Motherhood, pregnancy, trauma: What Concerns Us by Laura Vogt Book Review

by Victoria Bromley

Thank you Heloise Press for a review copy of ‘What Concerns Us’. A thought-provoking read about women’s bodies and motherhood.

TW: Mention of sexual assault

What could be more perfect for Swim Press to review a book about women’s bodies with our upcoming second issue ‘bodies’ coming out this month? Set in Switzerland, and translated from German by Caroline Waight, this book was so tender and fragile as it ventured into the minds of women whose bodies are changing and growing with new life and their perspectives of motherhood.

Following two sisters, Rahel and Fenna, this book explores Rahel’s motherhood with two children and battle with post-natal depression, and Fenna’s conflicting view of her pregnancy after she questions her consent prior to conception. This book also touches upon how breast cancer can affect women’s bodies with their mother’s diagnosis.

Mother in my house, before – behind – beside; I lie cramped, child’s head on my breast, pursed lips. At night you seek the milk with your hands.

– What Concerns Us by Laura Vogt

The men in this book infuriated me. Fenna’s boyfriend Luc was problematic on many levels, markedly when he took Fenna into the forest and raped her. It was heart-breaking to read how Fenna tried to justify the experience as she rewrote what had happened in her mind and chose to believe she had consented because she didn’t put up much of a fight. It was difficult to read but so insightful into how these traumatic events can affect your mentality.

Another interesting theme this book explored was how women give up their promising careers to care for their children. Rahel gave up music when she gave birth to her son Rico, then fell out of love with singing. It shows how there are many ways women lose themselves and become different people after pregnancy.

It’s going to be a boy. It’s going to be a girl. XX or XY was noted down, and the letters made a difference visible only between their legs, the moment they were born. What was the unborn child before that? What stands between girl and boy, between Rico and Leni? What the fuck is this inside me?

– What Concerns Us by Laura Vogt

What I found interesting to read about was how Rahel adored her first child, her son Rico, more than her second, her daughter Leni. The fact she had a daughter unsettled her, and this was partly explored through her own upbringing and relationship with her father. The darker struggles of motherhood shone a light on how breastfeeding and other motherly duties are tiring and painful. Something I hadn’t read much about before.

A stunning, thought-provoking read with an incredibly beautiful cover. Thank you again Heloise Press for the copy.

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