Author: Karma Brown
Genre: Women's Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Canadian
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
First Published: July 12, 2016
First Line: "Hannah - When the phone rings at seven o'clock on Tuesday night, I think it's odd but I don't worry."
Book Description from GoodReads: Hannah and Kate became friends in the fifth grade, when Hannah hit a boy for looking up Kate's skirt with a mirror. While they've been close as sisters ever since, Hannah can't help but feel envious of the little family Kate and her husband, David, have created—complete with two perfect little girls.
She and Ben have been trying for years to have a baby, so when they receive the news that she will likely never get pregnant, Hannah's heartbreak is overwhelming. But just as they begin to tentatively explore the other options, it's Kate's turn to do the rescuing. Not only does she offer to be Hannah's surrogate, but Kate is willing to use her own eggs to do so.
Full of renewed hope, excitement and gratitude, these two families embark on an incredible journey toward parenthood…until a devastating tragedy puts everything these women have worked toward at risk of falling apart. Poignant and refreshingly honest, The Choices We Make is a powerful tale of two mothers, one incredible friendship and the risks we take to make our dreams come true.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Harlequin MIRA and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
My Review: In her latest novel, Karma Brown shows the deep bonds of friendship and the struggles and heartbreak some couples face to become parents. She brings many issues to the forefront, some ethical and some of a very personal nature, and ultimately gets to the heart of the complicated issue of infertility. It's through her empathy regarding her own struggle with infertility, which she discusses at the beginning and at the end of the book, that helps brings a sense of authenticity and understanding about the physical, emotional and psychological implications of desperately wanting, yet unsuccessfully being able to, bare a child.
While this book deals with infertility it's also very much about relationships - between spouses, parents and children, siblings and especially the bond between life-long friends. Brown deftly interconnects these various relationships into a story that will tug at your heart strings and includes realistic dialogue and banter between the characters which helps to give them a relatable feel. Brown also gives her readers food for thought including the legal implications of adoption, IVF and surrogacy as well as ethical issues all the while keeping the story moving forward with the focus being on the relationships between Kate, Hannah and their families.
The story is told from both Hannah and Kate's points of view. Kate and Hannah had a very believable bond and my heart went out to both women as they experienced Hannah's struggle to become a mother. Hannah was a well-rounded character but, at times, it was hard to witness her going through the emotional roller coaster and how her desire to have a baby of her own clouds her judgement. Some of her decisions could easily be seen as selfish and even a heartless. Reading about this change in her was hard but Brown gives readers many different sides of the issue which make it hard to come down too harshly on Hannah as we see her struggle.
This was an enjoyable, enlightening and quick read (I read the last half of the book in one sitting). I admit to predicting the big twist in the plot but Brown brings so much depth to her writing than I initially expected which left me eager to know how things would pan out for these two BFFs and their respective families. Guessing the twist didn't make reading about it any less emotional.
I found this to be a touching read. There are issues, drama and conflict between the friends which escalate but the plot usually stayed believable leaving me to see multiple sides of the issue and, when it boils down to it, how everyone is hurt by the situation that arises. It packs a hefty emotional punch leaving readers with feelings of disappointment, sadness, hope, relief, frustration, love, fear and grief. It runs the emotional gamut and I'd rate it a 'three hanky read' (out of 5) for the tear fest that ensued but I ultimately came away from this book with a better understanding of what some couples endure to become parents.