An honest conversation about abortion and reproductive decisions... One of its subtle beauties is Stein’s depiction of life’s mundanities and how frequently reproduction tinges the edges. It’s conversations with taxi/Lyft drivers, a parent’s outspoken desire for grandchildren, the beauty of local environments, and the sparkling banter of media pundits (thankfully absent in the memoir) that inform our reproductive decisions.Vida Review
A candid and philosophical memoir tackling abortion and the complex decision to reproduce
I Know You Rider is Leslie Stein’s rumination on the many complex questions surrounding the decision to reproduce. Opening in an abortion clinic, the book accompanies Stein through a year of her life, steeped in emotions she was not quite expecting while also looking far beyond her own experiences. She visits with a childhood friend who’s just had twins and is trying to raise them as environmentally as possible, chats with another who’s had a vasectomy to spare his wife a lifetime of birth control, and spends Christmas with her own mother, who aches for a grandchild.
Through these melodically rendered conversations with loved ones and strangers, Stein weaves one continuing conversation with herself. She presents a sometimes sweet, sometimes funny, and always powerfully empathetic account, asking what makes a life meaningful and where we find joy amid other questions—most of which have no solid answers, much like real life.
Instead of focusing on trauma, I Know You Rider is a story about unpredictability, change, and adaptability, adding a much-needed new perspective to a topic often avoided or discussed through a black and white lens. People are ever changing, contradicting themselves, and having to deal with unforeseen circumstances: Stein holds this human condition with grace and humor, as she embraces the cosmic choreography and keeps walking, open to what life blows her way.
Praise for I Know You Rider
[I Know You Rider] is not only about the right to choose an abortion, but also about the choices every person makes about how to exist in a body in the world—ethical choices around climate change, career decisions, and creating and maintaining relationships of all kinds.Rewire.News
Stein (Present) juxtaposes the story of her abortion against her encounters with mothers (including her own) and children (of her friends and strangers) as she processes a hard experience, relevant to many, that few talk about.Publishers Weekly, Spring 2020 Announcements
This brilliantly painted memoir by Stein (Present) explores her experience of abortion with clarity and tenderness.Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
Gently told with humor and grace, I Know You Rider will resonate with many who’ve reflected on reproductive decisions—past, present and future.Ms. Magazine
Life, whether you have them or not, is not entirely about children, and the decision to have them or not is weighed against so many things, especially the parts of life that do not involve them at all, and Stein depicts those moments well.Comics Beat
[I Know You Rider] hews closely to the weighty question of having children, following Stein in the year after her abortion, drawing on her conversations with parents, children, her own mother, and herself.Arianna Rebolini, Buzzfeed's Most Anticipated Books of 2020