Right from the word go, Jodi Picoult plunges the reader into the drama and the tragedy of a woman, who has tried for years to get pregnant, losing her baby. Needless to say, this book is emotional. In a nut shell, it tells the story of a woman’s fight to be able to have a child with the woman she loves, the struggle to overcome the prejudice of the church and for gay rights to become accepted, all in a thrilling court case. It is fascinating, moving and, ultimately, gripping.
First of all, I like how it is told from the perspective of the three main characters: Zoe, Max and Vanessa. It made me feel like I really got to know each of them well, making them seem a lot more real, and allowed me to understand all of their different viewpoints and reasons for their actions.
There are so many different debates and ethical issues in this book, it really gets you thinking. The main points brought to our attention are gay rights and gay couples having children, couples that can’t have children, relationships, Evangelical Christians and the Church’s views on homosexuality. It’s so interesting and great to discuss with other people that have read it.
*SPOILER- stop reading if you have not read this book yet*
It was very moving at the beginning but also very infuriating. Zoe’s obsession with having a baby has driven away all her friends and then eventually her husband, I pitied her but also wanted to shake her and tell her it wasn’t the be-all and end-all, why not try adopting rather than taking so many medical and health risks trying to conceive?
Moreover, I thought the beginning was a bit horrific, it seemed like one terrible thing after another and I was thinking ‘this really isn’t my sort of book, I want to escape from the depressingness of real life, not read about someone else’s problems’. However, after all the initial drama and heartbreak, it did get better, by half way I was hooked, and by the end I read into the early hours of the morning to find out what would happen!
Personally, I was angered by the Evangelical church and the hypocritical and old fashioned views that it took on gay people, picking and choosing which bits of the bible to believe and take literally, and which parts not too. I found Pauline, the Christian woman who described herself as being ‘ex-gay’ quite a sad and very irritating character as she clearly was still gay (having never actually been in a relationship with a man) yet had repressed all those feelings and preached to others to not be gay anymore.
However, Max was by far the most infuriating character. He was just so weak and pathetic. The fact that he was trying to have a baby in the first place was only because Zoe wanted one so badly, and him turning to religion was mainly due to Reid and Liddy pressuring him. He’d been in love with Liddy for ages, and that’s what made me so angry; he wanted the embryos for the selfish reason of Liddy having his baby, not because he thought Zoe and Vanessa would be corrupt. I felt so sorry for Zoe and so angry on her behalf.
I enjoyed how Jodi Picoult portrayed the two warring couples (Zoe and Vanessa, and Liddy and Reid) in a very ironic way. The church was arguing that Zoe and Vanessa should not have children because their relationship was a sin and not stable, whereas Liddy and Reid’s was perfect in every way. As the reader, we saw that, in fact, the opposite was true: Zoe and Vanessa were happy and stable, whereas Liddy and Reid had a strange and ultimately breakable relationship. I enjoyed the hypocrisy and the way in which Jodi highlighted it in an almost satirical way. This book certainly does not portray religion in a good light; it’s unyielding, outdated, prejudice, hypocritical and cruel.
I liked the ending- I was surprised but glad that it ended happily- but then I am a bit of a sucker for a happy ending! The final chapter was interestingly done through the narration of Sammy, although I do wish I could have found out more about what happened to the characters; for instance, what happened to Reid? And did Liddy try for a baby again?
Overall, this book gives you a lot to think about and is very different. It is not the kind of book I would normally read and I am glad that I have. I have been thinking about it for days after finishing and it has certainly made me want to read more of Jodi Picoult’s books.
Has anyone else read it? What did you think? Does anyone fancy reading it now?