of sex, and then when she has made only a little progress, the story ends. We get almost nothing about sexual exploration with her next partner and we have almost nothing about her sexual history with her husband. We don't get enough context for the story, there is no beginning and no end, just this middle without introduction or resolution. I am not the audience for this book. I realized this after a while, realized that part of why I had trouble connecting to it is that it is not for me. Who is it for? Straight women, I think. It feels almost like an apology, an explanation, an attempt to lay out why she was once one of them and no longer is. It spends an awful lot of time defining and explaining. For much of the story she writes about queer people as if we are another species, tells stories of when and how she has seen us in the wild, wants to lay out the boundaries of what we are. Some of this is an attempt to explain herself, to try to figure out why she did not see herself as one of us before. That I can understand. I was not the kind of queer who knew it when I was 6. But there is still a remove that stays in place for the entire book where she does not ever see herself as joining a community as much as staking out some other territory altogether. You would think that I, a queer woman who has also gone through a divorce from a man that led to me getting to explore my queerness more fully, would find much to relate to here but instead I found almost nothing at all. At the end of the day, it does not matter to me if you have explained sexual fluidity as a thing that exists and has been documented. It matters whether you have showed me how it feels, and I never got to that point.The style here is, I admit, not my preference. It is loose and little of it is rooted in actual moments, instead it is more rooting around bigger, vaguer feelings. Wizenberg is working through these big, difficult changes while also figuring out her own identity. But the times when she stops her own story to quote someone else, to summarize someone's research in sexuality or gender, it doesn't lift the story. Perhaps it is helpful to her to see herself clearly, but it does not help the reader. It is also troubling to have yet another book where a cis woman explains to us how her trans partner defines themself. (Similarly there are times when she explains to us how divorce generally penalizes women financially more than men, but her privilege means it wasn't like that for her, etc.) As much as it may not sound like it here, I like reading about queer experiences that are different from mine. I like exploring the breadth of our community and the way our other identities intersect with our queerness. But I never felt like I saw anything more clearly in this book. I did not understand Wizenberg any better when it was over. And to be quite honest I'm not sure I would have finished it if I didn't already know who she was from reading her blog decades ago. The queer community has been hesitant to accept fluidity and a lack of labels, it is not always willing to expand boundaries, but this book doesn't do much to open up that conversation. But then again, it isn't really for us.
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  • Lauren
    January 1, 1970
    I’d have to do some serious math to remember when I started reading Orangette, @molly.wizenberg’s blog, but a dozen years? I definitely read her memoir A Homemade Life while living in Harlem (2009) as I have vivid memories of reading it in my corner laundromat and I remember reading an ARC of Delancey at Sit and Wonder the very month that I got married. This preamble is just to say that I’ve been invested in her storytelling for a while. I was so excited to read her latest memoir which is, in br I’d have to do some serious math to remember when I started reading Orangette, @molly.wizenberg’s blog, but a dozen years? I definitely read her memoir A Homemade Life while living in Harlem (2009) as I have vivid memories of reading it in my corner laundromat and I remember reading an ARC of Delancey at Sit and Wonder the very month that I got married. This preamble is just to say that I’ve been invested in her storytelling for a while. I was so excited to read her latest memoir which is, in broad strokes, a departure from her previous works which centered around food. That said, Wizenberg is always circling the self, family, friends, loved ones—everyone with whom you share a drink or meal. Her voice is so warm that the reader always feels like a confidant. Rather than provide much in the way of plot summary, I’ll just say that at age 36, married for many years and a mother for several years, Wizenberg found that her sexual orientation had shifted. This awareness was the first of many shifts that lead to a thorough re-evaluation of her history and what she thought of as her self. When I first learned that Wizenberg had gone through this experience (which I read about on her blog; I miss it still), I thought to myself, “Thank goodness Maggie Nelson wrote THE ARGONAUTS so that Molly could read it!” And now I can say thank goodness Molly wrote THE FIXED STARS which is a rigorous and passionate investigation into the real marrow of how we know ourselves and how we weather the inevitable changes of our lives. Changes in desire, in identity, in companionship, needs (small and expansive). This book was an avid reminder to me that conversation is vital to the health of any relationship and that we don’t make mistakes as long as we are clear about our needs—even when we’re not entirely sure what they are. The talking will help us get there, together. If you see me, I’m sure we’ll be talking about this.
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  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    By contrast with her other two memoirs (especially A Homemade Life, one of my favorite books), this was an uncomfortable read. For one thing, it unpicks the fairy tale of what looked like a pretty ideal marriage and entrepreneurial partnership in Delancey. In the summer of 2015, Wizenberg was summoned for jury duty and found herself fascinated by one of the defense attorneys, a woman named Nora who wore a man’s suit and a butch haircut. The author had always considered herself straight, had neve By contrast with her other two memoirs (especially A Homemade Life, one of my favorite books), this was an uncomfortable read. For one thing, it unpicks the fairy tale of what looked like a pretty ideal marriage and entrepreneurial partnership in Delancey. In the summer of 2015, Wizenberg was summoned for jury duty and found herself fascinated by one of the defense attorneys, a woman named Nora who wore a man’s suit and a butch haircut. The author had always considered herself straight, had never been attracted to a woman before, but this crush wouldn’t go away. She and her husband Brandon tried an open marriage so that she could date Nora and he could see other people, too, but it didn’t work out. Brandon didn’t want her to fall in love with anyone else, but that was just what was happening.Wizenberg announced her coming-out and her separation from Brandon on her blog, so I was aware of all this for the last few years and via Instagram followed what came next. So I knew that her new spouse is a non-binary person named Ash Choi who was born female but had top surgery to remove their breasts. (At first I was assumed Nora was an alias for Ash, but they are actually different characters. After things broke down with Nora, a mutual friend set her up with Ash.) The other source of discomfort for me here was the explicit descriptions of her lovemaking with Nora – her initiation into lesbian sex – though she draws a veil over this with Ash.I’m not sure if the intimate details were strictly necessary, but I reminded myself that a memoir is a person’s impressions of what they’ve done and what has happened to them, molded into a meaningful shape. Wizenberg clearly felt a need to dig for the why of her transformation, and her answers range from her early knowledge of homosexuality (an uncle who died of AIDS) to her frustrations about her life with Brandon (theirs really was a happy enough marriage, and a markedly amicable divorce, but had its niggles, like any partnership).I appreciated that, ultimately, Wizenberg leaves her experience unlabeled. She acknowledges that hers is a messy story, but an honest one. While she entertains several possibilities – Was she a closeted lesbian all along? Or was she bisexual? Can sexual orientation change? – she finds out that sexual fluidity is common in women, and that all queer families are unique. An obvious comparison is with Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, which is a bit more profound and original. But the mourning for her marriage and the anguish over what she was doing to her daughter are strong elements alongside the examination of sexuality. The overarching metaphor of star maps is effective and reminded me of Constellations by Sinéad Gleeson.There were points in the narrative where I was afraid the author would resort to pat answers about what was ‘meant to be’ or to depicting villains versus heroic actions, but instead she treats this all just as something that happened and that all involved coped with as best they could, hopefully making something better in the end. It’s sensitively told and, while inevitably different from her other work and perhaps a bit troubling for some, well worth reading for anyone who’s been surprised where life has led.Originally published on my blog, Bookish Beck.(I read an advanced e-copy from Abrams Press via Edelweiss. A Kindle edition came out on May 12th, but the hardback release has been pushed back to August 4th.)
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  • EB Fitzsimons
    January 1, 1970
    One doesn't need to be familiar with Wizenberg's older memoirs to be both crushed and elated by her newest, in which she recounts how she fell in love with a woman after ten years of marriage to a man. Her thoughtful reflections on the fluidity of gender, love, sexuality, motherhood, and self shows how successfully she's transitioned to the role of author and reminds me how important bloggers are: they chronicle ordinary stories in extraordinary ways and show us that our own lives, too, are beau One doesn't need to be familiar with Wizenberg's older memoirs to be both crushed and elated by her newest, in which she recounts how she fell in love with a woman after ten years of marriage to a man. Her thoughtful reflections on the fluidity of gender, love, sexuality, motherhood, and self shows how successfully she's transitioned to the role of author and reminds me how important bloggers are: they chronicle ordinary stories in extraordinary ways and show us that our own lives, too, are beautiful and worth celebrating.
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  • Katharine
    January 1, 1970
    Having not read either of Wizenberg's previous two memoirs, I went into this not knowing much. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her and how she came to be who she is today. And as white, straight, cisgender woman, I also found everything she learned and all the research she shared about gender and sexuality very informative and eye opening. She shared her story with honest self reflection and I admire the way she's worked so hard to create a life that feels true to herself, not matter how ha Having not read either of Wizenberg's previous two memoirs, I went into this not knowing much. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her and how she came to be who she is today. And as white, straight, cisgender woman, I also found everything she learned and all the research she shared about gender and sexuality very informative and eye opening. She shared her story with honest self reflection and I admire the way she's worked so hard to create a life that feels true to herself, not matter how hard or different that may be from what she thought it would look like.Thank you to Abrams for providing me with a free review copy. All opinions are my own.
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  • Katie Stroble
    January 1, 1970
    While perusing goodreads reviews of this book before I started it, I found a review that compared this book to a friend showing up to your house with a bottle of whisky, ready to spill all the dirt on how and why her marriage ended. And in a way, I completely agree. Molly writes in a way that is totally candid, and feels as though I'm listening to my best friend fill me in on her life and her emotions. It felt deeply personal and raw and trusting - Molly held nothing back, not the good, not the While perusing goodreads reviews of this book before I started it, I found a review that compared this book to a friend showing up to your house with a bottle of whisky, ready to spill all the dirt on how and why her marriage ended. And in a way, I completely agree. Molly writes in a way that is totally candid, and feels as though I'm listening to my best friend fill me in on her life and her emotions. It felt deeply personal and raw and trusting - Molly held nothing back, not the good, not the bad, and definitely not the ugly. And for that I appreciated her. But at the same time, that review of the book does it a disservice, because this was so much more than a steamy tell all brimming with salacious and gossipy details. It was an exploration of gender and sex and sexuality and how we express these things and what they mean, and how they differ from person to person. It was filled with snippets from writers who have written about these topics and from scientists who have studied it, And it opened up my eyes to the fluidity of feminine sexuality and how, regardless of how you "categorize" yourself, it is a deeply personal endeavor and there are no wrong answers.
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  • Rachael
    January 1, 1970
    You and a friend that you haven’t seen in a while get together to discuss how life has changed since you last saw each other. You listen intently to her story, unable to break from her words. You listen to your friend confess her most personal discretions, confuse her sexual orientation, change her identity, shatter her marriage, challenge the restrictions of love and attempt to keep her daughter neutral and aloof.You do nothing but listen.This was how my day seemed to unfold reading cover to co You and a friend that you haven’t seen in a while get together to discuss how life has changed since you last saw each other. You listen intently to her story, unable to break from her words. You listen to your friend confess her most personal discretions, confuse her sexual orientation, change her identity, shatter her marriage, challenge the restrictions of love and attempt to keep her daughter neutral and aloof.You do nothing but listen.This was how my day seemed to unfold reading cover to cover of The Fixed Stars. It was mesmerizing, absorbing and thoughtful. It needed a bottle of wine.
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  • Erica Bauermeister
    January 1, 1970
    In THE FIXED STARS Molly Wizenberg tackles the ever-shifting issues of marriage, motherhood, and sexual orientation with the same compassion and unflinching honesty that have become the hallmarks of her writing. In every book, she has made the everyday extraordinary, and brought depth and complexity to the bigger questions in life. THE FIXED STARS carries on this tradition and takes it to a whole new level. A beautiful read.
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  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    Although I have not read Molly's previous works, I have been an avid listener of the podcast, Spilled Milk, which she hosts with her good friend, Matthew Amster-Burton. After listening to over 400 episodes of the two of them banter about food, reminisce about their childhoods, and share snippets of their current lives, they feel like old friends to me. Although they don't go into great detail about their personal lives, I did pick up on the fact that Molly was no longer with her husband and ofte Although I have not read Molly's previous works, I have been an avid listener of the podcast, Spilled Milk, which she hosts with her good friend, Matthew Amster-Burton. After listening to over 400 episodes of the two of them banter about food, reminisce about their childhoods, and share snippets of their current lives, they feel like old friends to me. Although they don't go into great detail about their personal lives, I did pick up on the fact that Molly was no longer with her husband and often mentioned her partner Ash. I was extremely curious about how that came about, and when I heard about this book, I added it to my wishlist immediately. As eloquent and witty Molly is on her podcast, her writing style is even more impressive, both exquisite and beautifully paced. Her descriptions and dialogue are evocative, bringing me right into the moment with her. Molly details the story of her marriage; the love, care, and mutual respect they had for one another, along with the complexities that can bring relationships to an end. Even when all the intentions are good, the outcome does not always come about the way you expect it to. She also divulges the struggles she had with becoming a mother, how big of a learning curve it is, how lonely it is, and how it changes everything. Reading this book was like having a heart to heart talk with an old friend. Molly speaks about her marriage with honesty and candor, revealing doubts that many have about their spouses but few are willing to admit. In her struggle to examine her relationship with her husband and her daughter, her identity, and her sexuality, she grapples with finding out who she truly is at a later stage of her life, a time at which she is supposed to have figured herself out already. Molly references quotes from writers and books often; passages that she feels accurately represent the feelings she is experiencing. Recognizing some of these authors and works very much appealed to my bookish side and brought a sense of familiarity to this intimate and revealing memoir.
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  • R.J. Sorrento
    January 1, 1970
    When I’m done crying, I’ll draft my review. Simply gorgeous, brave, and raw. Full review to be posted on my blog in April. Thanks NetGalley for the ARC.Updated review: April 8, 2020The Fixed Stars is a memoir by Molly Wizenberg that I couldn’t stop reading. I’ve read memoirs before, but this one felt like a novel with vivid sensory details and raw emotional scenes. Wizenberg’s words flowed from her heart and onto the pages while sharing a deeply personal glimpse into her life.Not only is it hone When I’m done crying, I’ll draft my review. Simply gorgeous, brave, and raw. Full review to be posted on my blog in April. Thanks NetGalley for the ARC.Updated review: April 8, 2020The Fixed Stars is a memoir by Molly Wizenberg that I couldn’t stop reading. I’ve read memoirs before, but this one felt like a novel with vivid sensory details and raw emotional scenes. Wizenberg’s words flowed from her heart and onto the pages while sharing a deeply personal glimpse into her life.Not only is it honest, brave, and raw but Wizenberg demonstrates how sexuality, especially for women, has the potential to be fluid rather than fixed from birth.To read more of my review visit: https://www.rjsorrento.com/blog//book...The Fixed Stars is an emotional reading journey that will open your eyes to a fresh perspective on sexuality, relationships, and gender. I highly recommend this memoir from Molly Wizenberg. 5 stars.Note: I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    Beautifully written, achingly honest, and incredibly brave. I loved this insightful look into what it’s like to question the very essence of yourself. I think this book will prove a comfort and be helpful to so many people struggling with similar questions, and a thoughtful take on the fluidity of our sexualities regardless of whether or not they have questions of their own.
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  • Tamara
    January 1, 1970
    I discovered Molly Wizenberg's blog, Orangette, sometime during college. I remember thinking how much I wanted to be like her. I remember her writing about Brandon asking her to marry him and moving cross country to start their life together. I remember the beautiful way she described food, and the way her food blog was really about so much more than food. I was pounding away at my undergrad thesis and on the other side of the country, here was a full blown person with an adult life, captured in I discovered Molly Wizenberg's blog, Orangette, sometime during college. I remember thinking how much I wanted to be like her. I remember her writing about Brandon asking her to marry him and moving cross country to start their life together. I remember the beautiful way she described food, and the way her food blog was really about so much more than food. I was pounding away at my undergrad thesis and on the other side of the country, here was a full blown person with an adult life, captured in moody, grainy film photos and achingly beautiful phrases.Since then, I've grown up. I've checked in on the blog and Molly Wizenberg intermittently over the years, but I actually never read any of her memoirs until The Fixed Stars. There's that eternal question of when someone has lived enough to write a memoir. In this case, the author is in her earlier forties, but The Fixed Stars is her third memoir. Before I really dove into the book, I wondered whether she would really have anything poignant to say, but I quickly learned it's not the number of years in one's life that give perspective, but their experiences and willingness to poke into the good and bad parts, despite the discomfort. As the author recounts, she has spent a lot of time (and money) on therapy, doing important self-reflection that she shares with us.The Fixed Stars is an incredibly candid account of a woman at a point of immense change, discovering her sexuality, leaving her husband, and figuring out who she is in the midst of this turmoil. Somehow, based on her blog and Internet presence, I would have told you that the writer is circumspect and a bit private, but y'all, in this book, she. spills. the. tea. Another reviewer said this book is like if a friend of yours went through a breakup and came over with a bottle of wine to tell you all the dirty details. And it is, but the book is also a lot more. It's a meditation on becoming who you are, the changes we all go through throughout our life -- even if not as dramatic as those described here, none of us are the person we used to be. Molly Wizenberg helps us make sense of how to accept the crappy side that comes with this eternal shedding of layers.When I was little, I figured that as I grew older everything that happened before would become water under the bridge. I guess I assumed my memories would fade and I would morph into a new person at these various phases of life: Once a child, then a teen, a college and law student, then a young adult, now a wife inching toward middle age, someday perhaps a mother. Unfortunately, damn my wonderful memory, it all sticks around. I'd like very much to rid myself of the less pleasant parts, but as Molly points out, it's all part of me. Reading The Fixed Stars, I realized that's just the deal. I loved this sentence, about the author's father: "He dragged around all the aches, sorrows, and piles of personal garbage that a human accumulates over seven decades of living."Now, at 33, I feel more like a contemporary of the author than a young woman looking up to her and dreaming of some day being like her. Really, we're not that much alike, but I think I would have a lot to learn from following along, always a few years behind her, reading the wisdom she shared in her memoirs.Aside from her own story, Molly Wizenberg weaves in quotes and essays about sexuality and psychology. These parts of the book were less compelling for me, but I still really enjoyed the book, and I'm all in for the next one.Note: I received an advance reading copy from NetGalley.
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  • Kelso
    January 1, 1970
    Once in a while - a long while - a book comes along and heals you, tells you you're not alone, a portable therapist for days you need it.Molly's memoir about complexities - in sexuality, identity, relationships, marriage, and parenting - is the best memoir I've read. Molly's story is a night light guiding me through a dark and scary world of latent sexual identity. A mirror that reflects my same experiences and feelings back at me. (I would whisper a soft "yes" while highlighting a passage every Once in a while - a long while - a book comes along and heals you, tells you you're not alone, a portable therapist for days you need it.Molly's memoir about complexities - in sexuality, identity, relationships, marriage, and parenting - is the best memoir I've read. Molly's story is a night light guiding me through a dark and scary world of latent sexual identity. A mirror that reflects my same experiences and feelings back at me. (I would whisper a soft "yes" while highlighting a passage every time I read something profound, the books is now 75% green marker). A sermon to let me know that I am not alone and there are stories like this and people like me out there.Wow. Wow.What a great honor to have read this book.Thank you for letting me know my story is not singular. That there are other women out there who have been through this experience.Thank you for telling our story.TL;DR - I am gagged and I can't wait to proselytize the fuck out of this memoir come May 2020._____________________________________Molly has left me at a loss for words, which is some feat considering all I do is chatter.Reading this memoir was like finding your long lost sibling. Like coming home. Like Molly whispering into my head, "you're not alone in this story." I would answer back to the ARC, "Yes. Yes. Yes." while highlighting pages and pages of feelings that reflected exact points in my life when this situation was happening to me. I just.This book is an answer to a question my soul felt for years and years. A necessary memoir. Expertly written. Precise. Wow.Thank you, Molly, for telling my story. Our stories. Thank you for letting me know me, and other women out there are not alone in this.Thank you.
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  • Donna Boyd
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to #NetGalley and Abrams Press for providing me a digital copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for my honest review. This is a memoir by Molly Wizenberg. She is married with a small child when she is called for jury duty. She is 36 years old and has been married for almost ten years. Up to this point, she has never even kissed another woman, unlike many of her friends, and suddenly she is attracted to the female defense attorney in the case she is serving as a juror on. W Thank you to #NetGalley and Abrams Press for providing me a digital copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for my honest review. This is a memoir by Molly Wizenberg. She is married with a small child when she is called for jury duty. She is 36 years old and has been married for almost ten years. Up to this point, she has never even kissed another woman, unlike many of her friends, and suddenly she is attracted to the female defense attorney in the case she is serving as a juror on. When she confides in her husband Brandon that she has feelings for this woman, his reaction is not one of anger, but rather one of understanding. Brandon and Molly are in uncharted territory, with both of them searching for a path towards the future that works for each of them and their child. This is a beautifully written story that encompasses relationships, marriage, parenting and the fluidity of gender. I have not yet read Wizenberg's previous two books but I have added them to my "to read" list because of this book. This one is well worth your time.
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  • Piepie
    January 1, 1970
    I'm a big fan of Molly Wizenberg's previous two books - she has a very elegant way with words. While this memoir took a different tangent and took on topics such as sexuality, parenthood, divorce, and family, her writing was still exquisitely crafted. I devoured this book in two days. More, please! Thank you, Netgalley, for this arc.
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  • Denise
    January 1, 1970
    “Who was I, to ask for something other than everything I’d been given?” Wizenberg’s voice took me in and made me feel like we were best friends chatting over coffee. Her beautiful imagery and references made me think, “Yes, I know exactly what you are talking about.” This represents a shift from the author’s previous food-related memoirs, and I was all in.
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  • Nicole momming_and_reading
    January 1, 1970
    I appreciate what this book was doing but I am not a fan of this disjointed writing style and lots of boring details about a boring marriage. I have one of my own kthx.
  • Libby
    January 1, 1970
    2,5 stars; I received an ARC of this book from net galleyI read Orangette for years; Molly’s short but tender blog posts,photos shot on strange angles or with odd focus, simple home cooking recipes. It’s one of those things where you don’t know the writer, but you’ve read through a decade of blog archives and double-tapped a bunch of instagram posts and they feel like at least a friend of a friend. So reading this memoir felt a little strange, almost intrusive. And honestly, not that great. I th 2,5 stars; I received an ARC of this book from net galleyI read Orangette for years; Molly’s short but tender blog posts,photos shot on strange angles or with odd focus, simple home cooking recipes. It’s one of those things where you don’t know the writer, but you’ve read through a decade of blog archives and double-tapped a bunch of instagram posts and they feel like at least a friend of a friend. So reading this memoir felt a little strange, almost intrusive. And honestly, not that great. I think it could have been better suited to a long article, or maybe just waiting five more years to write. Blog posts can be written in the midst of something but memoirs, not so much. It just feels a bit half-finished. Even the references throughout feel almost like she skimmed through the works used in The Argonauts. And the people she writes about aren’t characters, they’re people who are still in her life right now. Which is obviously a difficulty of memoir, but it feels like she only wanted to write good and kind things about everyone, because they still have relationships that would be jeopardised by harsh words in a memoir. Maybe it’s time to try fiction; as much as it might be a lightly fictionalised version of her life, at least it would allow people to be complicated characters. I feel bad giving this a bad review. I think Molly’s a good writer! I just don’t think this is a good book. Reread the Orangette archives instead!
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGalley for an eARC of this book.This book was soooooo good! 5 stars! Wizenberg does an amazing job of walking the reader through all the turmoil she feels while exploring her sexuality as a mid-life adult. This book discusses a topic that isn't often tread upon, that is--what happens when a woman who always considered herself straight, starts to have feelings for another woman. The author does an excellent job of exploring these gray areas.
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  • Daven Ralston
    January 1, 1970
    This book would be on my required reading list if I had one
  • Cristy
    January 1, 1970
    Reading Women Challenge #12: a book about a woman who inspires you.
  • Kerilynne
    January 1, 1970
    I was sent this book through #GalleyMatch and #BookClubCookbook. I’ve never read anything by Molly Wizenberg before, but A Homemade Life has been on my book radar for a few years. I found The Fixed Stars to be a quick read. The writing style fluid and easy with lots of quotes to emphasize her points. But mostly this book felt like Molly’s journal written in a consumable way for readers to understand her inner most feelings and struggles. It gave me perspective. It tests conventions. It’s intimat I was sent this book through #GalleyMatch and #BookClubCookbook. I’ve never read anything by Molly Wizenberg before, but A Homemade Life has been on my book radar for a few years. I found The Fixed Stars to be a quick read. The writing style fluid and easy with lots of quotes to emphasize her points. But mostly this book felt like Molly’s journal written in a consumable way for readers to understand her inner most feelings and struggles. It gave me perspective. It tests conventions. It’s intimate.
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  • Kristina Aziz
    January 1, 1970
    While I appreciate navigating a polyamorous relationship as a fascinating memoir subject, the writing style was dry, largely uninteresting, and...does it make sense to say middle aged? There are so many irrelevant details and time skipping, it reads more like the stream of consciousness diary of a Boomer who wants to jump on the LGBT bandwagon than someone who took the time to think out the memoir they wanted to tell and took the time to hire a good editor
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  • Lara
    January 1, 1970
    As a huge fan of the Spilled Milk podcast and both hosts' respective books, I am so excited for this!
  • Cynthia
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars rounded up because I so loved this author’s first memoir - A Homemade Life.
  • Philippa
    January 1, 1970
    I have read and thoroughly enjoyed Molly Wizenberg's two other memoirs (A Homemade Life and Delancey) - this is the first one that is not focused on food, but on another kind of hunger. And personally I think it's the best of the three. I followed Molly's blog Orangette for years; I remember sneaking peeks at it on illicit "internet breaks" in a boring bank job I had in 2004! Her writing has always been intimate and inviting, but The Fixed Stars takes her writing to another level that is more pe I have read and thoroughly enjoyed Molly Wizenberg's two other memoirs (A Homemade Life and Delancey) - this is the first one that is not focused on food, but on another kind of hunger. And personally I think it's the best of the three. I followed Molly's blog Orangette for years; I remember sneaking peeks at it on illicit "internet breaks" in a boring bank job I had in 2004! Her writing has always been intimate and inviting, but The Fixed Stars takes her writing to another level that is more personal and revealing than anything that's come before it, and demonstrates what an interesting evolution she has had, in life and in her writing.The premise of The Fixed Stars is a very interesting one - Molly, mother to a young child in her mid-30s and married for nearly a decade to a man, finds herself suddenly attracted to women, one in particular while serving on a jury. Like many heterosexual people, Molly had never questioned her sexual orientation before. She saw it as a stable, fixed part of her identity. Or certainly that she was "straight enough to not think about whether I was straight", as she puts it. To discover that her sexuality was more fluid than she realised was a huge shock, to her and her husband, and to their credit, they still obviously loved each other and do their best to accommodate this revelation by experimenting with an open marriage. It doesn't quite resolve things, as Molly has found herself profoundly and permanently altered and very ready to change the course of her life. I found The Fixed Stars a fascinating read and a timely reminder that we never truly know what is going on behind the picture people present of their lives to the world. Molly's marriage to her husband Brandon always seemed like something out of a Nora Ephron film - they met through her blog, bonded through their love of food, and opened two restaurants together in Seattle. It always appeared quite idyllic and dynamic, from the outside looking in. But as we begin The Fixed Stars journey, we sense that while Molly believes she is very satisfied with her life with Brandon (at this point, they now have a young daughter as well as their two restaurants), the truth is that she never wanted a life of being a restauranteur, nor being a restauranteur's wife. In Delancey she touches on this and comes to a happy conclusion that that's what marriage is about, letting the other person be who they are. But reading The Fixed Stars, you realise that Molly has compromised a great deal for Brandon to pursue his dreams. So while the revelation that starts the journey of The Fixed Stars comes out of the blue for Molly and her family, and she admitted on her blog when she shared the news "it's nothing I would have chosen", as a reader you can see that many aspects of Molly's life with Brandon were also things she wouldn't necessarily have chosen. She just wants to walk her daughter to school, write all day, cook and eat dinner together with her partner in the evenings, and go to bed at the same time - all simple things that are not really possible when your husband owns and runs two restaurants.The Fixed Stars is a raw and intimate examination of the fact that life is not as logical or smooth as we would like it to be - and if something as foundational as our sexuality can alter over time, then who are we...really? Molly doesn't shy away from digging through her past, her psyche and the work of scholars - literary and scientific - to ponder this question. Personally, I think the book would have been stronger without the regular quotations and references to outside sources (gender studies, scientific studies, literature, philosophy, etc) - I was far more interested in Molly's journey and the next step in her self-discovery. And of course with any memoir, particularly if you are young and the events you're relating are still recent, there is the inevitable tension between how much you're allowed (legally or otherwise) to reveal and how much you need to leave out or skip over. Molly doesn't hold back on herself but understandably has to when relating parts of the journey that involve other people. While I don't think it detracted from the powerful impact of the story, I can see other reviewers' points that this might have been a different, deeper book had it been written with another 10 years distance.Nevertheless, it was a compelling and beautifully-written book that I could barely put down and devoured in a handful of sittings. The Fixed Stars is an eloquent reminder that nothing is certain and the life we have built for ourselves can change very quickly...and that is not always necessarily a bad thing. I look forward to reading whatever Molly Wizenberg writes next! With thanks to the author, publisher and Netgalley for an ARC.
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  • Anneke
    January 1, 1970
    Book Review: The Fixed StarsAuthor: Molly WizenbergPublisher: ABRAMSPublication Date: August 4, 2020Review Date: June 10, 2020I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the blurb:“From a bestselling memoirist, a thoughtful and provocative story of changing identity, complex sexuality, and enduring family relationships At age 36, while serving on a jury, author Molly Wizenberg found herself drawn to a female attorney she hardly knew. Married to a man Book Review: The Fixed StarsAuthor: Molly WizenbergPublisher: ABRAMSPublication Date: August 4, 2020Review Date: June 10, 2020I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the blurb:“From a bestselling memoirist, a thoughtful and provocative story of changing identity, complex sexuality, and enduring family relationships At age 36, while serving on a jury, author Molly Wizenberg found herself drawn to a female attorney she hardly knew. Married to a man for nearly a decade and mother to a toddler, Wizenberg tried to return to her life as she knew it, but something inside her had changed irrevocably. Instead, she would discover that the trajectory of our lives is rarely as smooth or as logical as we’d like to believe. Like many of us, Wizenberg had long understood sexual orientation as a stable part of ourselves: we’re “born this way.” Suddenly she realized that her story was more complicated. Who was she, she wondered, if something at her very core could change so radically? The Fixed Stars is a taut, electrifying memoir exploring timely and timeless questions about desire, identity, and the limits and possibilities of family. In honest and searing prose, Wizenberg forges a new path: through the murk of separation and divorce, coming out to family and friends, learning to co-parent a young child, and realizing a new vision of love. The result is a frank and moving story about letting go of rigid definitions and ideals that no longer fit, and learning instead who we really are.”To be clear, this is a memoir, not fiction. I was attracted to reading the book because of the initial storyline. About being seated on a jury and as a straight, married mother, finding herself having an obsessive crush on one of the defense attorneys, who was a woman. It sounded interesting. The story continues. Molly ends up having a short affair with the attorney. She eventually ends up getting divorced from her husband, and proceeds to date more women. It ended up being a long, drawn out coming out story, which was not interesting to me. I stopped reading around 80% into the book where she’s dating a non-binary person who prefers the singular pronouns “they/them.” That was the dealbreaker right there. I must be something of a grammar freak, because they and them are plural pronouns. They will never be singular. This defilement of language just drives me crazy. Just my personal issue. Mostly I gave up on the book because I was no longer interested. However....the writing was excellent. Some people think they can write memoirs because they think they’ve led an interesting life. But they really can’t write. That’s not true in Molly’s case. Her writing was fantastic, filled with many a gorgeous turn of phrase and wonderful imagery. If you want to read about a straight woman discovering that she’s a lesbian, this is a good book to read. And the writing is exceptional. It was sad that she broke up her marriage, but life can be messy. So, I give the book 4 stars, with a recommendation to read. Thank you to Abrams Press for giving me early access and best of luck to the author with her writing career. #netgalley #thefixedstars #abramspress #mollywizenberg #comingoutstory
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  • Angie Simmonds
    January 1, 1970
    I'm wavering between 3 and 4 stars on this one but I'll go out on limb and give it 4 stars. I'm not into memoirs. To me they're usually filled with whiny "poor me, my life is so terrible" diatribes. A fellow book club member likes them because she likes to see how they made their life better after what they went through. Anyway, I almost passed on his one because of it being a memoir.I have to say that I think Molly Wizenberg did a good job with this. Was there whining? Yes. Did she make her lif I'm wavering between 3 and 4 stars on this one but I'll go out on limb and give it 4 stars. I'm not into memoirs. To me they're usually filled with whiny "poor me, my life is so terrible" diatribes. A fellow book club member likes them because she likes to see how they made their life better after what they went through. Anyway, I almost passed on his one because of it being a memoir.I have to say that I think Molly Wizenberg did a good job with this. Was there whining? Yes. Did she make her life better after what she went through? Maybe. I think half the times she's unsure herself.Molly writes about the breakup of her marriage after having thoughts about another woman. She recounts how her and her husband Brandon talked things out and how they decided to approach the situation. I applaud her husband Brandon for not bolting. He was really fair (actually he went above and beyond) about trying to make the marriage work.I found Molly to be a huge oversharer. I didn't think EVERYONE needed to be told about her open marriage and her fluid sexuality. I guess I don't understand why gay people need to shout it from the rooftops. I don't mean to offend anyone, but I, as a heterosexual woman don't announce it to everyone I meet or am an acquaintance of. "Hi, my name is Angie, I'm straight." It's just who I am. Isn't it the same with queer people? Being born that way, isn't it just who they are?Molly spends a huge portion of her book telling people who she is NOW and exploring her feelings about that. There is an emptiness in her about her divorce. There is a sadness that she has disrupted her young daughter's life. There is confusion about how she becomes a gay person, what it feels like, how she navigates sex. There is a whole lot to think about.Molly has given me a memoir that I actually think has merit, which is why I had to rate this book 4 stars. The writing was good and thought provoking. She did a lot of research not only for the book but about what she was going through. She read a lot of different perspectives to gain some understanding of herself. The subject matter made me a little uncomfortable, not because she was gay, but because she was so open about sex and her sexuality with so many people. I have always been taught that your sex life is nobody else's business. At times I felt it was TMI. But I guess that's the purpose of a memoir. To get it all out there and figure things out!The Fixed Stars is a memoir worth reading as long as you go into it knowing what you're getting into.
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