HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Angela Garbes

Award-Winning Writer and Author Exploring the Essential Work of Mothering and Caretaking


  • Mothering and Parenting
  • Domestic Labor
  • Care Work and Social Change
  • Filipino American and Asian American Identity & Experience
  • Reproductive Justice and Female Reproductive Health
  • Gender Equity


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Angela Garbes is the author of Like a Mother (HarperWave), an NPR Best Book of the Year and finalist for the Washington State Book Award in Nonfiction. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Cut, New York, Bon Appétit, and featured on NPR's Fresh Air.  Her new book Essential Labor (HarperWave) will publish in May 2022.

Like most first-time mothers, Garbes was filled with questions when she became pregnant. What exactly is a placenta and how does it function? How does a body go into labor? Why is breast best? Is wine totally off-limits? But as she soon discovered, it’s not easy to find satisfying answers. Your obstetrician will cautiously quote statistics; online sources will scare you with conflicting and often inaccurate data; and even the most trusted books will offer information with a heavy dose of judgment. To educate herself, Garbes embarked on an intensive journey of exploration, diving into the scientific mysteries and cultural attitudes that surround motherhood to find answers to questions that had only previously been given in the form of advice about what women ought to do—rather than allowing them the freedom to choose the right path for themselves. The result was her modern classic book of pregnancy, Like a Mother. 

In Essential Labor, Garbes explores assumptions about care, work, and deservedness, offering a deeply personal and rigorously reported look at what mothering is, and can be. A first-generation Filipina American, Garbes shares the perspective of her family's complicated relationship to care work, placing mothering in a global context—the invisible economic engine that has been historically demanded of women of color.

Garbes brings her fresh perspectives and knowledge along with her compassion and understanding to any event. Her expertise ranges from conversations on mothering and parenting to gender equity. Whether it is a keynote or conversation, Garbes’ compelling insights will highly benefit audiences from parenting organizations, women’s groups, universities, and corporations who aim to better support employees who are mothers, parents, and caregivers.

Previously, Garbes was the staff food writer at The Stranger in Seattle and is proud to have started her career as a beat writer at a local alt-weekly.  Currently, she lives with her family in Seattle.

Praise for Essential Labor:

“Angela Garbes has given us the definitive explanation for something we all share: the sense that something is not right about our society’s treatment of parenting. Essential Labor is a beautifully written, painstakingly researched, and courageously personal book. Garbes reveals the way systems exploit caregiving and shows us how the essential work of mothering can fix not just family life, but society. A timely and unforgettable book.”
--Heather McGhee, New York Times bestselling author of The Sum of Us

"I have never felt more held, challenged, and called to action by a book. Angela Garbes seamlessly weaves together memoir, research, and cultural analysis in a way that is expansive and profoundly intimate. She offers a path forward for family life that is simultaneously instinctive, generous, and revolutionary, sounding a note that American society badly needs to hear. I know I will think about this book for the rest of my life—it's that important."
--Lydia Kiesling, author of The Golden State

"Essential Labor is exactly the right book, written by exactly the right author. at exactly the right moment. Garbes's work will help us put ourselves, our families, and our communities back together in a way that is more compassionate, more embodied, and more alive than before."
--Emily Nagoski, Ph.D., New York Times bestselling author of Come As You Are and Burnout

"Mothering is an invisible form of labor that is too rarely given its due as skilled, multi-dimensional work. Through historical analysis, personal narrative, and expert storytelling, Garbes illuminates the ways in which this essential work is devalued, under compensated, and inequitably distributed, while also offering a vision for a better future. Essential Labor is a rigorous, heartfelt, and deeply hopeful book."
--Eve Rodsky, New York Times bestselling author of Fair Play and Find Your Unicorn Space

Praise for Like a Mother:

“You don't have to be a mother or even a woman to be fascinated by the science and physiology that she writes about.”
--Terry Gross, Fresh Air

Like a Mother is a deeply-researched history of human reproduction; it is a jewel-bright memoir; it is hard science beautifully translated; it is funny; it is intersectional; it will crack you open and fill you with awe. Required reading for mothers, and double-required for everyone else.”
--Lindy West, author of Shrill

“This is the book I wish had been available during my pregnancy and my baby’s first weeks of life. Angela Garbes’ voice is reassuring and relatable, and her curiosity is infectious, and her sense of humor is just what people in the trenches of early parenthood need.”
--Emily Gould, of Emily Books and author of Friendship and The Heart Says Whatever

“In spite of how long women have been giving birth, there is a lot of misinformation out there about pregnancy and motherhood. Angela Garbes seeks to get it straight in Like a Mother. She not only corrects misinformation but offers advice and support.”

“Garbes examines preconceived ideas about pregnancy and the history of women’s health from a critical standpoint, revealing the prejudices and politics so ingrained in our culture that they still affect the care (or lack thereof) pregnant women receive today. Like a Mother is a compelling read.”
--The Stranger

“The science is sublime. I especially appreciated, oddly, learning how much we still don’t know about the high-stakes path to parenthood. But what got me was Garbes’ regard for mothers as people in their own right, rather than the hosts or self-sacrificing caregivers they’re conditioned to be.”
--Seattle Times

“Garbes unpacks reams of pregnancy advice, often absurd in its conflicting demands. Like a Mother gave me a toolkit for approaching a hoped-for future.”
--Claire Fallon, Huffington Post

Like a Mother illustrates scientific fact with frankness and intimate detail.”
--New York

“An empowering resource…Garbes shares up-to-date, well-substantiated information about women’s physical and mental health, aiming to help readers reduce their anxiety and make truly informed choices.”
--Publishers Weekly

Like a Mother is the evidence-based, open-minded book that U.S. pregnancy culture needs…a true feminist accomplishment that puts trust and agency back with women and parents.”