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Book Review: What I was Doing While You Were Breeding

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mich chapter.

For my last birthday, one of my best friends gave me this thin memoir titled What I was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman. Immediately I knew I would identify with the author regardless of her story. Throughout my life, I have been very certain that I do not want kids. This personal choice has been met with variations of, “You’ll change your mind. Kids are wonderful.” Each time I hear that I cringe. It has always felt like a patronizing invalidation of my identity. Newman has faced the same criticism and persevered.

As she states in her memoir, Newman never felt a pull to settle down and become a mother. Instead, she focuses on her career as a comedy writer, and when she has breaks, she traveles. People were concerned that she would feel lonely travelling alone, but she learns through different trips to places like Argentina and Israel that there is a freedom in travelling alone. She compares her experiences with a girls’ trip to her favorite place, Argentina, and her previous experience alone in Argentina. Newman admits that she resented her best friends because they ruined her Argentina with their complaints.

During the book, she also takes us on her romantic journeys. In many of the places she travelled alone, she struck up romantic relationships with locals or fellow travelers. She recounts how cultural differences interfered with sex, and the language barrier limited communication. I can relate to this experience, because during a summer study abroad I met a nice French boy, and we spent a month together. He showed me around Paris, and I’m certain my study abroad would not have been anywhere near as great if I hadn’t met him. Both of us took a bold step out of our comfort zones to our benefit. 

In the end, this memoir is a love story over multiple continents. I won’t spoil it, but I will say it’s very much like the movie Definitely, Maybe or the sitcom How I Met Your Mother. A few candidates are proposed, but you have to wait until the end to find out what actually happens. At times it feels as if you’re reading a novel rather than a retelling of someone’s life. The author is unapologetic about her escapades. But she shows her human side in the moments when she second guesses prioritizing her career and her personal liberty over settling down and having a family. In the end, she reaffirms her own choices and acknowledges that they may not work for others, but she’ll never regret them. 

I would recommend this memoir to anyone that has faced the counseling well-meaning relatives who assure you that you’ll change your mind about having a big family in the end. As a woman, I am acutely aware of the underlying stereotypes and bias that prompt this “advice.” It has always frustrated me to hear because it implies that they think I can go no further than being a good mother. But as this memoir demonstrates, ignoring those critics can lead you to far off places. You can find the memoir on Amazon or at Literati.   


Image Credit: Amazon

Sara is a feature writer for Her Campus. She is a senior at the University of Michigan, studying French, Art History and Political Science. She is interested in international law and competes on the University of Michigan's Mock Trial team. In her free time, Sara explores Ann Arbor looking for new foods, specializing in tacos and noodles. She loves immersing herself in a good book from Literati and traveling to learn about different cultures. Sara loves the feeling of walking around a city with nowhere to go, headphones in, observing the hustle of everyday life. If Sara could do anything in the world, she woud be a travel and fashion writer exploring with a camera, a journal, and an empty stomach. 
I'm Melanie Stamelman, a junior at the University of Michigan. I am the Campus Correspondent of UMich's chapter of Her Campus and am incredibly passionate about lifestyle journalism.  I follow the news and lifestyle trends, and am a self-proclaimed Whole Foods, spin obsessed wacko.  Thanks for reading xoxo.