Title: The Choices We Make by Karma Brown
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Following her bestselling debut novel Come Away with Me, Karma Brown returns with an unforgettable story that explores the intricate dynamics of friendship and parenthood
Hannah and Kate became friends in the fifth grade, when Hannah hit a boy for looking up Kate’s skirt with a mirror. While they’ve been close as sisters ever since, Hannah can’t help but feel envious of the little family Kate and her husband, David, have created—complete with two perfect little girls.
She and Ben have been trying for years to have a baby, so when they receive the news that she will likely never get pregnant, Hannah’s heartbreak is overwhelming. But just as they begin to tentatively explore the other options, it’s Kate’s turn to do the rescuing. Not only does she offer to be Hannah’s surrogate, but Kate is willing to use her own eggs to do so.
Full of renewed hope, excitement and gratitude, these two families embark on an incredible journey toward parenthood…until a devastating tragedy puts everything these women have worked toward at risk of falling apart. Poignant and refreshingly honest, The Choices We Make is a powerful tale of an incredible friendship and the risks we take to make our dreams come true.
The Choices We Make by Karma Brown is an emotionally compelling and deeply poignant novel about friendship and motherhood.
Hannah and Ben Matthews have been dealing with infertility for six long years. With a series of failed procedures and heartbreaking miscarriages behind them, they are nonetheless stunned by the news that Hannah will most likely never sustain a pregnancy. Not ready to give up their dream of having a baby, Hannah suggests a surrogate but Ben would rather look into adoption. Much to their surprise, Hannah’s best friend, Kate Cabot, volunteers to not only carry a baby for them but also use her eggs. Hannah and Ben eagerly accept her generous offer but their excitement over the impending birth is shattered by an unexpected tragedy.
Hannah is an extremely sympathetic character whose struggle with infertility is absolutely heartbreaking. Emotionally and physically exhausted by various treatments and negative pregnancy tests, it is still difficult for her to give up on having a child. While the quest for parenthood has taken a bit of a toll on her marriage, she and Ben still remain close and committed to becoming parents. However, she is vehemently opposed to adoption but she cannot bring herself to discuss her fears with Ben so she dismisses the option outright without fully explaining her reasons. Instead she continues researching surrogacy despite Ben’s reluctance to go that route. Since she cannot discuss the topic with Ben, she turns to Kate for support. Kate tries to dissuade her from going any further with her plans but will Hannah’s need for a baby lead her to make a decision she will come to regret?
Happily married to her paramedic husband David, Kate is a stay at home mom to their two daughters. The two couples are best of friends so she is absolutely shocked by David’s initial reaction to her suggestion to become a surrogate for Hannah and Ben. She is even more surprised by Hannah’s hesitance to consider using her as surrogate but once the Matthews are out of options, David reconsiders his decision. With David now completely on board, Kate once again offers to be their surrogate using her eggs and she is soon pregnant. While the pregnancy is mostly trouble free, there are a few unexpected hiccups that make both couples realize how fragile happiness can be.
Hannah’s struggle to become pregnant is realistically portrayed. The emotional impact of her infertility is almost overwhelming as she is confronted by pregnant women and babies everywhere she turns. An unexpected pregnancy close to home is especially devastating and her happiness over the news is tempered by her envy. Although Ben never blames her for their childless state, Hannah carries a lot of guilt and shame over her inability to conceive. There is a bit of a disconnect between them since she is convinced their infertility affects her the most since she is the one who cannot get pregnant. Hannah is sometimes self-absorbed and she occasionally puts her needs and desires ahead of everyone else’s. This is especially frustrating when tragedy strikes and while some of her actions and feelings are understandable, she is insensitive instead of supportive and some of her decisions are absolutely jaw-dropping and nearly impossible to comprehend.
The Choices We Make is a truly captivating novel that delves into emotionally fraught and morally subjective topics. Karma Brown presents these difficult issues with a great deal of sensitivity in a realistic and forthright manner. The characters are sympathetic and likable but when faced with a heart wrenching decision, a cherished friendship is nearly destroyed after sides are taken and harsh words are spoken. This touching story of friendship balances joy with sorrow as it culminates with an intensely emotional conclusion that will bring readers to tears.