by Jordan Green
My younger sister, Alice Callahan, sends the manuscript of her first book to her publisher today. It’s about babies and parenting, written in a style that resonates with parents’ immediate experiences, but backed up with rigorous science. Both intimate and authoritative, this is a book that I am confident will gain a wide and deep readership.
My wife and I granted interviews to Alice for a chapter about the contrasting experiences of breast-feeding versus bottle-feeding, so now we feel even more invested in the project and part of her success.
Alice’s burgeoning career as a writer gives me only the slightest twinge of sibling jealousy.
I’ve always been a committed writer, going back to 8th grade when I published a skate-punk ’zine. Meanwhile, Alice became interested in dairy cows and farming in high school. She studied the dietary science of animals in college and worked briefly at the National Zoo in Washington DC before going out to California to earn her doctorate.
Alice put her career as a research scientist on hold when she became a mother to Cee, who is now 3. Writing for a popular audience was a natural way to merge her two passions: rigorous science and motherhood. She launched a blog, Science of Mom, which quickly developed a national audience, garnering dozens of comments for each post. You might think that someone trained to write for academic journals would have difficulty connecting with a popular audience, but it turns out that she’s really good at this.
I have to say that both the traction gained by Alice’s blog and her book deal put her writing career a couple paces ahead of mine. I have a book in the works, but it’s a long way from completion and so far I’ve managed to generate only mild interest from publishers. I’ve published two books — a lightly fictionalized memoir when I was 20 and a collection of poetry when I was 23 — with small presses, but that was so long ago and the kind of writing that I do now is so different that I don’t really count them anymore.
That’s fine. I’m happy to celebrate the birth of my sister’s first book and so proud of her.