#ReadWithMC Reviews 'Human Blues'

"It's unlike anything I've read before and burrowed deep under my skin..."

human bodies novel by elisa albert
(Image credit: Simon & Schuster/Art by Brittany Holloway-Brown)

For August’s #ReadWithMC pick, we read Human Blues by Elisa Albert—a story told over the course of nine menstrual cycles. The novel follows singer-songwriter Aviva Rosner who’s consumed with having a child, and although she struggles with infertility, she takes a firm stance against IVF. Human Blues dives into the societal pressure of childbearing, the definition of femininity, and what success looks like. It’s hilarious, introspective, and completely unapologetic, and our readers ate it up. 

“It's an emotional, chaotic roller coaster, and I don't say that lightly, but it is also certainly not a criticism. It is dense and fun, but also melancholy and infuriating,” raved @tessreadsbooks. “Albert is an incredible author and this is an incredible book that I won't soon forget.” 

Although some readers were on the fence about Aviva’s internal ramblings, many fell hard for the protagonist herself. @Mostlybookstuff wrote, “Aviva tells it like it is, and I like listening to her.” Meanwhile, reviewer @dishing.on.books described Aviva as “a sneeringly snarky and internally tumultuousness songbird” and added, “I enjoyed her vulgarity and crassly honest complexity.” 

If the gorgeous cover art wasn't enough to pull you in, reviews from our virtual book club members might do the trick. Here's what #ReadWithMC readers had to say about Human Blues


"🌟Review!🌟 What can I even say about this one? Elisa Albert is a new author to me, and her writing simply blew me away. I like to describe some books as panic attacks. HUMAN BLUES more like... a manic episode? A fever dream? It's unlike anything I've read before, and burrowed deep under my skin. I couldn't stop thinking about it when I would put it down, and immediately had to listen to podcast episodes she appeared on because I wanted to hear about how this story came to be.

Aviva Rosner is a character that should go down in history. She is fully-formed and jumps off the page and right into your brain. She is a 30-something singer-songwriter who is about to release her 4th album and gaining more and more success. She is also desperately trying to have a baby, and coming up against all the pressure of being unable to. The book is more like a monologue inside her head with her singular voice. She is funny, brassy, bold, and unapologetic. The book is loudly feminist and will make you question things you never thought twice about (like the implications and ramifications of IVF). I don't always do trigger warnings, but if you have any hang-ups about being pregnant or getting pregnant, best to stay away from this one. But, if you love Amy Winehouse? Read it for sure!!

It's an emotional, chaotic roller coaster, and I don't say that lightly, but it is also certainly not a criticism. It is dense and fun, but also melancholy and infuriating. I loved and hated Aviva, which I'm sure was the intention. I also loved her as an artist, and all the references to the real life singer-songwriters that I adore. Albert is an incredible author and this is an incredible book that I won't soon forget. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️"

@tessreadsbooks

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"#HUMANBLUES by #elisaalbert is a searing, stream of consciousness that is not so much a stream but a pummeling internal whirlpool between the desire for a baby but the disinclination to artificially inseminate. Sensitive subjects are tackled stupendously, with each chapter encompassing a complete menstrual cycle.

For an artist about to drop her biggest album yet (the aptly titled WOMB SERVICE), Aviva is nevertheless firmly old school. She will not consider IVF, despite the frequent visits to fertility specialists, an acupuncturist, a sex therapist and an exceptional Rabbi. For Aviva is also wary of doctors and a whole industry seemingly dedicated to treat symptoms and ignore the cause. She herself had irregular periods and was merely prescribed the pill. She watched her brother suffer more from the cancer treatment than the actual cancer. We’re being sold on all these things we must do, but it does more harm than good. It’s not a criticism of the medical profession, but a plea for better care and study of our bodies, in particular our female bodies.

Aviva wants a baby, but she is not TRYING for a baby. Babies should just happen. And it might not happen, which is fine. Aviva recognizes her privilege, how simple it is to want a baby and get that baby, but in this era of instant gratification, maybe wanting the WANT is better in the long run. Aviva tells it like it is, and I like listening to her. Through it all, she enlists the steady comfort of Amy Winehouse. For all her artistry and accomplishments, she died too young to leave behind any children. And yet! Life is one long waiting game while we’re in it. To wait can ultimately mean to heal."

@mostlybookstuff

"This was my first time dipping-in and absorbing one of Chef Elisa Albert’s dishes. At first glance the dish is chaotically hypnotizing - The woman (Aviva) with her mask, surrounded by moons, an hourglass, and the wilting roses. I appreciate the art so much more after reading (who doesn’t, right!?).

The dish features Aviva, a sneeringly snarky and internally tumultuousness songbird. I enjoyed her vulgarity and crassly honest complexity. It’s a ride flowing on her chart through the cutting subject of infertility."

@dishing.on.books

"🤰𝙒𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙝𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙚𝙣𝙨 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙁𝙚𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙮 𝙁𝙚𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙞𝙨𝙢 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙁𝙖𝙢𝙚 𝙘𝙤𝙡𝙡𝙞𝙙𝙚𝙨?

'🤰𝘼𝙫𝙞𝙫𝙖 (𝙈𝘾) 𝙬𝙖𝙣𝙩𝙨 𝙖 𝙗𝙖𝙗𝙮 𝙗𝙪𝙩 𝙨𝙝𝙚 𝙞𝙨 𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙪𝙜𝙜𝙡𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙤 𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙘𝙚𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝙣𝙖𝙩𝙪𝙧𝙖𝙡𝙡𝙮 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙞𝙨 𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙮 𝙢𝙪𝙘𝙝 𝙤𝙥𝙥𝙤𝙨𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙪𝙣𝙣𝙖𝙩𝙪𝙧𝙖𝙡 𝙨𝙘𝙞𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙛𝙞𝙘 𝙩𝙚𝙘𝙝𝙣𝙤𝙡𝙤𝙜𝙮'.

🤰𝙃𝙚𝙧 𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙧𝙮 𝙞𝙨 𝙩𝙤𝙡𝙙 𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙘𝙤𝙪𝙧𝙨𝙚 𝙤𝙛 9 𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙪𝙖𝙡 𝙘𝙮𝙘𝙡𝙚𝙨. 𝙄 𝙝𝙖𝙙 𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙩𝙡𝙚 𝙚𝙭𝙥𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙗𝙤𝙤𝙠 𝙗𝙪𝙩 𝙩𝙤 𝙢𝙮 𝙨𝙪𝙧𝙥𝙧𝙞𝙨𝙚 𝙞𝙩 𝙩𝙪𝙧𝙣𝙚𝙙 𝙤𝙪𝙩 𝙩𝙤 𝙗𝙚 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙩𝙮, 𝙨𝙣𝙖𝙧𝙠𝙮 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙘𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙫𝙚.

🤰𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙣𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙡 𝙞𝙨 𝙨𝙤𝙧𝙩 𝙤𝙛 𝙖 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙖𝙧𝙮 𝙤𝙣 𝙞𝙨𝙨𝙪𝙚𝙨 𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙘𝙚𝙧𝙣𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙬𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙣 - 𝙞𝙣𝙛𝙚𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙮, 𝙨𝙤𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡 𝙚𝙭𝙥𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨 𝙤𝙛 𝙗𝙚𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙘𝙝𝙞𝙡𝙙 𝙗𝙚𝙖𝙧𝙚𝙧𝙨 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙬𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙣'𝙨 𝙘𝙝𝙤𝙞𝙘𝙚𝙨 𝙩𝙤𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙𝙨 𝙘𝙝𝙞𝙡𝙙 𝙗𝙚𝙖𝙧𝙞𝙣𝙜.

🤰𝙈𝙮 𝙨𝙤𝙡𝙚 𝙞𝙣𝙩𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙗𝙚𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙙 𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙗𝙤𝙤𝙠𝙨 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙜𝙤𝙧𝙜𝙚𝙤𝙪𝙨 𝙗𝙤𝙤𝙠 𝙘𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙖𝙧𝙩. 𝘽𝙪𝙩 𝙞 𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙙 𝙪𝙥 𝙚𝙣𝙟𝙤𝙮𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙞𝙩.

⭐⭐⭐. 7

🤰𝙄𝙛 𝙢𝙮 𝙦𝙪𝙞𝙘𝙠 𝙧𝙚𝙫𝙞𝙚𝙬 𝙬𝙤𝙣'𝙩 𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙫𝙞𝙣𝙘𝙚 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙩𝙤 𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙜𝙚𝙢 𝙄 𝙗𝙚𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙗𝙚𝙖𝙪𝙩𝙞𝙛𝙪𝙡 𝙘𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙙𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙟𝙤𝙗 𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙛𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙡𝙮. 😁"

@readers_make_believe

Brooke Knappenberger
Editorial Fellow

Brooke Knappenberger is the Editorial Fellow at Marie Claire, where she writes across the board from books and celebrities to fashion and beauty. As a pop culture junkie, Brooke obsessively consumes and writes about the latest movie releases, streaming TV shows, and celebrity scandals. Brooke is a proud St. Louis native and is currently living in New York City. Outside of work, you can find her either jamming out to Drake, reading a Sarah J. Maas novel, or shamelessly online shopping.