Saturday, February 27, 2010
In Which Trai Reviews 'The Family They Chose'
The Book: The Family They Chose
The Author: Nancy Robards Thompson
How I Found It: It's the second book in the miniseries The Baby Chase, the first book of which I reviewed last month. (The review is here.)
The Review: Okay. This is another one I wanted to like, I really did. Like the previous book, however, I was underwhelmed. Maybe it's just me and the weird amount of knowledge I have about the topic (likely from my mom's own decent, amateur knowledge of medicine), but this book was relentlessly predictable.
Olivia Armstrong Mallory has been trying for years to conceive a baby with her husband, to no avail. Her siblings, twin brothers Paul and Derek and her younger sister Lisa, all work at the fertility institute her father started years ago. In the previous book, when Olivia goes to Paul for help, he suspects something is wrong in her marriage. It turns out that unbeknownst to anyone, the stress of the failed fertility treatments has led to Olivia and her husband, Jamison, taking a trial separation.
Olivia and Jamison have differing views on whether or not it is feasible to start a family at this point in their lives. Olivia, former ballet dancer and happy homemaker, believes it can save their crumbling marriage. Jamison, a rising Senator on his way to the presidency, believes he might not be a good father due to his less-than-ideal childhood with a womanizing, perennially absent father. They are emotionally distant from each other and can't seem to resolve their problems. Jamison's mother's pressure on the couple to start a family certainly doesn't help matters.
Jamison is forced to leave again on business, while Olivia decides she will try another round of in vitro without telling him. When Olivia receives the news that she is in early onset menopause and conceiving will likely be impossible, and Jamison is led to the wrongful belief that Olivia might be having an affair, they find they have to trust each other and possibly build a family in a different way than they'd imagined.
Okay. Remember how I said in the last review there were potential subplots left hanging? Yeah, never mind, they're not going to be addressed here. That whole business with Ramona needing to find a bone marrow donor to save her mother's life? It's mentioned, but we aren't ever told if she actually found that person, even though Paul gave her the file for it in the last book. Derek's shady business practices? Still not found out, though he does give Olivia an unethical suggestion for getting her pregnant.
That was the part of the book that really, really bothered me-- since Olivia's own eggs aren't viable, Derek suggests labeling someone else's eggs as Olivia's and using Jamison's sperm. The child will still be Jamison's, just not Olivia's.
Um, hello? Completely dishonest, unethical, and wrong. I just couldn't like a heroine who saw this as a viable option. Yes, it's still your husband's child, but... still. I know that the point was supposed to be that Olivia wanted a child no matter what the cost, but she dropped hugely in my likability factor once I found out she'd even consider it a good option. It was horribly wrong and really made me dislike the book even more.
From that point on, I pretty much predicted everything that happened, medical or not. Nothing in the story was a surprise, and the fun is kind of ruined when you keep turning the pages only to realize you've had the whole story figured out. Seeing Olivia and Jamison really come back together was nice, but I just hated how dishonest Olivia was to him.
The book was much better written than the previous one-- since it was a different author, there was no schizophrenic jumping between viewpoints, and I liked seeing a couple in a romance actually be married, instead of having to get there. Olivia wasn't a Mary Sue like Ramona was, but I just had a negative view of her character considering the decisions she made.
I'm probably going to read the rest of the miniseries, but I can really only give a weak recommendation of this book and the previous one.