Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Claiming Noah by Amanda Ortlepp

Book description: 

This riveting debut novel of psychological suspense explores the dilemmas that arise when motherhood and science collide. 

Catriona Sinclair has always had a well-developed sense of independence--in fact the one sore point in her otherwise happy marriage is her husband James's desire to take care of her. As she's often tried to explain to him, she took care of herself before she met him, and did a good job of it. But James has been especially attentive lately as they struggle to have a baby. They succeed at last through in vitro fertilization, but unwilling to risk the heartbreak of another miscarriage, they decide to make their "spare" frozen embryo available to another family. 

Diana and Liam Simmons are desperate for a child. Unable to conceive, they are overjoyed to learn that as the closest genetic match to the Sinclairs they are the recipients of the embryo donation. Diana's only concern is her mother's disapproval of IVF, but any doubts raised are quickly eclipsed by Diana's joy of being pregnant. 

As Diana is finding delight in every aspect of motherhood, Catriona keeps waiting for the rush of adoration she knows she is supposed to feel, but instead slips into a deep depression. Just as Catriona begins to find her way back to normalcy, one of the babies is kidnapped. Suddenly, all of their lives begin to unravel and intertwine, and none of them will ever be the same.

My review:

  I will say up front that I assumed this was Christian fiction, as Center Street does do some Christian fiction. It is not Christian fiction, but I still enjoyed the book other than the curse words scattered throughout, one reason I read mostly Christian fiction. I WAS surprised they allowed a use of the "F-word" in the book, but it was only one use. I was also bothered by the favorable view of a gay relationship in the book.

  That aside, this was a great read. The author took a modern day issue that can be controversial, and spun a great dramatic tale around it. She did a great job of detailing the anguish of two couples trying to have a baby, with the one having no success at all... hence the embryo adoption. I got a glimpse of what that involves, and the decisions that need to be made.

 I liked most of the main characters. I thought the one guy was a jerk, and he did turn out to be exactly that. The muddy issue of what happens when the birth mother wants the baby that came from her embryo played center stage, and I found myself sympathizing with both mothers.

 The kidnapping wasn't a surprise, as it is referenced in the book description. The who and why of the kidnapping WAS a surprise and added a whole new angle to the story.

 This isn't what I would call a mystery/suspense novel, other than the kidnapping. However, it is a very gripping novel that I didn't want to put down. And though the book was not Christian, the theme of forgiveness was in the book.

 If you enjoy secular fiction, you'll like this book. If you usually read Christian fiction but can handle some cursing and a book with a more secular book, you may also enjoy this book. I did.

 And if the issue of adopting embryos and artificial insemination interests you, this is a great way to get a look at the pros and cons.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:

Amanda Ortlepp's debut novel, Claiming Noah, was published in Australia and New Zealand in 2015. Its ethical dilemmas and emotionally-charged themes struck a chord with mothers and book clubs in particular and it became a bestseller. Claiming Noah will be published in the US and Canada in July 2016. Amanda's second novel, Running Against the Tide, is set on the remote Eyre Peninsula in South Australia where her father grew up. It was published in Australia and New Zealand in 2016. Amanda lives in Sydney

Claiming Noah is available from Center Street Publishing, part of the Hachette Book Group.

Thanks to Center Street for the review copy.