The Most Important Job in the World by Gina Rushton
‘Should I have children?’ This deceptively simple and universally common question is what inspired journalist Gina Rushton to investigate the complex ecosystem of ‘motherhood’ in our uncertain present. In 2019, Rushton received a diagnosis that doctors told her would likely affect her fertility. Approaching 30, and suddenly aware she may not have the luxury of time, Rushton knew she had to face the question head on. So, she gave herself nine months to read, interview, think and write through the process. This phenomenal book is the result.
Over seven electrifying chapters (bookended by an introduction and an outgoing reflection), Rushton gives voice to all the serious, complex issues a generation is currently thinking through: how do we reconcile bringing a life into a world beset by climate crisis? How does motherhood relate to our increasingly toxic relationship to work? How do we balance emotional labour in a relationship? Who are the communities that aren’t being represented in discussions around reproductive justice? Rushton isn’t interested in easy answers: ‘I am trying to legitimise the questions we are striving to answer and identify those that have been thrust upon us and from which we could liberate ourselves. I am trying to get more comfortable with thequestions, curious not craving, calm about what I don’t know.’
There are so many impressive things about this book, it’s hard to isolate just a few. It’s richly dense with ideas and research, yet its prose feels light and effortless. Rushton has a journalist’s instinct for the most potent anecdote or image from a story, and an analyst’s ability to untangle complex systems. Some books appear in the publishing landscape likecomets: a bright, shining arc of glowing reviews, powerful word of mouth, writers festivals, television spots and award shortlistings well into the subsequent year. I have no doubt The Most Important Job in the World will launch along the same trajectory with its release this month. But what I really hope is that it will launch itself into the hands of readers everywhere, of every age and gender, because it deserves to be read and read widely.