Saturday, 30 June 2012

Everybody Has Everything

Author: Katrina Onstad
Genre: Modern Fiction / Canadian author
Type: Kindle ebook (Advanced Reading Copy - ARC)
Publication Date: May 29, 2012
Publisher: McClelland and Stewart
ISBN: 9780771068980
First Line: "In the end it took Ana and James only an hour to become parents."

Synopsis: Professional couple Ana and James have successful careers but unfortunately have struggled for years with infertility.  Years of watching their friends become parents and slowly alienate childless Ana and James have taken their toll on the couple.  After numerous unsuccessful rounds of fertility treatments they have started the adoption process in China hoping for a child of their own.

One night Ana and James receive a phone call telling them that their friend Marcus has been killed in a car crash and that Marcus' wife is in a coma.  Though friends with this other couple Ana and James are still shocked to learn that they have been named as guardian for the couple's two and a half year old son, Finn. 

The sudden addition of Finn into their busy lives isn't the way that either Ana or James had envisioned becoming parents.  The stress of sudden parenthood to a toddler begins to show the strengths and weaknesses in Ana and James' marriage as well as Ana's internal struggle about becoming a mother.

My Thoughts:  This book doesn't hold back and jumps right into the highly sensitive topic of parenthood.  Specifically the emotions, stress and fear that some people have regarding parenthood.  Is every woman hardwired to be a mother?  Is it socially acceptable for a woman to be ambivalent towards motherhood or will society judge her harshly and openly?  These are only some of the questions that are raised in this second book by Canadian author Katrina Onstad.

I have to admit that it was the premise of this childless couple being suddenly handed this toddler that enticed me to request this book from the publisher.  I was interested to see how this couple's life would change with the 'disruption' of a small human into their orderly lives. A 'sink or swim' situation involving Pampers and sippy cups, if you will. 

Once Finn is plunked down into their lives Ana and James figure they'll be able to handle this 2 year old.   Parenting is what they've always wanted, right?  While James seems to bond quickly with Finn, Ana just doesn't feel the same attachment and begins to pull away emotionally.   She begins to reevaluate what she really wants in her life and is surprised to learn that motherhood may- not be what she truly desires. Does that make her a oddity when all of her friends are thinking about babies all the time?   Ana and James' very organized life suddenly becomes chaotic and unstable and begins to influence their marriage.

One of my favourite things about this book was seeing the honest portrayal of Ana's struggle to figure out what she truly wants in life.  How she comes to term with the fact that perhaps motherhood isn't necessarily the perfect life for her.  Not an easy thing to admit after years of infertility treatments and a society that places motherhood on a high pedestal. 

One of the strengths of this book are the characters. Onstad's main characters are very relatable and believable, each with their own issues, flaws and strengths.  I could relate to Ana on the whole 'Type A' personality (being one myself) but I have to admit that she came off a bit colder and harsher than I was expecting.  That said my heart did go out to her as she obviously struggled with what she wanted.  This poor woman wasn't given any time to adjust to motherhood yet was expected to just pick up the reigns of motherhood with no notice whatsoever.

James, while he took to parenting easily and was so great with Finn, wasn't without his own faults.  Let's just say that I had a hard time getting past some of the choices he made in this book.  He was a true dichotomy of good dad and crappy husband.  I would have loved to get into James' head on a deeper level if only to understand his obsession with street parking (which I admit baffled me a bit since it took over more of the book than I was expecting).

This was an enjoyable read with a character driven storyline that is perfect if you're in the mood to spark some great discussions.  

Note: Can I also add that I adore it when a Canadian author isn't afraid to show that her book is set in Canada?! I loved seeing references around the Toronto area that even I knew. A refreshing and patriotic shoutout to Canada. Gotta love it (especially on Canada Day weekend, eh?).

My Rating: 3 stars

Note: My sincere thanks to Net Galley and McClelland and Stewart Publishing for providing this book to me in exchange for my honest review.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

can you email me what happens , or how the book ends ? I don't have time to read, but it does sound interesting (Kathy CYBILL)

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