The Birth of Hope

This review is sponsored, but all the opinions and thoughts expressed on this post are mine alone and honest.

image courtesy of

Giveaway is now Closed!!!!

Have you ever wondered about prenatal and perinatal mental health?  With all the hormonal surges and physical changes, mental health was one of the last things that I thought about.  Honestly, as a sufferer of postpartum depression, you would think that  I would think more about this.

The Birth of Hope is written by Jeane Rhodes, PhD and was published in 2009.  Author, Jeane Rhodes, Ph.D., is a licensed professional counselor using sandplay as her primary therapeutic tool. She teaches online for Santa Barbara Graduate Institute. She formerly served as associate editor of the Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health, and worked in the foster care system as a therapist and in various management capacities. She has also been a yoga instructor, active in local, national, and international yoga organizations. Her master's thesis, titled Mind Made Visible: Psychotherapeutic Application of Yoga Asana,@ brought this experience with yoga into her psychology studies. Interest in pre- and perinatal psychology led to interviews with young children regarding their birth memories. Research continued with her Ph.D. dissertation, which explored the prenatal expression of yoga postures and subsequent echoes in the body of prenatal and birth experience. On a very personal level, she was a teen parent herself and brings the emotional reality of that experience to the creation of The Birth of Hope.  Dr. Rhodes introduces the concept of perinatal mental health and explores prenatal mental health in depth.

From  The Birth of Hope is the story of a baby named Hope, from her conception through her birth as the child of teen parents who are in foster care at the time of her conception. Hope's story is one of coming into this world through parents who, in spite of their age and other challenges, are very attuned to their baby throughout her gestation. This story inspires new awareness of the importance of the prenatal and birth stages of life. You will come to love Hope and her teen parents as you experience the momentous events of her gestation. Her coming changes not only her parents, but the supportive community that forms around them.

This book is not a regular textbook, however.  The Birth of Hope is a novel about two young teenagers (Tasha and Justin) who are in the foster care system who unintentionally create a baby.  It deals with the different struggles they deal with as teens in foster families, and that brings in the tension and conflict of beginning this pregnancy with so many pre-existing external stresses.  With the strain of their family situations, the therapist works with Tasha to reveal those stressors and free them.  

She uses some interesting techniques.  I say this coming from someone who is not in the psychology world at all. All in all, Charise (the therapist) is able to  give Tasha tools to manage what seems so overwhelming.

Tasha and Justin must grow up quickly and make many adult decisions concerning the best next steps they should take.  For growing up in the foster care system, they both handle everything very maturely--giving hope to anyone who is in the same situation.  It does not portray the foster system as evil but as a reality these kids must struggle through.

It's a unique book for anyone who is interested in exploring pyschology, exploring perinatal development, or exploring avenues for positive sex education. This book reminded me of the movie JunoThe Birth of Hope's setting and ultimate conclusion are different than Juno, but they both are raw.  They don't mince words or emotions.  They present reality as it is, and you can take it or choose to ignore it.  Ignoring it, however, doesn't change the facts.  And I appreciated this book for that reason even though there were times I read the book with a look of horror on my face.

The book ends from Baby Hope's perspective of being born.  It was such a pleasant picture that it was a great way to end such a hard book.

The Good:
  • I liked how The Birth of Hope dealt with Tasha's choices surrounding pregnancy.  Abortion was suggested just once and Tasha dismissed it immediately.  For this life-is-a-gift mama, I was thrilled that Tasha's thoughts were like mine.
  • I liked how much Justin was involved and how he overcame trials to be involved with his baby.  I liked how he claimed his responsibility and rights as soon as he knew about her.
  • I liked how this book wrapped flesh around some very vague concepts and ideas.  It was more than just a philosophical discussion.  It was a practical example of perinatal and prenatal pyschology.
  • Some of the descriptions of Tasha's past were very difficult to read.  This book is definitely not for teenagers.  I felt sick to my stomach (which shows an effective narrative).
  • Each chapter focused primarily on one topic without complicating the storyline.  This made it very helpful to understand the topic Dr. Rhodes was expressing.
The Not So Good:
  • At times, I noticed that Tasha wasn't really speaking like a regular 15 year old.  She seemed to know what she was struggling with and the times that she didn't, she spoke very calmly and articulated that she didn't know what she was feeling.  It was very hard for me to believe that she wasn't just having emotional meltdown after emotional meltdown.
  • Sometimes when the therapist spoke, I was lost in her long-winded explanations.  In those explanations, I felt like I was reading a textbook.  I believe that those explanations were necessary for Dr. Rhodes to be able to convey her message, but I wasn't always ready to read it.
  • There were parts where I thought the narrative was a bit simplistic.
Overall, I enjoyed this book--if you can say enjoy regarding two kids who have had a tough life already and now involved in even more complex life issues.  I'm glad I read it.

And now here's the good news!

It's Giveaway Time!

I have been given the opportunity to give away this book to one lucky reader!
This giveaway will be open until noon central time on Wednesday, February 29, 2012.

Just leave a comment regarding why you are curious about The Birth of Hope.


Jodi@ said...

Well, you have me curious for sure. Since I became a mom as a teenager (senior year of high school), & my degree is in Psychology & Sociology, I'm always interested in books that portray a teenagers struggle with parenthood. And since I have a teenager who will soon be "out of the nest", I'm also always on the lookout for informative books for her and I to discuss. I purchased the book that Karen reviewed the other day. I've yet to read it, and I just left it on the counter for Christen and it's not there. So I'm guessing she's reading it now. (I didn't want to push her)

So yes! I'd love to have a chance of winning. I'll spread the word too. ;)

Megan Sutliff said...

I'm interested in reading this book, I have a passion to help young pregnant girls stuggling and am in school for my Psychology-Christian Counseling degree. Hope to win!

Kat said...

looks like an interesting book