Christa Parravani was forty years old, in a troubled marriage, and in bad financial straits when she learned she was pregnant with her third child. She and her family were living in Morgantown, West Virginia, where she had taken a professorial position at the local university.
Haunted by a childhood steeped in poverty and violence and by young adult years rocked by the tragic death of her identical twin sister, Christa hoped her professor’s salary and health care might set her and her young family on a safe and steady path. Instead, one year after the birth of her second child, Christa found herself pregnant again. Six weeks into the pregnancy, she requested an abortion. And in the weeks, then months, that followed, nurses obfuscated and doctors refused outright or feared being found out to the point of, ultimately, becoming unavailable to provide Christa with reproductive choice.
By the time Christa understood that she would need to leave West Virginia to obtain a safe, legal abortion, she’d run out of time. She had failed to imagine that she might not have access to reproductive choice in the United States, until it was too late for her, her pregnancy too far along.
So she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Keats. And another frightening education began: available healthcare was dangerously inadequate to her newborn son’s needs; indeed, environmental degradations and poor healthcare endangered Christa’s older children as well.
Loved and Wanted is the passionate story of a woman’s love for her children, and a poignant and bracing look at the difficult choices women in America are forced to make every day, in a nation where policies and a cultural war on women leave them without sufficient agency over their bodies, their futures, and even their hopes for their children’s lives.
"[Parravani] dissects the complexity of choice, how our own trauma and relationships inform it, as well as policy and access. She reveals the cost to us all when we fail to openly personalize the politics of abortion in America."—The New York Times Book Review
"From the guts. Parravani takes her life in hand and confronts the institutions and attitudes that oppress her and countless women just like her . . . Parravani's narrative is an American story. It doesn't just hit close to the bone; it reveals the skeleton."—Los Angeles Review of Books
"Achingly personal . . . [Parravani reveals] the ways in which the American health care system denies women agency over their own bodies and their children's futures."—Entertainment Weekly
"What emerges is not simply a portrait of Parravani's difficult marriage, painful health issues and stressful financial burdens but a complex picture of the unsayable circumstances that shape one woman's relationship to her body, to her choice to have children or not and the cost of that decision. In saying the unsayable, Parravani is unflinching and brave."—BookPage
"Unflinchingly honest, Christa Parravani lays bare the terrors, exhaustion and the great sacrifice of a parent trying to provide a healthy life for her family. An inspired memoir—and a reminder of the serious metal required of every ordinary woman."—Stephanie Danler, New York Times bestselling author of Sweetbitter and Stray
"Groundbreaking . . . A fierce and essential explication of the many forces that constrain reproductive freedom. In a country riven by the need to reduce, to simplify, to ignore, Loved and Wanted challenges us to pay attention, to hold complexity, and to understand why we have to do better."—Merritt Tierce, author of Love Me Back
"Christa Parravani is one of our great memoirists. Loved and Wanted is a breathtaking book of life and death. Parravani provides a firsthand account from the front lines of a woman's right to choose. This story is a classic tale of the mountains. A story of how people arrive and leave, struggle and stay, and how they grapple with their ghosts."—Scott McClannahan, author of The Sarah Book and Crapalachia
"Heavily pregnant, with young children and an absent husband, living in an Appalachian hellscape featuring appalling medical care and white supremacist violence, Parravani writes, 'It occurred to me that I might die . . . as a woman dies, with child.' This book is a deceptively languid segment of the unending story of women forsaken by misogynistic cultures, religions, corporations, and governments. It is a book that accurately depicts—its brilliant metaphors glittering like diamonds—how much some Americans want women to suffer. Everyone should read this book."—Sarah Manguso, author of 300 Arguments and Ongoing
"The power of Christa Parravani’s memoir almost eclipses the world of mere words. It is at once a lyrical meditation on motherhood, and a fierce examination of the double bind of pregnancy in a world in which women’s choices are bound, and increasingly threatened, by the moral definitions and feeble politics of men. I want everyone to read it, to see the ways in which she navigates what most of us are never courageous enough to say. The book burrowed into some secret place in me, a place where it will exist not for weeks, or months, or even years, but forever. In my life, I will never forget this book. Read it. This is all I can say. You must read it.”—Rachel Louise Snyder, award-winning author of No Visible Bruises and What We’ve Lost is Nothing
“Here is searing testimony from the frontlines of American womanhood. Loved and Wanted is the story of one woman's fight to decide what's best for herself and her family. In gorgeous prose, this memoir simmers with anger at injustice and the fierce love of children. Parravani writes about the complexities of motherhood with warmth, dazzling imagery and a rogue sense of humor. Her heartbreaking and inspiring story—of seeking abortion and safe childbirth, caring for husband and kids—lays bare a broken system that denies fundamental human rights to women who can't afford to pay for them.”—Kate Manning, author of My Notorious Life
"Intimate, affecting . . . A candid, personal look at the political and cultural forces shaping women’s lives."—Kirkus Reviews
"[A] luminous, complex story . . . visceral, yet metaphoric . . . A welcome addition to women's narratives . . . In a time when the wars waged on women’s sexual bodies are happening in multiple, intersecting ways, especially through individual organizations and agencies’ attempts to stop women from asking for or receiving what they are legally allowed to request, Parravani’s story is cautionary and a call to action; as personal as it is political."—Library Journal
“Searing . . . A devastating indictment of how environmental contamination and inadequate healthcare harmed [Parravani’s] children born in West Virginia. This is a powerful account of what many women face in the U.S. today.”—Publishers Weekly
It was the last day of my old life. The third week of October 2017. The year I turned forty.
Jo was at school. Iris was at daycare. I didn’t know where my husband, Tony, was.
It’s peculiar what I can’t forget....