Because I Said So, edited by Kate Moses and Camille Peri, is a searing collection of essays from 33 women facing the challenges of motherhood in the 21st century, when automatic, autocratic parental axioms are of little help. Despite the common thread of motherhood, there's a wide span of subject matter here children, sex, men, aging, faith, race from an eclectic array of cultural perspectives and attitudes, and from a terrific lineup of first-rate writers. "On Giving Hope" is just one of the many gems in this collection. Written by Mariane Pearl (her husband, journalist Daniel Pearl was killed by terrorists in 2001 while she was pregnant with their first child), this narrative testifies to the power of love to override hate and bring hope. "I know that by killing my husband, the terrorists expect to break my life, too, and that of my son," Pearl writes. "But I am fighting the holiest of fights, and I win. Giving birth to our baby is my ultimate act of anti-terrorism." Linda Stankard is a mother and a daughter.

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