Friday, 22 August 2014

Book Review - Dear Thing by Julie Cohen

Dear Thing
Published: May 2014 (this edition)
Publisher: Black Swan
Pages: 482
Source: Library Copy
“Dear Thing” is a real emotional rollercoaster of a book which tackles the topic of surrogacy; it’s so beautifully absorbing that you will not be able to put it down.
Ben and Claire have an almost perfect life; the only thing missing is a baby. They have been trying to have a baby for years and have gone through numerous tests and cycles of IVF, after their latest failure Claire decides she’s had enough and begins to a contemplate life without children. Ben is heartbroken and seeks comfort with best friend and single mum Romily. Romily in a drunken haze offers to be a surrogate for Ben and Claire, she found pregnancy easy with her daughter Posie  and would do anything to help her friends. Before she really has chance to let this idea sink in she finds she’s pregnant and there is no going back. When reality sinks in Romily’s feelings which she has kept hidden for so long are beginning to surface and could threaten her friendship with Ben and Claire and potentially wreck their marriage. This is the story of an impossible decision when there are two mothers and only one baby.
Surrogacy is not a topic which is written about very much but Cohen has done a wonderful job of highlighting the issues that arise and showing us both sides of the story. It really tugs at your heart as right from the first page you feel the heartbreak Ben and Claire are suffering and you can feel the despair as they face yet another setback in their dreams. Cohen has made the reader feel like they are also feeling the emotions of the characters and as the story is told from the perspectives of Claire, Ben and  Romily you feel like you are pulled one way then another.
I think Cohen has done a brilliant job in the portrayal of the two contrasting “mothers”. Claire is the perfect motherly type, she’s organised, caring, loves cooking from scratch and you can tell her whole focus will be on making “Thing” completely happy, the only thing she can’t do is conceive and carry her child. Romily is dis-organised, forgetful and more focused on her own life than Posie’s, but she has the perfect body for growing a baby. Both totally different but both want the baby so much.
I think my favourite character was Romily’s daughter Mariposa “Posie”, I just love that unique name and thought it suited this very intelligent and insightful seven year old perfectly. I thought Posie brought some light- heartedness to a book which was needed when dealing with such a serious topic.
The title “Dear Thing” comes from the letters which Romily begins to write to the unborn baby as a way to work out her feelings that are churning inside her. It’s through these letters that we learn more about Romily and why she makes such a huge gesture to her friends and I think they help us to understand her and the way she is with Posie.
This book is truly gripping and I loved that things didn’t always go the way you expected, which kept you just wanting more. This is not just a book about surrogacy and longing for a child, it’s about friendship, about finally letting go of the past and about realising what you thought you wanted is not always what you need. It is a book which will stay with you for a long time and one which I thing anyone who has a child should read.  Truly breath-taking, I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

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