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Homing Instincts

Early Motherhood on a Midwestern Farm

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


Long-Listed for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay

Sarah Menkedick spent her twenties trekking alone across South America, teaching English to recalcitrant teenagers on Reunion Island, picking grapes in France and camping on the Mongolian grasslands; for her, meaning and purpose were to be found on the road, in flight from the ordinary. Yet the biggest and most transformative adventure of her life might be one she never anticipated: at 31, she moves into a tiny 19th-century cabin on her family's Ohio farm, and begins the journey into motherhood.
In eight vivid and boldly questioning essays, Menkedick explores the luminous, disorienting time just before and after becoming a mother. As she reacquaints herself with the subtle landscapes of the Midwest, and adjusts to the often surprising physicality of pregnancy, she ruminates on what this new stage of life means for her long-held concepts of self, settling, and creative fulfillment. In “Millie, Mildred, Grandma Menkedick,” she considers the nature of story through the life of her tough German grandmother, who raised two boys as a single mother in the 1950s and then spent her seventies traveling the world with her best friend Marge; in “Motherland,” on a trip back to Oaxaca, Mexico to visit her husband’s family, she finally embraces her Midwestern roots; in “The Milk Cave,” she discovers in breastfeeding a new appreciation for the spiritual and artistic potential of boredom; and in “The Lake,” she revisits her childhood with her father, whose relentless optimism and mystical streak she sees anew once she has a child of her own.
A story of a traveler come home to the farm; of becoming a mother in spite of reservations and doubt; and of learning to appreciate the power and beauty of the quotidian, Homing Instincts speaks to the deepest concerns and hopes of a generation.

From Publishers Weekly

Jan 30, 2017 – Menkedick, a native Midwesterner, spent her 20s traveling around the globe alone, seeking out landscapes and people different from her home. Whether she was picking grapes in France or teaching English on R union Island, Menkedick was "using myself like a Monopoly piece, moving around the globe to acquire experience and knowledge." At 31, she and her husband moved back home to live in a small cabin on her family's farm in Ohio and have a baby. Menkedick's intensely intimate collection of essays chronicles her journey from early adulthood, as a young woman who "confused travel with experience and experience with self-definition" into maturity. She beautifully depicts the physiological changes and emotional battles that took place in her mind and body as she and her husband adjusted to their new sedentary life. Menkedick is a superb storyteller and her writing is filled with remarkable scientific and literary references. She explores her reinvigorated relationship with the Midwestern landscape, seeing quiet beauty in an environment she once longed to leave behind. She details the normal day-to-day tensions between her and her husband during the pregnancy. She takes comfort in her close family relationships while contemplating her new identity as a pregnant woman and mother-to-be. This is a moving and deeply personal look at one woman's transformation.
Homing Instincts
View in iTunes
  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Parenting
  • Published: May 02, 2017
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 272 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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