Tag Archives: Infertility

Book Buzz: Little Fires Everywhere

Book Buzz: Little Fires Everywhere

As I raced toward the explosive conclusion of Little Fires Everywhere, I simultaneously couldn’t wait to find out what happened but dreaded finishing this extraordinary read. You know that feeling, right?

I loved Celeste Ng’s debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, with every fiber of my being. It was a captivating story of race and prejudice and family dynamics, and it went on to win a ton of awards and made Ng a respected new voice in fiction.

Patiently, I waited for Ng’s sophomore novel to be released.

The wait was worth it, people.

Little Fires Everywhere is, well, brilliant.

Book Buzz: Little Fires Everywhere

 

Little Fires Everywhere

The story of two families in Shaker Heights, Ohio — Mr. and Mrs. Richardson and their four children, the “haves,” and Mia Warren and her daughter, Pearl, the “have nots,” whose lives intersect for a brief period of time and everything changes collossally for both families.

Elena Richardson is the matriarch — a Shaker Heights native whose expectations for her life followed a prescribed formula, just as the community itself had been one of the first planned communities in the U.S.

All she wanted was marriage, children, career, and a lovely home. And it pretty much worked out that way.

But then, Mia and her teenage daughter Pearl arrive on the scene. Looking for an affordable place to live, they rent a small house owned by the Richardsons. Mia is an independent thinker, an artist on the side; she needs to work several low-paying jobs to make ends meet. Pearl is a shy but friendly girl,  and is embraced by the Richardson family and spends most of her time hanging out with them.

In short order both mother and become more than tenants: each of the four Richardson children is drawn to these women, and Elena Richardson employs Mia as a part-time housekeeper.

Elena  is curious about Mia’s past, and feels prompted to nose around when Mia becomes intimately involved in a child custody case involving a friend Mia has met at one of her jobs.

The friend is a Chinese mother, Bebe, who abandoned her infant during a time of duress. The infant is given to the McCulloughs, friends of the Richardsons, who had struggled with infertility for years and were on an adoption waiting list. Now the baby is a year old, and the McCulloughs have assumed this child will be theirs forever.

But then Bebe reappears, and wants her daughter back.

The case divides the community, as well as the Richardson family. I won’t say more, because I don’t want to spoil it. Coincidentally, the novel I reviewed last week, Lucky Boy, had the same theme. In both books it is dealt with so compassionately and even-handedly. I admire both authors for being able to find compelling voices on both sides of an emotional issue.

Ng’s characters are so well drawn, each unique and credible, and truly, Shaker Heights itself must be counted as one of the protagonists. Shaker Heights, Ng’s hometown, was  planned with the best intentions and idealism, and although successful in some areas, it nonetheless is beset with the same race and class issues faced just about everywhere else.

I am sure that Little Fires Everywhere will have the same phenomenal success of Ng’s previous novel. Already, Amazon has named it a “Best Book of September 2017.”

And I sure hope Ng is working on her third.

 

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of Little Fires Everywhere. To enter this giveaway, click on the Books is Wonderful Facebook page and leave a comment. US addresses only, please. The winner will be randomly selected.

 

I received a copy of Little Fires Everywhere from Penguin Press for an honest review, which is is the only kind of review I write.

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Book Buzz: Start at the Beginning

Although my child bearing days are long over, I remember my pregnancies as being a time of intense happiness and dizzying anticipation.

I was lucky, very lucky.  I had an easy time of it, from the very beginning to the end.

I still count my blessings, because for many women, it’s not easy at all.

In my 20s and 30s, when my friends and I were starting our families, there was plenty of joy to go around. With each announcement of the good news, we would squeal with delight for the new mama-to-be. Our conversations were all about pregnancy, obstetricians, baby names and where to find Mommy and Me classes.

But there were a few friends who were dealing with infertility issues, and our hearts broke for them. Out of respect, we kept our baby talk to a minimum when they were around. We cheered them on through fertility treatments and shared their anguish when the treatments failed.

Infertility was a strain on their relationships with their husbands, family and friends, including those of us either pregnant or already mothers. Some chose to be open about it; others preferred not to. Either way, their preferences had to be respected. As close as we were, I’m sure we didn’t understand the extent of the sadness they were going through.

I thought of this while reading Judy Mollen Walters’ absorbing new novel, Start at the Beginning, the story of how infertility can affect a friendship and continue to reverberate for years after.

Start at the Beginning

Robin is struggling with infertility when she meets Sarah, a young mother who just moved to the neighborhood with her husband and baby daughter. Robin and Sarah become good friends, in spite of the fact that Robin is unwillingly childless. Each time Robin gets pregnant, Sarah is sure everything will finally turn out well for her friend.

However, heartbreak strikes again and again, as Robin goes through several miscarriages. How does this affect her friendship with Sarah? Sarah, wanting to support her friend, is hurt when Robin pulls away. But she understands that Robin needs her space, and eventually they will resume their friendship. At the same time, she is overburdened with her daughter’s special needs and her husband’s business travels that keep him away most of the week.

Having exhausted all their options, Robin and her husband have almost given up. Then one day a solution appears, which seems to provide the happy ending both Robin and Sarah desire. Unbeknownst to them, this solution, couched in layers of secrecy, will have a ripple effect on their families and themselves for many years to come, changing lives beyond their comprehension.

Walters deftly describes the close but precarious friendship between these women as they both deal with wanting what they can’t have. Start From the Beginning is an honest, heartrending look into a couple’s quest to become parents and an aftermath they never could have imagined.

 

Walters will be speaking this Saturday, March 19, at the New Jersey ASJA in Cranford, New Jersey. For details and information about future events, plus her other novels, check out her website.

I received a copy of Start at the Beginning for an honest review,
which is the only kind of review I write.

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Book Buzz: The Longest Date

I’ve discovered my new best friend.

Not that she is aware of my affection. But I’ll state it right here and now: Cindy Chupack, I want to be your BFF.

It took just a few pages into her new book,  “The Longest Date: Life as a Wife,” to become enchanted with this immensely likeable woman and her story. Totally absorbed by the time I finished the Introduction, I settled in for what would be an afternoon of reading pleasure.

I didn’t get up until I finished reading it.

The Longest Date

In this memoir of her midlife dating escapades and two marriages, Cindy (since we’re on a first name basis, or so I’d like to think) opens the door to her world with a virtual hug and a cup of coffee.

I was immediately drawn to her because of her humor and warmth. Let me tell you, Cindy is funny. Not just funny ha ha, but funny clever and funny self-deprecating. Funny in a natural, unforced kind of way. Like she’s not trying to convince you. It’s just the way she is.

She writes conversationally about her first marriage that ended when her husband announced he was gay, her romance with and marriage to bad boy Ian, about gaining and losing weight and their St. Bernard dog and cooking four-ingredient meals and going to extremes to make a housekeeper happy.

I giggled reading the chapters “The First No No Noel” (about Jewish people celebrating Christmas) and “I Find My Husband Rappelling” (Ian’s adventure with a garden hose) and “Eggspecting” which you’re just going to have to read to learn more.

But it was her emotional recounting of their quest for parenthood that was spiked with such frankness and pain that I was moved to tears.

So who is Cindy Chupak and where has she been all my life? Turns out she won three Golden Globes and an Emmy for her work as a writer/executive producer on HBO’s Sex and the City. AND she has written for Modern Family, Everybody Loves Raymond AND she has had her own column in “O” Magazine.

I loved this book (can you tell?).  And so did 20th Century Fox TV, which has already signed on to create a comedy based on “The Longest Date,” with Cindy writing and executive producing along with executive producer and director Jake Kasdan.

I think you will love this book, too. I am delighted to give away a free copy to one of you. Leave a comment and I will make a random selection.

But forget about being BFFs with Cindy. She’s already taken.

 

Disclosure: I received a free copy of The Longest Date for review from Viking,  plus a book for one of my readers. All opinions are my own.

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