Picks and Pans Review: For Better, for Worse: a Candid Chronicle of Five Couples Adjusting to Parenthood

updated 05/10/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/10/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Susan Squire

In the life of a married couple, no event is more fraught with fear and filled with euphoria than having a baby. In this sometimes uncomfortably intimate yet compulsively readable book, Squire—a journalist and herself the mother of a 4-year-old daughter—chronicles five middle-class duos as they take the rocky, rewarding parenthood trip.

Juliet and Sam are wealthy enough—he's a prominent lawyer—to spend three close-to-idyllic months on a New England coastal island after their first child is born. But the two find themselves bickering over household and parental responsibilities once they return to their real lives in Manhattan. Rob, who is Jewish, and Alex, who was raised Catholic, fight at length before deciding to give their baby boy both a briss (the traditional Jewish ceremony of circumcision) and a baptism. That's just the start of their struggles. Sarah is feisty and ambitious, Michael low-key and nurturing. At bad times she thinks of Michael as "the coward," while he thinks of Sarah as a "major bitch." Erin and Tom find their marriage improves after their baby's birth, contrary to what they expected and what much data supports. Maria and Joe long for a house once their newborn arrives, but have to stay put in a small apartment.

Spanning two years and filled with the kind of tension and drama that drive a good novel, the book perceptively examines a time of immense and irreversible change. (Doubleday, $22.95)

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