Peter Ho Davies’ book A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself is a book about the giant leap into anxiety and uncertainty known as parenthood. And it’s the rare book about parenthood – and abortion – written by a man. The main characters, an unnamed husband and wife, choose to abort a pregnancy when they learned that there was a significant chance that their child would be born with mosaicism, a rare but serious genetic condition. Yet, when they get pregnant again and have a son, they experience more uncertainty, including a potential autism diagnosis. Davies’ novel, intensely personal, is an unflinching look at parenthood and its ups and downs, its joys and fears.
Why I picked it up: I read about A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself somewhere and put a hold on it at the library. My mood reading sent me in its direction before a business trip and I picked it up.
A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself is a quick read, but some pages were so deeply moving and incisive that I had to reread them. It’s a work of fiction, but it’s also clearly a very personal book based on Davies’ own experience. He talks about the heartbreaking process of boxing up your child’s clothes when he outgrows them, donating toys that were once cherished and now hold no appeal (or even memory!), that moment when you realize your kid has secrets that he doesn’t want to share. Oof. Yes. So hard. And the author’s intense love for his son makes the earlier decision to have an abortion even more difficult (though he remains deeply committed to the right to have an abortion, volunteering to escort women at a clinic where pro-lifers demonstrate). He also writes honestly about the impact that having a child has on his marriage, how sometimes parents are partners, sometimes adversaries, but always inextricably linked.
A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself may not take long to read, but it packs a punch.
A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself was book #53 of 2021.