Shop books, jigsaw puzzles, and more! Learn more »

For more great books from Algonquin, visit Algonquin.com.

Flesh & Blood

Reflections on Infertility, Family, and Creating a Bountiful Life: A Memoir

By N. West Moss

“A healing balm, this inviting memoir lights a path through grief and illness." — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

A remarkable memoir that breaks the silence about infertility—and will resonate with millions of women.

“I drive and say to myself, if I am dying, if this is how I die, then this is how I die.” When N. West Moss finds herself bleeding uncontrollably in the middle of a writing class, she drives herself to the hospital. Doctors are baffled, but eventually a diagnosis—hemangioma—is determined and a hysterectomy is scheduled. We follow Moss through her surgery, complications, and recovery as her thoughts turn to her previous struggles with infertility, to grief and healing, to what it means to leave a legacy.

Moss’s wise, droll voice and limitless curiosity lift this beautiful memoir beyond any narrow focus. Among her interests: yellow fever, good cocktails, the history of New Orleans, and, always, the natural world, including the praying mantis in her sunroom whom she names Claude. And we learn about the inspiring women in Moss’s family—her mother, her grandmother, and her great-grandmother—as she sorts out her feeling that this line will end with her. But Moss discovers that there are other ways besides having children to make a mark, and that grief is not a stopping place but a companion that travels along with us through everything, even happiness.

With public figures like Chrissy Teigen and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, speaking out about infertility recently, women are eager for voices that acknowledge their struggles. Fans of Lena Dunham, Leslie Jamison, and Jenny Lawson—along with readers of medical memoirs like When Breath Becomes Air and The Bright Hour—will find that connection in Moss’s Flesh & Blood.

Read more

$25.95 (US)

Shipping to the U.S. only. Please see our International FAQ for more information.

Pre-Order From
Meet the Author
N. West Moss headshot

N. West Moss

More about the author
Review quotes
“An engaging, even charming memoir . . . It feels like Moss is taking our hands and allowing us to accompany her on this journey. Her careful, lovely sentences and good-humored and thoughtful observations seem to be . . . part of her healing . . . This inviting memoir lights a path through grief and illness.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Moss’s meditations on questions her experience have raised are full of calm maturity and quiet humor and give this book an appeal beyond its expected audience . . . Moss’s contemplations on life in general will resonate with women who are seeking peace and meaning in their own lives.”
Library Journal

Flesh & Blood sparks and consoles. So frank and warm and full of humor, this book became a friend to me. I want to keep its tenderness and stunning wisdom always as my guide.”
Jackie Polzin, author of Brood
 
“N. West Moss is an exemplary talent. The words come alive on the page. You feel as though you are living inside this luminous book.”
Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The House of Broken Angels
 
“N. West Moss doesn't romanticize our world; she loves it honestly, in all its messiness. As I read Flesh & Blood I saw not only that world but also the human body anew. This memoir is a tender, elegant, wry meditation on being a woman, being sick, and recovering; on reading and nature; on loving foremothers and rendering them into history with word rather than womb."
V.V. Ganeshananthan, co-host, "Fiction/Non/Fiction" podcast, Literary Hub, and author of Love Marriage

“Part journey into the dark crevices of illness, but also a paean to the joys of the daily world, N. West Moss opens her arms wide and embraces the reader with her brilliant—and hilarious—observations. This book uncovers the wonderful ‘brightness in the middle’ for anyone who has navigated medical puzzles, grief, or just . . . life.”
—Marie Myung-Ok Lee, author of Somebody’s Daughter
 
“N. West Moss brings us on a journey that is both medical and spiritual. We experience the vertiginous churn of diagnosis and treatment, but also the liberating clarity of connection with the world. Honest, thoughtful, and courageous.”
—Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD, author of When We Do Harm: A Doctor Confronts Medical Error
 
 “A captivating, multilayered story of perseverance. It turns out that the real subject of Flesh & Blood is not so much illness as the author’s ever-regenerating powers of vision, her appreciation of the tangible world, the beauty of the here and now.”
—Zachary Lazar, author of Vengeance
 
“An amazing book! Moss has a gift for describing stones, plants, celery soup and even praying mantises as needed accompaniments to sickness and recovery, along with her kind husband and generous mother. Her singular stories, honesty, and sly humor infuse this memoir of illness not with sadness, but joy.”
—Theresa Brown, New York Times bestselling author of The Shift

“With a series of gentle incisions, this memoir cuts deep. Moss shows us a grief and gladness that, until now, we could not name.”
—Martha Witt, author of Broken As Things Are
 
Product Details
Categories
Number of pages
320
Publication date
October 12, 2021
ISBN
9781643750705