After years of watching her best friends Ben and Claire try for a baby, Romily has offered to give them the one thing that they want most.
Romily expects it will be easy to be a surrogate. She’s already a single mother, and she has no desire for any more children. But Romily isn’t prepared for the overwhelming feelings that have taken hold of her and which threaten to ruin her friendship with Ben and Claire–and even destroy their marriage.
Now there are three friends, two mothers and only one baby, and an impossible decision to make…
For a long time, people struggled with infertility in silence. Now, thanks in large part to the Internet, those who have difficulty conceiving or carrying a baby to term are starting to break that silence. Infertility is becoming a larger conversation, and we as a society are growing in knowledge and compassion because of it. That’s why I’m so glad to see books like Dear Thing doing well.
This is my first Julie Cohen novel, and I was not disappointed. The writing is exquisite, the plot is complex, and the characters feel like real people. By that, I mean that despite their obvious flaws, I still find them loveable. I especially appreciate how the main character’s flaws are in direct opposition to their strengths–Ben’s a loyal, caring friend, but also a bit of a selfish jerk; Claire is nurturing and kind, but has trouble forming deep connections with others; Romily is wicked smart, but the ins and outs of daily life confound her. This serves as an excellent example of what broken, paradoxical creatures we humans are. One of my favorite aspects of this book was the relationship between Romily and her seven-year-old daughter Posie. There was a dynamic there that reminded me of Atticus and Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird.
But really, what most impressed me about Dear Thing was the thorough treatment of the ethical issues surrounding surrogacy and other fertility treatments. If you don’t already have an opinion on the subject, I’m willing to bet you will by the time you finish this book, and odds are it will be completely different from the one I hold. Ms. Cohen does a fantastic job of exploring a very complex situation without telling the reader how to think or feel. That’s the mark of a great novelist, if you ask me.
If you’re not a regular reader of chick lit or women’s fiction, don’t let those labels deter you from picking this book up. It’s well worth the read.
I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.