Title: Dear Thing by Julie Cohen
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 432 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
After years of watching her best friends Ben and Claire try for a baby, Romily has offered to give them the one thing that they want most.
Romily expects it will be easy to be a surrogate. She’s already a single mother, and she has no desire for any more children. But Romily isn’t prepared for the overwhelming feelings that have taken hold of her and which threaten to ruin her friendship with Ben and Claire-and even destroy their marriage.
Now there are three friends, two mothers and only one baby, and an impossible decision to make…
Thought-provoking, heart-rending but ultimately uplifting, Julie Cohen’s Dear Thing is a book you won’t be able to put down, until you pass it on to your best friends.
Dear Thing by Julie Cohen is an emotional, poignant and thought-provoking novel about infertility and surrogacy.
Ben and Claire Lawrence are the perfect couple. Happily married and successful, they have been trying unsuccessfully to conceive and after their latest IVF ends in a miscarriage, Claire is ready to give up. Upset over Claire’s decision, a drunken Ben confides in his best gal pal and single mom Romily Summer. Romily impetuously suggests that she be their surrogate and Ben does not have to think twice before eagerly accepting her generous offer. Needless to say, he is stunned by Claire’s hesitation to move forward with the plan. After careful consideration, Claire’s desire for a baby outweighs her many reservations about the arrangement and Romily is soon pregnant with their baby.
While the plan seems simple enough, things quickly become complicated as the months pass. Claire is hesitant to believe their good fortune and although grateful for Romily’s willingness to be their surrogate, she cannot help but feel like a failure. Despite her assertions that she will not become attached to her unborn child, Romily’s longtime love for Ben changes her feelings about the baby she is carrying. Ben becomes confused about his emotions when he begins viewing Romily as the mother of his child instead of his best friend.
Claire is a little uptight and reserved so she sometimes appears emotionless and distant. She and Romily have never been particularly close and things are often awkward between them without Ben acting as a buffer. Angry and a bit resentful that Romily can have a baby while she cannot, Claire refuses to become involved with the pregnancy for the first few months. A teacher at a local school, she becomes over involved with a trouble student and even though her heart is in the right place, Claire loses her objectivity and jeopardizes her career.
Unlike über structured Claire, Romily is disorganized and a wee bit forgetful. A scientist, she is analytical and logical so she is taken off guard by the emotional impact of her pregnancy. Friends with Ben since college, Romily has been in love with him almost since their first meeting. Before she could work up the nerve to confess her feelings, Ben fell in love with Claire and Romily was content to stay his friend although her love for him never waned. After a casual fling years earlier, she gave birth to daughter Posie who is now a precocious but charming seven year old. No one is more surprised than Romily when old flame Jarvis re-enters her life and once he discovers he is a father, he wants to get to know his daughter.
Although Ben is the catalyst that sets the surrogacy into motion, he remains on the periphery of the story. He encourages Claire to spend time with Romily and he blithely goes on with his life without realizing the emotional firestorm he has inadvertently created. As Ben spends more time with Romily, Claire feels more and more left out. With Ben unable to understand Claire’s concerns, the two begin to drift apart and it is only a matter of time before their marriage reaches a crisis point.
Dear Thing thunders to an uncertain conclusion as tensions mount and emotions run high between Claire, Romily and Ben. With unexpected twists and turns, Julie Cohen skillfully keeps readers on the edge of their seats wondering how this delicate situation is going to be resolved right until the story’s heartwarming ending. This fast paced and riveting story is a sensitive and compassionate depiction of surrogacy and infertility and I highly recommend it to fans of contemporary women’s fiction.