Book Review: Unburdening
Reviewed by Jaylynn Korrell
An honest, down-to-earth look at abortions and the women who have them
In Teresa Benitez’s Unburdening, readers get a raw look at a life story. With an honest flair, Benitez dives into her past and takes the taboo out of a few controversial subjects.
Benitez suffered abuse from a young age. She recounts physical attacks at the hands of her mother. As one of four siblings. there were a lot of comparisons between her and her brothers and sisters. During the times she pined for acceptance, she was often met with rejection.
These early experiences impacted her significantly. As she got older, she turned to alcohol and promiscuity in her teens and early twenties. Then, while in college, she discovered that she was pregnant. This was the first of 4 documented pregnancies that Benitez had, and each required her to make the difficult decision of whether or not to have the child.
There is a lot of pain in Unburdening, and much of it stems from Benitez’s relationship with her mother. From her early years experiencing physical and mental abuse to her adult years trying to better understand where it all came from, it would be oversimplified to say that this mother-daughter relationship is complicated. But I don’t think it’s uncommon.
Readers will have different experiences reading this book depending on how they identify themselves. As a daughter and mother myself, I went through all of the emotions during this reading experience. Benitez does her best to recount her life’s history the way she remembers it, but you won’t be able to read this book without considering too what her mother has been through.
Benitez saw her mother in a new light as she became a mother herself. Through that experience, she learned to give her mother some grace, despite their tumultuous relationship, and she moved forward with trying to end the pattern of generational trauma in her family. Her contemplations on motherhood and her own childhood after having a daughter are some of my favorite parts of the book.
With raw emotion and matter of fact logic, Benitez made the decision to do what was right for her each time she became pregnant. She does a tremendous job of giving readers a behind-the-scenes look at what an abortion experience is really like. Her first abortion was a traumatic one, as she experienced immense pain during the procedure only to find out weeks later that not all of the matter was removed and she had to go back in for a second painful procedure. Her other abortion experiences were different, but not always less traumatic. The process was grueling, and Benitez doesn’t hold back when it comes to giving readers what happened.
Each pregnancy experience came at a different time in her life, with extremely different circumstances. There were times when a man was begging her to continue the pregnancy and others when the man was begging her not to. There were times when she had support, and others where she had to deal with things on her own. But Benitez took each pregnancy head on and goes with her gut about it, which I think readers will find admirable. I certainly did.
Unburdening breaks down many biases that surround abortions, including who gets them and why. Benitez is an incredibly smart and educated woman, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t struggle with things like alcohol abuse, a gambling addiction, and maintaining healthy relationships. Benitez paints a vivid and full picture of herself in Unburdening—the good and the bad. And readers, I think, are better off because of it.
Publisher: MindStir Media
Genre: Nonfiction / Memoir / Women
Print Length: 210 pages
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