One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child, and the Joy of Being One (Paperback)
A funny, tough-minded case for being and having an only child, debunking the myths about only children and taking glory in the pleasures of singletons: “A swift and absorbing read…may change your mind and the national conversation” (Psychology Today).
Journalist Lauren Sandler is an only child and the mother of one. After investigating what only children are really like and whether stopping at one child is an answer to reconciling motherhood and modernity, she learned a lot about herself—and a lot about our culture’s assumptions. In this heartfelt work, Sandler legitimizes a discussion about the larger societal costs of having more than one, which Jessica Grose in her review in The New Republic calls, “the vital part of the conversation that’s not being discussed in the chatter” surrounding parenting.
Between the recession, the stresses of modern life, and the ecological dangers ahead, there are increasing pressures on parents to think seriously about singletons. Sandler considers the unique ways that singletons thrive, and why so many of their families are happier. One and Only examines these ideas, including what the rise of the single-child family means for our economies, our environment, and our freedom, leaving the reader “informed and sympathetic,” writes Nora Krug in the Washington Post.
Through this journey, “Sandler delves deeply, thoughtfully, and often humorously into history, culture, politics, religion, race, economics, and of course, scientific research” writes Lori Gottlieb, The New York Times Book Review. “I couldn’t put it down,” says Randi Hutter Epstein in the Huffington Post. Sandler “isn’t proselytizing, she’s just stating it like it is. Seductively honest.” At the end, Sandler has quite possibly cracked the code of happiness, demonstrating that having just one may be the way to resolve our countless struggles with adulthood in the modern age.
About the Author
Lauren Sandler has written on cultural politics, religion, and inequality for Time, The Atlantic, Slate, and The New York Times. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
“[Sandler] delves deeply, thoughtfully, and often humorously into history, culture, politics, religion, race, economics, and of course, scientific research… Will she or won’t she have another? The beauty of her in-depth exploration is that the larger questions she poses make this one seem beside the point.”
— Lori Gottlieb, The New York Times Book Review
“There is a welcome strain of argument undergirding this well-researched and lively book: Looking out for your own happiness is not inconsistent with being a good mother. This is a vital part of the conversation that’s not being discussed in the chatter surrounding middle-class parenting.”
— Jessica Grose, The New Republic
“Sandler delivers a work of fierce reporting, tender storytelling, and clear-eyed cultural analysis.”
— Susan Cain, author of Quiet
“Lauren Sandler’s book is eloquent, articulate, persuasive, and whip-smart. But its greatest virtue may be its restraint. This is, thank goodness, no faddish argument for only children. One and Only is something much wiser and much, much more important. It’s a plea to disregard our facile (and demonstrably incorrect) stereotypes about family size and accept a universal truth: one size does not fit all.”
— Daniel Smith, New York Times bestselling author of Monkey Mind
“Sandler’s thought-provoking—and often surprising—analysis will fascinate anyone interested in how family circumstances shape our lives.”
— Gretchen Rubin, New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Project
“Sandler powerfully debunks generations of myths about the loneliness, selfishness, and general neuroticism of only children. Her book is a must-read both for adult only children and parents of ‘just’ one—and an eye-opener for anyone interested in a fresh look at the meaning of connectedness.”
— Judith Warner, New York Times bestselling author of Perfect Madness
“Sandler weaves a gripping tale of motherhood and modernity, bypassing the mommy wars to expose the wider conditions in which parenting choices are made. She’s one of the most cogent commentators on feminism and family there is.”
— Deborah Siegel, PhD, coeditor of Only Child
“This book, like everything Lauren Sandler writes, is lush and riveting. Only children or people who have only children will find comfort in these pages, and parents generally should read it to understand their own choices.”
— Alissa Quart, author of Hothouse Kids
“With wit, warmth, and keen intelligence, Sandler skewers the myths about only children and their parents. If you’re tired of all the foolish generalizations, buy several copies of this book and hand them out at the playground!”
— Liza Featherstone, author of Selling Women Short
“Onlies, parents of onlies, and readers still on the fence will find the book illuminating and affirming.”
— Publishers Weekly
“[T]he author’s argument dispels stereotypes of ‘onlies’ and raises provocative questions about the American tendency toward prioritizing and even elevating parenthood over relationships, individuality, social networks and other aspects of adulthood, sometimes to the detriment of the family. Recommended as an alternative perspective on an often emotionally fraught discussion.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“[A] thoughtful, well-reasoned book… Sandler writes movingly.”
— Boston Globe
“Sandler makes her case with zeal…. [She] certainly has a dramatic touch with language, and in her book she adduces a prodigious amount of reporting, data and research…. [T]he the data Sandler cite speak convincingly to the proposition that only children, at the very least, should not be negatively stereotyped.”
— Washington Post