Friday, April 14, 2017

The Idea of you

Title:  The Idea of You
Author:  Amanda Prowse
Publication Information:  Lake Union Publishing. 2017. 332 pages.
ISBN:  1503942333 / 978-1503942332

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Are you nervous, sweetie?"

Favorite Quote:  "When you have kids you watch them grow, love them, guide them and have days when you could happily abandon them, but every day is your training ground and every month, every year merges into the next, and it happens fast."

The main idea underlying The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse is the definition of "you." The dedication to the book points the way. "The Idea of You is dedicated to every women who has known the pain of miscarriage, who has felt her hopes and dreams of motherhood end without warning. Maybe she is like me and is unsure of how to grieve, how to mourn something that was never whole, and yet touched her soul in a way that is difficult to describe." The "you" in the book is clearly a child lost. Sprinkled throughout the book are Lucy Carpenter's musings addressed to a baby girl - a child lost.

Lucy and Jonah meet. Lucy is recovering from a broken relationship and meets Jonah at the christening of a friend's baby. The rest, as they say, is history. They fall in love, marry, and look forward to a long and happy life together. They also look forward to raising a family together. Pregnancies come but sadly are followed by miscarriages. Lucy's sadness begins to overshadow other aspects of her life, her career, and her marriage.

Everybody surrounding Lucy seems to be a parent. Her sister has her brood. Her co-workers have kids. Even Jonah has a teenage daughter from a previous marriage. This compounds the sense of isolation that Lucy feels.

What is the meaning of motherhood? Is it giving birth that makes you a mother? Is it something else? This sense of grief, this longing, and these questions are the poignant basis for this book. The emotion definitely comes through. However, two things keep this book from having a more powerful impact for me.

First, this book is about Lucy. Lucy's emotions and thoughts are all about Lucy. This is especially true in two scenarios. It is true in how the character of Jonah is treated in the book. With each miscarriage, he too loses child. Warranted, the loss of a mother carrying that child is different, but nevertheless, a father experiences grief as well. However, that does not really come through in the book. This is about Lucy's loss, and Jonah comes across as a little too understanding and a little too perfect in his support. Lucy's focus on Lucy is also clear with her response to a teenager in crisis. Lucy walks away to deal with her own grief and her own emotions. The reality of being an adult - a parent by the fact of giving birth or by choice of love - is that you help the child first. As such, while I sympathize with Lucy's losses, she comes across as a somewhat self-absorbed character.

Second, the resolution of this book steps away from the grief and loss of miscarriage. Hints are dropped throughout, but, at the same time, that second story line seems out of place. It is still about profound loss but not the same loss. As such, the book becomes about two main themes, and the second overshadows what initially draws me into the book. I wish the book had explored more its initial theme of miscarriage and its impact on not just the woman but the family who experiences it.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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