Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Julie's Review: Then Came You

Summary: Jules Strauss is a Princeton senior with a full scholarship, acquaintances instead of friends, and a family she’s ashamed to invite to Parents’ Weekend. With the income she’ll receive from donating her “pedigree” eggs, she believes she can save her father from addiction. Annie Barrow married her high school sweetheart and became the mother to two boys. After years of staying at home and struggling to support four people on her husband’s salary, she thinks she’s found a way to recover a sense of purpose and bring in some extra cash. India Bishop, thirty-eight (really forty-three), has changed everything about herself: her name, her face, her past. In New York City, she falls for a wealthy older man, Marcus Croft, and decides a baby will ensure a happy ending. When her attempts at pregnancy fail, she turns to technology, and Annie and Jules, to help make her dreams come true. But each of their plans is thrown into disarray when Marcus’ daughter Bettina, intent on protecting her father, becomes convinced that his new wife is not what she seems. With startling tenderness and laugh-out-loud humor, Jennifer Weiner once again takes readers into the heart of women’s lives in an unforgettable, timely tale that interweaves themes of class and entitlement, surrogacy and donorship, the rights of a parent and the measure of motherhood.

Review: The last book of Ms. Weiner's that I remember being multiple POV's was Little Earthquakes, which makes this one that much more interesting for me. Then Came You first introduces us to Jules who; while extremely beautiful is pretty much a loner. She doesn't tend to get close to anyone because she's ashamed of her father, who is an addict of multiple substances. While at the mall, Jules notices a man staring at her for 3 weeks straight; when he finally approaches her what he states isn't quite what she imagined. It's an offer that can make such a difference in her life and that of her dad's. We then get to know Annie, Bettina and
India. Each of these women has such different backgrounds from each other, yet in the end they all have one thing in common...motherhood. Is it the traditional definition of motherhood? No, but like with all things, that is changing as well.

Ms. Weiner took two fairly complex subjects, fertility and surrogacy and formed them into a novel that was easily understandable and relatable. By relatable, I don't mean that you have to have experienced either of the two but you can identify with one of the characters or perhaps multiple. The character I perhaps understood the most was Bettina and that's because I was a young adult when my parents got divorced and remarried. Not only that but my dad and step-mom also wanted to have a child. So I pretty much understood her emotions and some of her reactions. I'm not saying they were right but they were understandable.

This is an intricate look at female relationships, what it means to be a mother and how that definition has changed over time and will continue to change.

Final Take: 4.5/5



Netherland June 4, 2012 at 10:04 PM  

This novel has an interesting cast of characters from divergent backgrounds. We meet Jules, a not so typical Princeton senior, haunted by her father's decline from a once admired English high school teacher to full blown addict. India is from even rougher circumstances. Her teenage mother left India with her Greek immigrant grandparents to raise. They suffered a series of medical crises that left India adrift and on her own even before she had finished high school. After several decades of a hard knock life she has established her own boutique PR firm in NYC. Annie is from a blue collar family in Pennsylvania. She married her high school sweetheart shortly after graduation and has two young children. Bettina, the daughter of a hedge fund manager, is a senior at Vassar. She has been emotionally scarred by the departure of her mother who moved out west with her yoga instructor when Bettina was only fourteen.

"Then Came You" chronicles the story of how the lives of these women intersect through their connections with a fertility clinic. We see how they each undergo major changes and also how they bring about changes in the lives of each other. We learn some of the emotional, ethical and moral dilemmas that can arise from the use of surrogate mothers.

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