The Joy and Grief of Motherhood

Meet the Authors...

Morgan Baker writes about family, mental health, dogs, change, and identity in her award-winning memoir Emptying the Nest: Getting Better at Good-byes (Ten16 Press). Other work of hers can be found in the Boston Globe Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, The Martha’s Vineyard Times, Dorothy Parker’s Ashes, Grown & Flown, Motherwell, and the Brevity Blog, among others. She is a professor at Emerson College and managing editor of The Bucket. She is the mother of two adult daughters and lives with her husband and two Portuguese water dogs in Cambridge, MA. She is an avid quilter and baker.


The award-winning Emptying the Nest: Getting Better at Goodbyes is about reinventing yourself, learning how to handle loss, and emerging from depression. When Morgan’s daughter, Maggie, left for college and Morgan also parted with nine puppies from a litter the family raised, she collapsed into a deep depression. Eventually climbed out of her hole and adjusted. and, with a lot of help, did better when her younger daughter left for school, and Maggie and her boyfriend moved to the west coast. Her identity had shifted. She was more than a mother.


Nicole Graev Lipson is the author of the forthcoming memoir in essays Mothers and Other Fictional Characters (Chronicle Books, February 2025). Her writing has appeared in Virginia Quarterly ReviewThe SunThe Gettysburg Review, The MillionsThe Washington Post, and The Boston Globe, among other publications. Her work has been awarded a Pushcart Prize, nominated for a National Magazine Award, and selected for The Best American Essays 2024 anthology. Originally from New York City, Lipson received her MFA from Emerson College and lives in Brookline, MA, with her family.

Mothers and Other Fictional Characters combines intimate storytelling and literary reportage to explore the blurry boundary between truth and fiction when one is a woman, and how the stories we inherit can estrange us from our deepest yearnings. What does it take to escape the plotlines mapped onto us? How can we claim imaginative control of our own life stories? Weaving scenes from her own life as a girl, woman and mother with the insights of her her literary forebears—from Kate Chopin and Emily Dickinson to Gwendolyn Brooks and Doris Lessing—Lipson charts her journey toward claiming something women are seldom encouraged to claim: the freedom and power of being more than one thing, of multiplicity.


Jessica Fein is the author of Breath Taking: A Memoir of Family, Dreams, and Broken Genes, and host of the "I Don't Know How You Do It” podcast, which features people whose lives seem unimaginable and who triumph over seemingly impossible challenges. Her writing has been featured in Newsweek, Psychology Today, The Boston Globe, HuffPost, Scary Mommy, Kveller, and more. Jessica is a working mother and a relentless warrior in the memory of her dynamic daughter whom she lost to rare disease in 2022. Her work encompasses hope and humor, grit and grace -- the tools that make up her personal survival kit. She’s the mother of three, whom she and her husband adopted from Guatemala. They live outside of Boston with their quasi-service dog, who trained himself. 


Breath Taking: A Memoir of Family, Dreams, and Broken Genes is an epic story of what we inherit, what we fight for, and what we create. 

At the age of five Jessica daughter Dalia was diagnosed with a rare degenerative disease that would claim her life at 17. Before that moment came, and inspired by Dalia’s own irrepressible spirit, Fein and her family would discover how to live in the present when the future can’t be fixed. In this heartfelt yet clear-eyed memoir, Fein maps both her journey to becoming an adoptive mom and the roller coaster ride of loving and caring for a terminally ill child, persevering when the simple act of taking a breath can become an act of courage. Through it all, she discovers the need to be both relentless advocate and calm presence, to show vulnerability as well as strength, and to allow joy to be louder than sorrow.


Meet the Moderator...

Jean Stehle (steel) is a school librarian, writer, and bookfluencer. She works for Newton Public Schools, where she takes pride in creating an inclusive learning environment where facts matter and all students are book lovers, even if they don’t know it yet. Jean is currently revising her coming-of-middle-age novel. She has consulted for PBS Learning Media and collaborates with bookstores to host author events. She lives in Newton with her husband, two children, and countless books. Follow her on Instagram at: @jeanstehle_ to discover your next great read.

Event date: 
Thursday, June 13, 2024 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Event address: 
338 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02115
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