Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
September 28, 2021

This past Sunday, the campus Barnes & Noble hosted Paula Bomer, a Brooklyn author promoting the debut of her new novel, Nine Months. This novel is Bomer’s second publication; her first was Baby & Other Stories, a collection of short stories about pregnancy and motherhood.

Though Nine Years and Baby were published almost two years apart, Nine Months follows its predecessor well. The two share the main themes of motherhood and family.

In Nine Months, however, the reader follows the journey of a mother who abandons her family for a cross-country road trip after being shocked by an unexpected third pregnancy. It indulges every mother’s desires and fears surrounding pregnancies.

Nine Months was mostly written ten years ago when Bomer had small children and was thinking about having a third child.

“A friend once asked me, ‘You had to write a whole novel to talk yourself out of having a third child?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I guess!’” Bomer said.

When the reading began, Bomer’s introduction came from a friend, Adam Robinson. The two met on a website for which they both used to write.

“I’ve been following her writing since. Her writing is irreverent and funny and insightful,” he said.

These qualities were apparent to any new fans as soon as Bomer began her reading. In the chosen chapter, the main character, Sonia, is plagued with morning sickness and yet is still attempting to run errands with her children. The audience laughed throughout the reading. Bomer’s novel was relatable for mothers, fathers and children alike, and it was filled with realistic and understandable interactions between Sonia and her children. Some critics, however, have slammed this “realism” and raw writing as too dark or uncomfortably confrontational. Bomer responds by defending her writing as just “open and honest.”

“Some people just don’t have a sense of humor,” she said.

Bomer then opened the floor to questions from the audience.

One woman from the community, a mother named Janet Walton, asked how long it takes for an idea to actually become a book.

“For me, a very, very long time,” Bomer said. “When this book was originally written ten years ago, it was not received well...and my editor, a couple of years ago when I sent it to him, loved it and then I spent a year revising it.”

Bomer said that most of the edits were “basically writing more.” She also had to change the novel from multiple points of view to just one point of view, Sonia’s.

“Sonia’s voice is great and I’m glad it’s the only one we got to hear,” Walton said in response.

Most of the discussion with the audience became about motherhood. Bomer admitted that several times, she’s been asked about whether her children read her books and whether that fact has made her at all hesitant in her writing.

“My boys haven’t read my books, and frankly I don’t think they want to,” Bomer said.

She also said it would never stop her from writing exactly what she wants to write. She assured any possible authors in the audience that nothing should ever stop them from writing what they wanted.

The mothers in attendance agreed that it was very refreshing to get such a raw perspective on something that’s mostly painted in such a positive light.

And with her next novel in the works, Paula was asked whether her fans could expect another family story or another story with Sonia. Sonia is a character Paula has used in many writings prior to Nine Months.

“Don’t worry,” Bomer told the audience, “in my next book, there’s not one pregnant person.”

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