Becoming Female and Male: Our Extraordinary and Perilous Journey

Ramon Piñon, Jr.

Publisher: Xlibris Pages: 286 Price: (paperback) $19.99 ISBN: 9781493147946 Reviewed: November, 2014 Author Website: Visit »

From the formation of eggs and sperm, to conception and birth, the human reproductive journey is complex and hazardous. Ramon Pinon, Jr., PhD, Emeritus Professor in biology at the University of California, San Diego, takes readers through the procreative arc in Becoming Female and Male, a layperson’s adaption of his 2002 college textbook on human reproduction.

The author begins with the “miraculous processes that lead to the formation of the eggs and sperm.” He moves on to fetal development and pre/post-pubertal reproductive functions, then covers key points of conception and birth, pregnancy loss and birth defects, birth control, infertility, assisted reproduction and the cessation of reproductive capability.

Pinon admits readers “may find it rough going at times.” But his clear explanations are sprinkled with sexual controversies, tongue-in-cheek subheads (“The sex chromosomes – the odd couple”) and literary quotes (such as a sorrowful snippet from Virginia Woolf lamenting her childless state). He enhances the text with illustrations and historical perspectives, such as an advertisement from the first birth control clinic in the U.S., and keeps pages turning as he weaves in sometimes bizarre reproductive research. High school biology teachers probably never cited the 17th century Dutch scientist who obtained the ovaries of a female cadaver, cooked and ate them, and declared they tasted and resembled birds’ eggs.

The book ends with a final chapter on infertility, followed by chapter citations, three appendices and a glossary. A final summary would have given readers more narrative closure. However, the book’s expert and well-written overview of the human reproductive system, coupled with the author’s use of historical perspectives and his own observations, offers a wonderful resource for teens to adults who wish to better understand what the author calls our “extraordinary and perilous” reproductive journey.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.

BlueInk Heads-Up: This book is highly recommended for library human sexuality collections.

Author's Current Residence
San Diego, California
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