1-I really enjoyed Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper (the story of a girl who sued her parents for the right over her own body: she was being used as extra parts for her dying sister)
2-I read the first few lines on the back about the character ?struggling to fall pregnant? and immediately thought it was a ttc book that I would enjoy.
Well, the story about trying to conceive was actually not the main focus of the book.
Yes, Zoë did try (unsuccessfully) to have a child through IVF: (IVF1, FET (miscarriage at a few weeks), IVF 2, (miscarriage at 18 weeks), FET, IVF 3). It was this last one that was most heart breaking: she miscarries at 28 weeks. During her baby shower no less.
On the other side of the story is Libby, who is also trying to conceive, but without medical assistance. She has gone through five miscarriages (there is a touching section where Max, Zoë’s ex-husband, lays down the fifth marble stone memorial in their garden).Libby is Zoë’s sister in law, but because her and Reid (Max’s brother) belong to a fundamentalist Christian church, Zoë pretty much hates them. I think this is an interesting side issue: they are going through something so similar, and yet they cannot see eye to eye, which is sad.
What I really like about Jodi Picoult’s way of telling stories is that she lets each character have a turn to tell their story. It gives balance and dimension, so that you have sympathy for each person and their viewpoint. Because Zoë is a musical therapist, the chapters are like tracks on a CD, and I think you can look for them as a complement to the book.
The rigours of infertility treatment become too much for Zoë and Max’s marriage. She basically wants to continue with trying, at the risk of her health, and Max has had enough. He leaves her and she is devastated.
In the midst of this numbness, she finds a friend, Vanessa, who is a guidance teacher and asks Zoë as a musical therapist to help a suicidal teen at her school. They land up spending a lot of time together. And they fall in love.
Picoult handles this theme very well: this isn’t about a big lesbian thing, it is the personal relationship. As she says on the cover: “You can’t choose who you love” They get married in another state and start thinking about making babies with Zoë’s left over embryos through Vanessa (Zoë has in the meantime had a hysterectomy due to previously mentioned health problems).
One catch: they need Max’s consent.
Max has, in the meantime, converted to his brother’s happy clappy church. Initially this was actually a good thing because it got him out of his alcoholism. But now with pastors with their own agendas on board, and sleazy lawyers keen to have their fame at his expense, the whole thing becomes a circus. Added to this mix is his desire to give his sister in law the embryos (spoiler alert: who we eventually find out he is actually in love with) so that she can have the child she also deserves.
You have to read the book yourself to find out what happens next. It is a real page turner andyou will not be able to put it down. I gave this book to my mom to read when she visited recently and when the power failed she was holding this book up to the falling light to get to the end to see what happened. And there is a happy ending. But it does have some interesting twists and turns.
As a Daily Mail reporter put it: “Jodi Picoult is not one to shy away from fictional controversy; in fact the more tangled and messy a moral dilemma appear, the better she likes it.”
So what did I learn from this book? If you really want it, you need to get to the point whereyou can give it away. (You have to read the book to see what I mean). And that’s when you’ll get it back. It’s like Solomon and the two women: the true mother was prepared to let her child go rather than having it be killed. And it is the same in infertility; emotionally, I need to let it go. (Medically, I’m going to keep trying for now).