Title: Expecting by Ann Lewis Hamilton
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
A mom, a dad, a baby…and another dad.
Laurie and Alan are expecting, again. After two miscarriages, Laurie was afraid they’d never be able to have a child. Now she’s cautiously optimistic — the fertility treatment worked, and things seem to be different this time around. But she doesn’t yet know how different.
Jack can’t seem to catch a break — his parents are on his case about graduating from college, he’s somehow dating two girls at once, and he has to find a way to pay back the money he borrowed from his fraternity’s party fund. The only jobs he is qualified for barely pay enough to keep him in beer money, but an ad for the local sperm bank gives Jack an idea.
Laurie and Alan’s joy is shattered when their doctor reveals that Laurie was accidentally impregnated by sperm from a donor rather than her husband. Who is Donor 296. And how will their family change now that Donor 296 is inarguably part of it?
Expecting by Ann Lewis Hamilton is an interesting novel about one couple’s struggle with infertility. After Laurie’s two pregnancies end in early miscarriages, she and her husband Alan undergo intrauterine insemination to improve their chances at pregnancy. They are thrilled when the procedure works but they are stunned to learn Laurie was impregnated with another man’s sperm.
Expecting is written in third person from the alternating perspectives of the three main characters: Laurie, Alan and Jack, the biological father of Laurie’s baby. Each of the shift changes are clearly marked so it is easy to keep up with which character is currently narrating the story.
Laurie and Alan have a solid marriage and while they are both devastated by the miscarriages, they do not give up on their dream of having a baby. Laurie is more open to adoption while Alan is a little more hesitant. So it really does not come as a huge surprise that Alan has a more difficult time with the news about the mix-up at the fertility clinic. Instead of discussing his doubts with Laurie, he becomes very introspective as he tries to come to terms with his uncertainties and eventually makes a decision that puts their marriage at risk.
Laurie is pragmatic about the news and while she is not happy that Alan is not the baby’s father, she never considers ending her pregnancy. She is compelled to learn as much as she can about the sperm donor, and when she inadvertently discovers his identity, she does not hesitate to contact him. Laurie tries to pressure Alan into meeting Jack and her continued involvement with Jack contributes to the growing distance between her and Alan.
In the beginning of Expecting, Jack is immature and rather directionless. A typical frat boy, he is more interested in drinking and getting laid than graduating from college. Once Laurie tracks him down, they quickly become friends and Jack’s life finally gets on track, but his role (if any) in the baby’s life remains uncertain.
While Expecting is a well-written character driven novel, some of the passages are rambling with the characters dreaming up ridiculous “what if” scenarios that really have no bearing on the unfolding story. The pacing is a bit slow and uneven but after the first quarter, it becomes a little faster paced.
Entertaining and engrossing, Ann Lewis Hamilton’s Expecting is refreshingly unique novel with strong character development and an unpredictable storyline that keeps readers guessing the story’s final outcome.