My Rating ~ Five Stars
RELEASE DATE: 7 January 2020
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Two couples. One baby. An unimaginable choice.
Grace and Dan Arden are in their forties and have been on the IVF treadmill since the day they got married. Six attempts have yielded no results and with each failure a little piece of their hope dies.
Indian-Australian Priya Laghari and her husband Nick Archer are being treated at the same fertility clinic and while the younger couple doesn’t face the same time pressure as the Ardens, the Archers have their own problems. Priya suspects Nick is cheating and when she discovers a dating app on his phone her worst fears are confirmed.?
Priya leaves Nick and goes through an IVF cycle with donor sperm. On the day of her appointment, Grace and Dan also go in for their final, last-chance embryo transfer. Two weeks later the women both get their results: Grace is pregnant. Priya is not.?
A year later, angry and heart-broken, Priya learns her embryo was implanted in another woman’s uterus and must make a choice: live a childless life knowing her son is being raised by strangers or seek custody of a baby that has been nurtured and loved by another couple.
Thank you so much to Allen & Unwin for providing me with a copy of The Mothers, in exchange for an honest review!
What makes a parent? Nature or nurture?
I think this book will hit some people harder than others. For parents, and especially parents (like me) who have been through IVF, the true level of horror is probably more apparent. My daughter was brought into the world via IVF and I know the realities of how strict their protocols and checks are, so although it doesn’t strike me as a common risk in any sense, the unimaginable grief it would bring to a couple, to be afraid they may have their baby taken from them, due to a clerical error, still sits heavy in my heart. I couldn’t even give back a puppy, not about a child.
When a mix up in the lab results in one couple having a positive pregnancy outcome and the other not, it’s just another day in IVF. But when the baby is born and the parents notice he doesn’t look anything like either of them, seeds of doubt start to grow in their mind. Hiding the baby away from the world, to avoid questions, will only work for so long. But surely no-one would actually be able to take him from them, if there was an error with their transfer? Or could they?
This book was probably one of the most harrowing books I’ve ever read. While I know a lot of people will probably find themselves sympathising with both parties in the situation, I just couldn’t. A mother grew, birthed and cared for a baby. In my mind, that makes a mother, not DNA. I have friends who have needed to use entire donor embryo’s to have babies, so their children are not biologically related to them in any way, and I’d fight anyone who suggested they are not their real parents. My husband and I have embryos we want to donate to another couple in need. A baby resulting from that would in no way be our baby. I admit, I was shaking with rage for some of this book, particularly at the actions of one of the husbands and the wife’s family’s terrible advice to her about it! Head’s up ladies – if your husband is sexting other women, you should not ignore it because ‘he didn’t actually sleep with them though’ Ugh! But my emotions throughout the story didn’t mean I didn’t love it, quite the opposite! I love when books can make me feel strongly. The Mothers was an intense, thought provoking and raw book. I’d highly recommend it (although maybe wait to read it if you’re currently going through IVF 😏 )
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