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Knowing where your scars come from doesn't make them go away. Growing up on a ranch, feeding bottles to bummer lambs and babysitting her little sister, Jackie Shannon Hollis expected to become a mother someday. But, after a series of failed relationships, she begins to question this expectation. She meets the man she wants to spend her life with, a man who never wanted chi Knowing where your scars come from doesn't make them go away. Growing up on a ranch, feeding bottles to bummer lambs and babysitting her little sister, Jackie Shannon Hollis expected to become a mother someday. But, after a series of failed relationships, she begins to question this expectation. She meets the man she wants to spend her life with, a man who never wanted children. Jackie joyfully commits to a childless life. Soon after the wedding, on a visit to the family ranch in rural Oregon, Jackie holds her newborn niece and falls deep into baby love and longing. As she navigates the overlapping roles of wife, daughter, aunt, sister, survivor, counselor, and friend, she explores what it means to choose a different path. This Particular Happiness delves into the messy and beautiful territory of what we keep and what we abandon to make the space for love.


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Knowing where your scars come from doesn't make them go away. Growing up on a ranch, feeding bottles to bummer lambs and babysitting her little sister, Jackie Shannon Hollis expected to become a mother someday. But, after a series of failed relationships, she begins to question this expectation. She meets the man she wants to spend her life with, a man who never wanted chi Knowing where your scars come from doesn't make them go away. Growing up on a ranch, feeding bottles to bummer lambs and babysitting her little sister, Jackie Shannon Hollis expected to become a mother someday. But, after a series of failed relationships, she begins to question this expectation. She meets the man she wants to spend her life with, a man who never wanted children. Jackie joyfully commits to a childless life. Soon after the wedding, on a visit to the family ranch in rural Oregon, Jackie holds her newborn niece and falls deep into baby love and longing. As she navigates the overlapping roles of wife, daughter, aunt, sister, survivor, counselor, and friend, she explores what it means to choose a different path. This Particular Happiness delves into the messy and beautiful territory of what we keep and what we abandon to make the space for love.

30 review for This Particular Happiness: A Childless Love Story

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rene Denfeld

    This is a book about how to not get what you want. After agreeing with husband to not have children, Jackie Shannon Hollis changed her mind. He did not. She tells of having to reconcile her desire for a child that might never exist with the deep love of a husband. It is a book about finding peace in disappointment, and how sometimes life ends up delivering something far better. This is one of the best memoirs I've ever read. This is a book about how to not get what you want. After agreeing with husband to not have children, Jackie Shannon Hollis changed her mind. He did not. She tells of having to reconcile her desire for a child that might never exist with the deep love of a husband. It is a book about finding peace in disappointment, and how sometimes life ends up delivering something far better. This is one of the best memoirs I've ever read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dianah

    There was a time in my life when I thought I would never have children, and I so wish I had This Particular Happiness then. Here Jackie Shannon Hollis attempts to reconcile herself to the idea of forever living childless, and the result is raw, bittersweet, and painful. Examining every feeling of sorrow, jealousy, need, regret and pain, she unspools her story like the counselor that she is; always asking why, always digging deeper. Can a woman live a happy, fulfilling life without having her own There was a time in my life when I thought I would never have children, and I so wish I had This Particular Happiness then. Here Jackie Shannon Hollis attempts to reconcile herself to the idea of forever living childless, and the result is raw, bittersweet, and painful. Examining every feeling of sorrow, jealousy, need, regret and pain, she unspools her story like the counselor that she is; always asking why, always digging deeper. Can a woman live a happy, fulfilling life without having her own child? It's a question that is being asked more frequently these days than ever before, and one that deserves close scrutiny. Beautifully done with an open, honest voice, This Particular Happiness is a memoir of childlessness, happiness, and wholeness, and how those disparate things can entwine around a full life.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Courtenay Hameister

    I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of this book and adored it. As a woman who has chosen to remain childless, I thought I might find it difficult to relate to the story of a woman who so deeply wanted to be a mother, but I was with her every step of the way. The book weaves beautifully from vivid stories of her childhood to her ongoing struggle with a partner who doesn’t want the same things she does. Anyone interested in all the ways in which women can define ourselves by our motherhood I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of this book and adored it. As a woman who has chosen to remain childless, I thought I might find it difficult to relate to the story of a woman who so deeply wanted to be a mother, but I was with her every step of the way. The book weaves beautifully from vivid stories of her childhood to her ongoing struggle with a partner who doesn’t want the same things she does. Anyone interested in all the ways in which women can define ourselves by our motherhood or childlessness will love this book. It’s a wonderfully crafted and human story about our search for happiness in a complicated world.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Finally someone has told the story of what it’s like to be childless because your partner doesn’t want to have kids. Not childless by choice, not childless by infertility, but childless because of whom you love. Yes, I told a similar my Childless by Marriage (https://amzn.to/2ZZTT2U) book, but I took a more journalistic approach, with lots of research and interviews. Hollis lays it out there in a beautifully written memoir. She had one failed marriage, then got married again to a man who was old Finally someone has told the story of what it’s like to be childless because your partner doesn’t want to have kids. Not childless by choice, not childless by infertility, but childless because of whom you love. Yes, I told a similar my Childless by Marriage (https://amzn.to/2ZZTT2U) book, but I took a more journalistic approach, with lots of research and interviews. Hollis lays it out there in a beautifully written memoir. She had one failed marriage, then got married again to a man who was older and did not want to have children. She pushed as hard as she dared to change his mind, but in the end she had to accept that she needed to enjoy the life she had with the man she loved, a life in which they were free to travel and to love their 30-something nieces and nephews. In this book, she takes us through a traumatic event that has affected her whole life. She talks honestly about the friendships she lost because she found it hard to be around while her friends were having babies. The doubts, disappointment, and grief of childlessness are all here, along with the joys and possibilities. If you’re childless or looking at the possibility of being childless, read this, but even if you have a houseful of kids, read it because it’s a beautiful love story, the first I hope of many terrific books by Jackie Shannon Hollis. This Particular Happiness will not be released until later this year, but it is available now for pre-orders at https://www.jackieshannonhollis.com/.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Leanne

    Honesty, sadly, is fighting for its life in America. (It kills me to see it like this--like Whitney Houston in the end, once golden as a sun ray, turned to shatter and shard.) Elegance is also fighting for its life, as are manners and nuance--the ability to open the brain, to listen and stretch. Brains are struggling for their lives as boorishness and intellectual laziness, like a carnival of sweaty fat clowns, tries to sit on us in America. But, hallelujah. There are still sparkling moments when Honesty, sadly, is fighting for its life in America. (It kills me to see it like this--like Whitney Houston in the end, once golden as a sun ray, turned to shatter and shard.) Elegance is also fighting for its life, as are manners and nuance--the ability to open the brain, to listen and stretch. Brains are struggling for their lives as boorishness and intellectual laziness, like a carnival of sweaty fat clowns, tries to sit on us in America. But, hallelujah. There are still sparkling moments when honesty and elegance rule this deteriorating discombobulation. This Particular Happiness, for instance, a new memoir by Jackie Shannon Hollis, is a book-length example of sparkling honesty and elegance. The book is an avowance of humanness and the reality of its whirl and soar and dip and dive. This Particular Happiness is a beautifully written documentation of Hollis's struggle with tradition and tradition's loyal soldiers--expectations. And the book is a beautifully written documentation of growth, change, of sliding, at last, into a new base. With grace. And it's all for love. This Particular Happiness shows us love. Everyone in the book loves. It is as if the book loves us. I mean, I fell in love with the narrator, her husband, her mother, her nieces and nephews, the cows and kitties. And the way they all loved each other. I fell in love with how they all loved--Hollis most of all. This Particular Happiness recounts Hollis's particular struggle when she falls in love with and marries an older man who does not want to have children. Non-negotiable. He is clear from the beginning. As is his love. Ms. Hollis, on the other hand, assumed all her life she would follow tradition, as did her mother, siblings, and friends from her small Oregon town. The book, like a war correspondent, documents the battle between love and generations of social and familial expectation. Women have been on a wild ride toward liberation--especially these last 60 years--the span of Hollis's book. Brought up by hopeful housewives of the late 40s and 50s, women now in their 60s came of age smackdab in the middle of the maestrom of social change. Marriage and children was still tradition. But then things broke open. Options were suggested. Career instead of children? Career and children? Career and no children? But there was magnificent doubt and guilt that rode along with any choice. For some, it ruined it. I mean, the evolution. Mothers keep secrets from their daughters--about the hard parts, mostly. That's what they hide. The pain of childbirth. The difficulty and ease of losing yourself in your children and their needs. The boredom, the flatness of marriage. The loudness and softness of family. The sadness. Mothers keep secrets about the hard parts. It's okay. I now understand. Jackie Shannon Hollis's This Particular Happiness doesn't keep secrets. It's bare-naked honest. What a relief. Another sparkling moment of honesty, what we need, what we crave, what we try to remember.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kate Kaufmann

    Rarely have we readers been offered such intimate access to the inner life of a long marriage. In This Particular Happiness Jackie Shannon Hollis, and by extension her husband Bill, invite us to travel the path up to and within their 30+ year marriage, not in a general way, but through the different lenses through which they view the potential of parenthood. Stepping behind the simplistic veneer of “childless” and “childfree,” we come to better understand how nuanced and complex this either/or l Rarely have we readers been offered such intimate access to the inner life of a long marriage. In This Particular Happiness Jackie Shannon Hollis, and by extension her husband Bill, invite us to travel the path up to and within their 30+ year marriage, not in a general way, but through the different lenses through which they view the potential of parenthood. Stepping behind the simplistic veneer of “childless” and “childfree,” we come to better understand how nuanced and complex this either/or label is, and two individuals find a way to craft a healthy marriage. With raw courage and frank honesty, Hollis braids together threads of her personal story with those of her husband and family in a tribute to compassionate acceptance of diverse views and experiences.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Helen Sinoradzki

    I admire any author who can write about a loving marriage without sounding sentimental. Or one who can write about a marriage in which one partner changes her mind about the commitment both made to not have children and make me believe in a happy ending. With grace and humor, in lovely unadorned prose, Jackie Shannon Hollis Hollis writes about the complexities of motherhood, the demands family and society put on women, the body yearning for a child, the ache of a unique loss, and the richness a I admire any author who can write about a loving marriage without sounding sentimental. Or one who can write about a marriage in which one partner changes her mind about the commitment both made to not have children and make me believe in a happy ending. With grace and humor, in lovely unadorned prose, Jackie Shannon Hollis Hollis writes about the complexities of motherhood, the demands family and society put on women, the body yearning for a child, the ache of a unique loss, and the richness a childless life can hold.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Yuvi Zalkow

    This is an incredible book that somehow manages to capture all the complicated and messy stuff in such a beautiful and uncomplicated way. And it's also a real celebration of life. The kind of book that can make you cry and smile over and over again. I particularly love the honesty and intimacy of Hollis's storytelling voice that makes it so easy and pleasant to read this book from start to finish. This is an incredible book that somehow manages to capture all the complicated and messy stuff in such a beautiful and uncomplicated way. And it's also a real celebration of life. The kind of book that can make you cry and smile over and over again. I particularly love the honesty and intimacy of Hollis's storytelling voice that makes it so easy and pleasant to read this book from start to finish.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    I’ve never read or seen another creative work that explores this thing — being a woman in a loving supportive relationship who could have had kids, wanted to, and didn’t, for reasons other than fertility. It’s oddly unique. Or maybe culturally we just don’t find it compelling enough to spend much time on. The book is a spliced then and now memoir, made up of little essays that build the story. It’s effectively told. As a prairie-born farm kid, I especially relate to her sprawling family and the I’ve never read or seen another creative work that explores this thing — being a woman in a loving supportive relationship who could have had kids, wanted to, and didn’t, for reasons other than fertility. It’s oddly unique. Or maybe culturally we just don’t find it compelling enough to spend much time on. The book is a spliced then and now memoir, made up of little essays that build the story. It’s effectively told. As a prairie-born farm kid, I especially relate to her sprawling family and the little paper cuts that no one means to give but can’t help giving, when it comes to babies. I’m grateful she wrote the book. I’m grateful to be over 40 and this chapter in my own life finally put fully to bed.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sandy Thor

    Over and over again she tries to talk her husband into having a baby. And she tells you over and over again about it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    As Gateway Women founder Jody Day has said, "the room called childlessness has many doors." Some (like me) are childless because of infertility &/or pregnancy loss. Some women never find the right man to have babies with before their fertile years are over. And some are what blogger Sue Fagalde Lick calls "Childless by Marriage." They marry a man who doesn't want children. Perhaps their husband initially said yes to kids, but changed his mind after the marriage. Perhaps he already has children f As Gateway Women founder Jody Day has said, "the room called childlessness has many doors." Some (like me) are childless because of infertility &/or pregnancy loss. Some women never find the right man to have babies with before their fertile years are over. And some are what blogger Sue Fagalde Lick calls "Childless by Marriage." They marry a man who doesn't want children. Perhaps their husband initially said yes to kids, but changed his mind after the marriage. Perhaps he already has children from another relationship(s), and doesn't want any more. Perhaps the woman didn't think she wanted wanted children either, but changed her mind. In these cases, a decision must be made: whether to stay in the marriage (which is often otherwise good), or leave and try to find another partner to try to have a child with while still fertile. "This Particular Happiness: A Childless Love Story" by Jackie Shannon Hollis is a memoir that falls into the "childless by marriage" category. Jackie's husband Bill was clear from the beginning of their relationship that he did not want children. Jackie didn't think she wanted children either -- until the day she held her newborn niece and was suddenly overcome with a raging case of baby fever. The book spans Jackie's life, from childhood to the present, going back & forth in time to tell her story. It's about coming to terms with childlessness. It's about relationships -- with friends and family members, as well as partners -- and about building a satisfying and fulfilling life -- even when that life doesn't go exactly the way we had hoped or planned. My own route/door to that room called childlessness was very different from Jackie's, but there were many things in this book I could relate to. Jackie is just a few years older than me -- we grew up in the same era, and absorbed similar attitudes about what women's lives could be like. While I never lived on a farm, I could relate to Jackie's upbringing in a small, rural community. We are both very proud aunties -- albeit my husband & I have just two nephews, versus Bill & Jackie's 40+!! nieces & nephews together (including inlaws & "greats"). I loved the closing chapter, and Jackie's reflections on being childless in her 50s. Excerpt: Women who are grandmothers say, "It's the best. You have no idea." I don't think they mean it literally. They forget that I truly have no idea what it's like to be a grandmother, and I never will. They're caught up in their own joy. I try to stay caught up in mine. They say, "I get all the fun of having the grandkids and none of the drudgery." This part I know. It's the joy I've had all along... This book was beautifully and honestly written. It's a moving portrait of coming to terms with a childless life. Overall, it's a great read. I gave it five stars.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Liesl

    This book was a gift. Shannon Hollis writes about her journey through adulthood and her choice not to have children of her own—not an easy choice or one her younger self could have imagined! She reflects beautifully on her self-evolution from young adulthood to older adulthood and the ebb and flow of her thoughts and feelings around identity, relationships, and parenthood. She acknowledges that her decision to not have children was a sacrifice (one to preserve her loving marriage) that came with This book was a gift. Shannon Hollis writes about her journey through adulthood and her choice not to have children of her own—not an easy choice or one her younger self could have imagined! She reflects beautifully on her self-evolution from young adulthood to older adulthood and the ebb and flow of her thoughts and feelings around identity, relationships, and parenthood. She acknowledges that her decision to not have children was a sacrifice (one to preserve her loving marriage) that came with intermittent longing, uncertainty, and even grief. However, she also embraces the fullness she finds in the childless life she does choose! She experiences a meaningful, long-lasting marriage and enjoys a very child-full life as the aunt to numerous children of family members and friends. She finds joy, freedom, creativity, and many sources of love and connection. I am reminded of a quote from Cheryl Strayed’s book “Tiny Beautiful Things.” She writes, “I’ll never know, and neither will you of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.” I think Shannon Hollis captures this sentiment in her writing. Life’s choices come with inevitable losses. We let go of some things to gain others. As a stepmom with child-bearing years remaining, I struggle with the question of whether to have my own bio kids. I will lose some things and gain others regardless of the choice I make with my husband. But Shannon Hollis reminds me that not having my own kids does not mean I can’t have a rich life! Au contraire! Moreover, like Shannon Hollis, I can have meaningful relationships with children—my step kids, nieces, nephews, etc.! I can embrace a different kind of maternal role and make a difference in the lives of kids who are not my own. And I know these kids will also make a difference in mine.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Elder

    My friend Jackie is such a great storyteller. Her memoir reads like you’re sitting beside her listening to her life around a campfire or on a long road trip. The story begins at a moment a year into her second marriage to her love Bill, who made it clear very early on that he didn’t want kids—but this moment opens up a wanting in Jackie that she thought she’d made peace with. The story moves forward from there, but braids in another story—the story of her life from girlhood to that moment with B My friend Jackie is such a great storyteller. Her memoir reads like you’re sitting beside her listening to her life around a campfire or on a long road trip. The story begins at a moment a year into her second marriage to her love Bill, who made it clear very early on that he didn’t want kids—but this moment opens up a wanting in Jackie that she thought she’d made peace with. The story moves forward from there, but braids in another story—the story of her life from girlhood to that moment with Bill. I’m really into the word (or the idea of) cartography right now and the way Jackie maps out her own particular womanhood, her sexuality, the pressures put upon her by forces both external and internal, renders a map that you can see so clearly as a reader. It’s a beautiful book that leans hard into life’s uncertainties. It made me think a lot about a cartography of my own I’ve been working on, taught me a lot about the delicacy and bravery of writing about family and relationships.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    A heartfelt, thought provoking memoir about one woman’s choice not to become a mother in order to keep her marriage in tact. I will be recommending this book to my book club because I think it would generate a deep conversation about motherhood, marriage and the choices we make.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    Shannon Hollis has created such an alive and thoughtful book. I really enjoyed how instead of a chronological narrative, we're offered a rich weave of time periods that move back and forth in perfect compliment to each other. So much to admire here. Shannon Hollis has created such an alive and thoughtful book. I really enjoyed how instead of a chronological narrative, we're offered a rich weave of time periods that move back and forth in perfect compliment to each other. So much to admire here.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ellen Baird

    Jackie Shannon Hollis writes with honesty and passion. Her memoir speaks to who we can be when we have the courage to move forward when circumstances are difficult. This Particular Happiness: A Childless Love Story has much to offer anyone, childless by choice or not, or with children. I loved reading Jackie's book and recommend it whatever your status. Thank you Jackie. Jackie Shannon Hollis writes with honesty and passion. Her memoir speaks to who we can be when we have the courage to move forward when circumstances are difficult. This Particular Happiness: A Childless Love Story has much to offer anyone, childless by choice or not, or with children. I loved reading Jackie's book and recommend it whatever your status. Thank you Jackie.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Travel Writing

    In the acknowledgements, Jackie writes of her husband: "He helped me understand that secrets burn us and openness expands our hearts...There are so many ways to be in the world and none of them have to be the expected." And I knew I was in good hands with this author. Having been raised in a small ranching town at the furthest outskirts of Eastern Oregon, I felt uncomfortably placed in this gorgeous story. These people are my people, I walked the halls of a high school exactly like Jackie's, the In the acknowledgements, Jackie writes of her husband: "He helped me understand that secrets burn us and openness expands our hearts...There are so many ways to be in the world and none of them have to be the expected." And I knew I was in good hands with this author. Having been raised in a small ranching town at the furthest outskirts of Eastern Oregon, I felt uncomfortably placed in this gorgeous story. These people are my people, I walked the halls of a high school exactly like Jackie's, the striking descriptions of the big sky, fields of wheat, 4-H, rodeos, the flickering TV a constant in the family room and the unspoken edict that all women have babies- all of it put me right there. In a place I fled at 17, but is always tucked away in my heart. Next to the sagebrush and catfish derbies. When I was 13, I was staring out the car-window as my favorite aunt drove us to town. The nearest 'big' town had 11,000 people and was a 40-minute drive away. From nowhere, she asked the car, which contained me and two of my female cousins, "So, when you have kids, what do you think you'll name them?" My two cousins perked up. This was obviously a conversation they had had before. Names and reasons tumbled out of them. Their teenage logic for naming another human being, albeit an imaginary one, was on full display: Oh, I love the name Jennifer. (Jennifer being that cousin's best-friend's name), but I don't like the name Don. I would never name my kid Don. (Don being a very old alcoholic in town, who would try to catch you in alleyways or lure you away from the adults to talk to you.) I sat quietly, I couldn't think of one name. I felt myself panicking. I was 13. I wanted the new Duran Duran album when we got to town, this naming of babies was way out of my wheelhouse. My aunt noticed my silence and directed the question at me. I mumbled a few names. Satisfied, she went back to my more eager conversationalist cousins. In that moment, right then, I knew kids were not going to be for me. I knew it just like I knew a whole lot of other stuff that no one had taught me. Like to never go down an alley with Don. Every single girl I knew from high school had a child, some 6 children. Jackie Shannon Hollis' gorgeous, heart-breaking and hopeful story is one of love, and kindness, and making hard decisions. Decisions you never thought you would have to make and then learning how to live with, and in. them. Learning what family means. And most importantly, how to love people who maybe didn't know how to love you back in a way that made sense. My only wish for this book, was it was longer. I was gutted when I came to the end on Kindle. It caught me off guard and I sat for a good long while wishing for more.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Preeti

    This is the first piece of creative nonfiction by Forest Avenue Press and I thought it was brilliant. This memoir focuses on themes such as family expectations, relationships, friendships, grief, loss, trauma, personal growth and of course motherhood or lack there of. I thought the perspective shown was important because it wasn't the usual story where a woman could not get pregnant because of infertility, lack of a partner or by making a firm choice on their own. This memoir is about a woman wh This is the first piece of creative nonfiction by Forest Avenue Press and I thought it was brilliant. This memoir focuses on themes such as family expectations, relationships, friendships, grief, loss, trauma, personal growth and of course motherhood or lack there of. I thought the perspective shown was important because it wasn't the usual story where a woman could not get pregnant because of infertility, lack of a partner or by making a firm choice on their own. This memoir is about a woman who chose a life of childlessness because of the love she had for her husband, who firmly did not want children. Ultimately it is a choice that she comes to terms with but getting to that point was filled with a lot of self reflection and growth. We get to explore all the moments in their lives that led up to this choice and how it played out in their relationship. It was a very raw and messy account, which is to be expected with such a life changing decision. There are moments where the author pleads with her husband to change his mind but there are also moments where we see tremendous growth.  "Maybe it wasn't him I'd given up a child for. Maybe it was for me. Leading to this moment, held in the power of love and other possibilities. It was me I owed. To stand up and declare my plans. To not wait for someone else's approval." The above quote is in reference to the author wanting to make a career change and spend more time writing and exploring other interests.  I thought the author did a great job showing her struggle with resenting her husband with realizing the many doors that not being a mother opened up. I think this can only be done by having the necessary time to heal and process such complex emotions.  In addition to overcoming her own struggle with not having children the author also dealt with a complex relationship with her parents and their expectations of her, which is something so many of us can relate to.  The author and her husband clearly went through difficulties but as their relationship evolved they came to understand each other deeply. Whatever resentment that may have been there for a brief period was replace by this understanding, openness and beautiful ache.  *Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a digital ARC of this book. This in no way impacts my review. All opinions are my own.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gail Jeidy

    4.5 stars. This very human story brought me to tears throughout and not so much from relating to the “particular” story (I have three kids) but from connecting to the authentic feelings shared regarding the dance of relationship with self and others. I was drawn to the mom/daughter dynamic, both from remembering my own mom (gone for 30 years) and the pain of breaking away from home and becoming my own person, as well as my current incarnation on the flip side via two young 20s daughters. The aut 4.5 stars. This very human story brought me to tears throughout and not so much from relating to the “particular” story (I have three kids) but from connecting to the authentic feelings shared regarding the dance of relationship with self and others. I was drawn to the mom/daughter dynamic, both from remembering my own mom (gone for 30 years) and the pain of breaking away from home and becoming my own person, as well as my current incarnation on the flip side via two young 20s daughters. The author may not be a mom but she embodies the Forest Witcraft quote about how "the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.” I am touched by the author's engagement with so many nieces and nephews. Witcraft was a teacher and so is Hollis in this book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I didn't even totally read this book. The whole time she pined over her decision to have children or not, even though her husband had made it clear he didn't. At one point she considers stopping her birth control to have an "oops" baby, but thankfully doesn't. Her husband seems just as dim here, claiming at the end he didn't know what a struggle it was for her not to have a baby...dude, she kept bringing it up to you over YEARS and you didn't know? Wow. I thought this would be a book about peopl I didn't even totally read this book. The whole time she pined over her decision to have children or not, even though her husband had made it clear he didn't. At one point she considers stopping her birth control to have an "oops" baby, but thankfully doesn't. Her husband seems just as dim here, claiming at the end he didn't know what a struggle it was for her not to have a baby...dude, she kept bringing it up to you over YEARS and you didn't know? Wow. I thought this would be a book about people who chose not to have kids, not this. Autobiography or not, not a great story to be found here.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Kendall

    Choice can be a double edged sword. When couples have the opportunity to decide between them whether they will have children, it presents a dilemma when the two people in the relationship do not agree. Choosing between the love of a partner and the chance to become a parent creates tension. Someone may end up with regrets. This memoir is a poignant description of the author working through this situation with her husband. Her analytical review becomes a memorable exploration of their relationshi Choice can be a double edged sword. When couples have the opportunity to decide between them whether they will have children, it presents a dilemma when the two people in the relationship do not agree. Choosing between the love of a partner and the chance to become a parent creates tension. Someone may end up with regrets. This memoir is a poignant description of the author working through this situation with her husband. Her analytical review becomes a memorable exploration of their relationship, and also of her own life experience and what drives her desire. “Maybe this thing I called wanting a child was a distraction from a bigger need: to understand why I was here, why I was alive. My need to justify myself.” The author’s sincere soul searching is touching and mesmerizes as it builds in its intensity. Her history is revealed as she remembers it, and how she feels it. A picture is painted of her life experiences. The resulting portrait shows wrinkles from the consequences that left strong emotions beneath the surface. As she struggles with her inner passions and unresolved issues, she tries to persuade her husband to change his mind, hoping he will not stand firm in his choice not to become a father. In the meantime the author describes that “Life made a path around the wanting.” Despite our personal trials and tribulations, life has a habit of moving forward at a relentless pace. For this family decision, that also sets up a ticking clock which increases the urgency of an acceptance of a final decision between them. Can true happiness be found in a childless love story? Join this passionate woman on her very personal and heartfelt journey of discovery. This memoir resonates especially with couples who have faced this pull at their heart, but also it’s a revelation for those who have chosen parenthood. When these difficult struggles surface the author has a life lesson to share. “Death can come at any moment. Be present, or you will miss your life.” Think of choosing this book for your book club. A readers’ guide is included for a lively discussion. Jackie Shannon Hollis is a lifelong Oregonian, and resides with her husband in a home her friends call the tree house.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sherrey

    In society today, we celebrate the label "mother" more than any other label given to women. To decide against being a mother seems foreign and strange to many of our culture.   But Jackie Shannon Hollis chose between her husband's love and childlessness. She writes about her choice in This Particular Happiness: A Childless Love Story. Hollis opens the door on her own feelings and emotions at play in making this decision.   When Hollis and her husband attend a family gathering, she is the only woman In society today, we celebrate the label "mother" more than any other label given to women. To decide against being a mother seems foreign and strange to many of our culture.   But Jackie Shannon Hollis chose between her husband's love and childlessness. She writes about her choice in This Particular Happiness: A Childless Love Story. Hollis opens the door on her own feelings and emotions at play in making this decision.   When Hollis and her husband attend a family gathering, she is the only woman in the group without a child. Making such a decision doesn't mean we don't look back and wonder if it was the right choice. Hollis had moments and days when she wondered this very thing. Past relationships played a role in both Hollis's feelings and those of the man she married.   Over time, Hollis talked with her husband about the possibilities of having children. She felt as if she were missing something, but not with certainty what it was. Yet, their discussions never altered their decisions.   Hollis offers her readers an opportunity to experience pressures and tensions from others. A couple's choices, such as childlessness, bring out family and friends with opinions. This is a suitable book for individuals considering childlessness. It provides an overview of certain issues that may come up in conversation with others.   Hollis is authentic in revealing this tender and emotional time in her life. Bringing this book into the public arena took courage on the part of both Hollis and her husband, Bill.   This memoir is well written and structured. The story unfolds with each chapter and in a timely fashion. Hollis's voice is strong and bold. She paints a detailed description of her feelings. *** My thanks to Jackie Shannon Hollis and Forest Avenue Press for providing an Advance Reader's Copy to me in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are solely mine.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Martha

    3.5 I had to let this one sit with me for a while for a few days before I felt I could rate it. Which is probably due to the fact that I could relate to several aspects, specially right off the bat in relation to her family's reaction to her decision in not having children, because that has also been my chosen choice as well. And while I wasn't the greatest fan of the writing here per say, I can't deny that several specific passages, or even just a sentence alone here or there, would knock the wi 3.5 I had to let this one sit with me for a while for a few days before I felt I could rate it. Which is probably due to the fact that I could relate to several aspects, specially right off the bat in relation to her family's reaction to her decision in not having children, because that has also been my chosen choice as well. And while I wasn't the greatest fan of the writing here per say, I can't deny that several specific passages, or even just a sentence alone here or there, would knock the wind out of me, for how on point it was which feelings or emotions I myself have had or had to encounter, yet never fully being able to articulate them myself in terms of how I feel about not wanting children, the doubts about it or questioning my choice not so much because of me, but because of what others comments perhaps made me question myself. I'm 100 % comfortable and confident in my decision today, but again, could completely recall feeling EXACTLY how Jackie expresses herself a time or two along the way. And yet....something that really rubbed me the wrong way, was how she kept somewhat subtlety (and not so subtly) trying to place blame on Bill for holding her back, or expressing a sort of resentment toward him for not changing his mind on this matter. I understand that people CAN change their minds, and have every right to change their minds, but to assume that you'll be able to do that, or more so- EXPECT it of another person on such a personal and life changing matter, is just unfair, unreasonable, and selfish. That more than anything, rubbed me the wrong way throughout this memoir, as it was a point of contention on an off throughout.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Robin Tzucker

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Grabbed this at the library the other day for no particular reason other than the title. As someone who always knew I wanted kids (and had three of them) I think I was hoping for a look into someone else's world who had made a different choice and was happy with it. However....Jackie never does seem happy with her choice. She pines for a child for years and years, she hints, she cajoles, she asks, she considers stopping her birth control to see what might happen (but doesn't). When tragedy strik Grabbed this at the library the other day for no particular reason other than the title. As someone who always knew I wanted kids (and had three of them) I think I was hoping for a look into someone else's world who had made a different choice and was happy with it. However....Jackie never does seem happy with her choice. She pines for a child for years and years, she hints, she cajoles, she asks, she considers stopping her birth control to see what might happen (but doesn't). When tragedy strikes her family she finally seems somewhat reconciled to her choice, but happy? Not so sure about that. And the ending? When her husband finally acknowledges that maybe he made a mistake by not wanting kids? Ugh....my heart would break all over again. She says at that point that she's not sorry, and I hope it's true, but the entire story itself really felt like a story of her wanting and her giving up because she didn't want to lose her husband. Not really childless by choice at all. And I had to wonder- given how she spent so much time talking about all the self-help classes they both took, how honesty was such an important part of their relationship, why on earth didn't they see a counselor in those early years who could have helped them speak about this in ways that maybe would have let Bill know how much she desperately wanted a child? Why does he only realize it when it's too late? That doesn't feel very honest to me.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mónica

    I would recommend this book to a lot of people, far beyond those that may be struggling with the decision to have (or not) children or trying to make peace with the decision (or forced choices that life hands down to us). At the center of Jackie Shannon’s book is the question of partnership, particularly of the very fine balance one must have in any sort of long-term relationship, between sacrificing for the sake of the union and standing up to one’s non-negotiable principles. Jackie struggles wi I would recommend this book to a lot of people, far beyond those that may be struggling with the decision to have (or not) children or trying to make peace with the decision (or forced choices that life hands down to us). At the center of Jackie Shannon’s book is the question of partnership, particularly of the very fine balance one must have in any sort of long-term relationship, between sacrificing for the sake of the union and standing up to one’s non-negotiable principles. Jackie struggles with pressing questions: Can such sacrifice be made without one person becoming bitter? (In Shannon’s case, her worries about remaining childless along with/for/in spite of her husband manifest in the fear that she’ll end up “a bitter, lonely old woman like Aunt Lena”. Nevermind, Aunt Lena never seemed bitter to her and that she was a smiling woman up until she died.) Should we “get over” things that have been agreed upon or should we keep honoring our needs by venting them to our partners in appropriate ways? Are there irreconcilable differences in relationships that will only amount for regret and pain later on? Jackie Shannon does such a great job at tackling these questions in this memoir, albeit with a weak beginning- the first chapters had me thinking it was going to be a book about resenting your partner. Overall, Shannon’s book has all the elements that make this genre enjoyable: the self-awareness (she can recount the ways in which she avoided friends who had what she desired); the fun and sweet moments with her husband (who seems like a really cool guy), and a good dose of introspection (she discovers patterns of her own easy impulsiveness to changing her life for her partners but finds herself being overly cautious about committing to motherhood). Overall, a great read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brendan Hutchins

    I always thought I’d never have kids, so I kind of had it in my mind that I didn’t want them, too. Early childhood into my teens I thought I wouldn’t have anyone to raise them with. When I got married at 20, it was with someone I didn’t want to raise children with, so I got a vasectomy (😉 you’re welcome, ladies [I’m not sure how well my sarcasm comes across, but it’s there!]) and kept “we can always adopt” as an easy out of any conversation about kids, never once actually looking into the logist I always thought I’d never have kids, so I kind of had it in my mind that I didn’t want them, too. Early childhood into my teens I thought I wouldn’t have anyone to raise them with. When I got married at 20, it was with someone I didn’t want to raise children with, so I got a vasectomy (😉 you’re welcome, ladies [I’m not sure how well my sarcasm comes across, but it’s there!]) and kept “we can always adopt” as an easy out of any conversation about kids, never once actually looking into the logistics of that process. Throughout that marriage and before, I also didn’t want to become my father, or father as he did, which was another big deterrent from the idea of kids. I find myself at a point in my life, divorced, home-owning, business-owning, newly partnered to a joyful, interesting, insightful, uplifting, compassionate, and engaging woman, who happens to not only want kids but want them with me, and I’m considering for the first time, seriously, about raising little humans. This book could not have found me at a better time. Well written, well considered, well executed, and well, a tear jerker! Shit! Jackie!! Wow. Like... no spoilers but Fuck! Jackie does an amazing job putting her heart and soul in the ink, bearing all for our amusement and edification. Truly a wonderful read. It didn’t hold any answers, but so much to think about, which is the best one can hope for.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Gilion Dumas

    Jackie Shannon Hollis is a writer, storyteller, and speaker who grew up with the assumption she would get married and have kids. When she fell in love with a man who didn't want children, she had to examine her assumptions and chose a different path. Her new memoir, This Particular Happiness: A Childless Love Story (Forest Avenue Press), looks back on her happy life without children of her own. Hollis shines a light on the complex decisions around becoming a parent or not. She looks at her upbrin Jackie Shannon Hollis is a writer, storyteller, and speaker who grew up with the assumption she would get married and have kids. When she fell in love with a man who didn't want children, she had to examine her assumptions and chose a different path. Her new memoir, This Particular Happiness: A Childless Love Story (Forest Avenue Press), looks back on her happy life without children of her own. Hollis shines a light on the complex decisions around becoming a parent or not. She looks at her upbringing and how it influenced her choices in relationships and the question of whether to become a parent. She considers how much of her longing for kids came from external pressure and how much was her own desire. She examines her husband’s history and what made him uninterested in becoming a parent – and why she still wanted to build a life with him. While the book focuses on the decision to become a parent, it has broader appeal as a book about self-discovery. Hollis explores this bigger topic of trying to find one's true self. The ultimate message of her book is that happiness is beautifully complex, and we each have our own “particular” way of being happy. The title reflects Hollis's surprise at finding happiness in life she didn’t expect, a “happiness” made of being present for all the joys and pains of being alive.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    Really liked this book. It’s been rare to find a book by someone who was “childless by circumstance” - almost all other books I’ve seen were people relishing their child free lives or sharing their infertility journey, which wasn’t the story I was hoping to read. This one was much closer to what I was hoping for. Jackie Shannon Hollis is a fantastic writer and everything flowed so well. The way she weaves her desire for a child and her own backstory was great. It became a little slow and dull whe Really liked this book. It’s been rare to find a book by someone who was “childless by circumstance” - almost all other books I’ve seen were people relishing their child free lives or sharing their infertility journey, which wasn’t the story I was hoping to read. This one was much closer to what I was hoping for. Jackie Shannon Hollis is a fantastic writer and everything flowed so well. The way she weaves her desire for a child and her own backstory was great. It became a little slow and dull when those points converged into her talking about her courtship and then relationship with her husband. I felt like the thread of talking about not having children became lost and muddled for a bit, but then it circles back around in time. On the whole, it was great. I think she had some really eye opening things to say that helped me put my own life into perspective a bit more. At times I identified with her more than I perhaps even wanted to and it made me feel a little pinch of discomfort in knowing I am still in the “figuring out” stage of my life versus the comfortable spot she ended up in. But I feel much better than I did before I read this. It also helped me to start tough conversations I had been trying to tamp down, so I really appreciate that.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alan Pavett

    I first read this book as a manuscript, I found it deeply personal, something shared between friends. I now read it in print as a book, and it has matured, become more rounded, and something to be shared with everyone. As a manuscript I found it difficult to divorce myself from the Jackie (and Bill) that I know and love. As a book it has transformed into a life story that any adult can identify with. Should I ? Shouldn’t I ? Yes I will. No I won’t. What if………Jackie helps us explore ourselves thr I first read this book as a manuscript, I found it deeply personal, something shared between friends. I now read it in print as a book, and it has matured, become more rounded, and something to be shared with everyone. As a manuscript I found it difficult to divorce myself from the Jackie (and Bill) that I know and love. As a book it has transformed into a life story that any adult can identify with. Should I ? Shouldn’t I ? Yes I will. No I won’t. What if………Jackie helps us explore ourselves through her own thoughts and decisions and predicaments. She helps us to understand our choices or those of others and how to make life work with them. This is not just a must for anyone coming to terms with childness, it is a must for anyone who just likes to see a slice of real life, honest and true. The audiobook is going to be an amazing experience, I just know it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I haven't had the same experience with making the choice to not have children as Jackie writes about. However, there are so many other human experiences and emotions she touches upon that resonated with me. Her honesty and willingness to expose her vulnerabilities made me not want to put this book down. At times I felt myself tearing up. It is obvious how much her family and relationships mean to her, and how complex they can be at times. Jackie doesn't shy away from exploring those relationship I haven't had the same experience with making the choice to not have children as Jackie writes about. However, there are so many other human experiences and emotions she touches upon that resonated with me. Her honesty and willingness to expose her vulnerabilities made me not want to put this book down. At times I felt myself tearing up. It is obvious how much her family and relationships mean to her, and how complex they can be at times. Jackie doesn't shy away from exploring those relationships.

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