Chow, Marie: Unwell
How do you tell your child that you won’t be there when they grow up? UNWELL is the raw, honest story of a mother who writes to her unborn child, sharing her decision of choosing not to be a mother. She doesn’t choose abortion. Nor does she consider adoption. Instead, she decides to give her child a fighting chance in life, without the angst and drama that’s shaped her own bittersweet life.
With a poignant lack of emotion, the young mother shares her life story. As the child of Asian parents who moved to America early in her life, the mother shares how her life disintegrated after her parents’ divorce. From upper middle class suburban to sharing her mean aunt’s house to a one bedroom apartment in a shabby neighborhood, this mother endures the indignity that comes with the change of status. From her father’s absence to her mother becoming a married man’s mistress, her story reads like a tragic Victorian novel set in the 21st century, but that’s where the similarity ends—she is definitely not a shy country miss and she certainly did not take the easy way out.
This amazing story chronicles the life of a woman who fought for everything she got, faced her demons and made the hard choices. Her fortitude and candor are disarming, her avant-garde views strangely endearing. You’ve never read a book like this and probably never will again. Get your copy today and take the literary journey of a lifetime. Through this glimpse into the life of a woman of integrity, sacrifice and love, you’ll feel her pain, live her failures and cheer for the meager joys that come her way. But the one thing you’ll never do… is forget her. Or her story.
Purchase Unwell at Amazon
Please tell us about your book, Unwell.
Written entirely as a letter to her unborn child, Unwell is the story of one woman’s life, written almost as a confession…
She’s married to a wonderful man, pregnant with a healthy child, and knows there’s so much she should be thankful for, and yet– She’s not ready for motherhood. She’s not ready to be a wife. She’s not ready for the realities that have trapped her. To pass the time, fill the void, and in hopes that someone may eventually understand, she begins a letter to her unborn daughter. In it she tells, unflinchingly, her life story that brings her to this moment. She explains what she hasn’t told anyone else: not only who she is, but who she isn’t.
How did you come up with ideas for this book?
When I was pregnant with my first child… I had this moment of panic. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t sure. It was too late to back out, too late to change my mind.
My moment of panic eventually subsided, and I now have two very… spirited… toddlers. But the idea of being trapped by motherhood, of being unwilling to give up the part of your identity that does seem to get inevitably subsumed by being a parent, was an idea that stayed with me. Eventually, after marinating for long enough, it became this book.
Where can visitors find you online?
How can someone get a copy of the book?
Right now, only on Amazon
What was the most difficult aspect of writing this book?
I had this great introduction that I was so… very… attached to. I edited and re-edited it for, quite literally, months. When I finally finished the novel and began showing it to people, almost half of my friend said the same thing: the beginning’s got to go. The three chapters that I had worked the hardest on, and which had been the foundation for everything that came after it, became a single short page. Cutting out that much, especially when it was the beginning that had inspired the rest… was very, very difficult.
Why do you write? Is it something you’ve always done, or always wanted to do? Or is it something that you started fairly recently?
I’m not one of those people who’s always wanted to write. In fact, I distinctly remember the years when I loathed writing above all other subjects.
I’d spent most of my formative years traveling between Taiwan and the U.S., half a year there, half a year here. I kicked butt in subjects like math and science (which were numbers-based, as opposed to word-based), and sucked in things like history (turns out they don’t teach you about the U.S. presidents in Taiwan, and alternatively, my elementary school teachers said little about ancient Chinese emperors and dynasties).
Writing, especially creative writing was, by far, my worst subject. I had no real vocabulary to speak of, and the idea of an assignment that didn’t have a clear-cut right answer was horribly anxiety-inducing.
I didn’t start writing until midway through my college years. The short version? I was depressed, and started keeping a journal.
Which I found… even more depressing.
It was a bit of a loop for me. I’d be thinking about something sad, and so I’d write about it, which made me think about that sad thing… even more.
So, I started writing, at first, ever-so-slightly-fictionalized versions of real events. Like, that bad break-up where I’d dumped him but then he’d said some really cutting things I’d had no response to? Well, what if I’d said what I thought of days (ok fine, weeks) afterwards? Or, that unresolved fight about a snow globe I’d bought for my father that he’d probably forgotten about long ago? It would have been petty, and immature to bright it up now, but in the fictionalized version of my world…
At some point, the main characters stopped being completely me. A little later, the stories stopped being alternate versions of reality.
And I was hooked.
It was exhilarating, and thrilling, putting words on paper and creating people, characters, voices, life.
Excluding your own, name 3 books you would recommend to your friends
Magaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin
Richard Russo’s Empire Falls
Donald Hall’s Without
Adam Haslett’s You are Not a Stranger Here
Marie is a former teacher, education evaluator, and engineer. A lifelong student, she has degrees in degrees in chemical engineering, teaching, an MFA in writing, and a doctorate in educational leadership. Her writing focuses on bilingual and English-only children’s books that feature mixed families, as well as literary and contemporary fiction focused on Asian and Asian American characters.