Follow me on the crazy, hopeful, discouraging, funny, and ultimately successful (one way or another) path to parenthood while facing infertility.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Infertility/Adoption Subplots Strike Again

Well, I was anyway. 
In the past couple of months I have had not one, not two, but THREE books have subplots that I just wasn't expecting.

The first was Run by Ann Patchett. I love her writing, and picked this one up because it sounded twisty -- a father and his sons out for an evening encounter an accident and a chance meeting that threatens to change their family as they know it. I was thinking it was some kind of drunk driving thing, some kind of how-do-I-protect-my-son-from-himself kind of thing. Nope. It was an ADOPTION BOOK. (Possible spoilers but nothing that truly ruins things) -- the father is the former mayor of Boston, and he and his wife adopted two African-American sons after their biological son was older (12 I think) because she had recurrent losses and wasn't able to carry anymore. That all comes up in the first 20 pages or so. The accident involves another woman and her daughter who seem to have a connection to the sons...I bet you can guess what that might be (sort of ). So not what I was expecting. I did think that adoption was handled very sensitively in the book, and that all parts of the triad/constellation were represented well and empathetically. So I didn't mind once I got over that it wasn't what I thought it was going to be.

The next book was another Ann Patchett -- State of Wonder, which is sort of a reimagined Heart of Darkness with a woman who is sent into the Amazon after a doctor who has lost her connections with the company funding her research and she needs to get updates and bring her back. Here is the sentence that let me know it wasn't necessarily cancer research happening in the Amazon (as I'd assumed): "Their eggs aren't aging, do you get that? The rest of the body goes along its path to destruction while the reproductive system stays daisy fresh. This is the end of IVF. No more expense, no more shots that don't end up working, no more donor eggs and surrogates. This is ovum in perpetuity, menstruation everlasting." Aha. It threw me off that the tribe the older doctor was immersed in could have babies into their seventies, and that PERFECT EGGS were deemed the end of IVF. What about male factor? What about uterine issues? I could have perfect eggs and nothing would implant in my uterus (for long). The book was very, very good but that whole subplot made me throw the book across my backyard when I discovered it, at about page 26.

I started a new book this week, one I was excited about because it's sort of an apocalyptic type thing -- a couple goes to live a "more authentic" life in rural Vermont, leaving their hipster life behind, when a giant superstorm (or series of superstorms) comes and starts breaking apart their small community and bringing a whole lot of crazy out and they have to figure out if it's the storm that's more destructive or humanity. Sounds great, right? It's We Are Unprepared by Meg Little Reilly. Guess what's in the FIRST EFFING PARAGRAPH? In the SECOND SENTENCE? "Pia and I had just met with a fertility specialist in Burlington and we were both staring straight ahead at the road as we digested the information we'd received there." Oh, OH GOOD. It mentioned marital strain, so adding in infertility and one party's ambivalence towards parenthood should accomplish that pretty handily. I was so, so very mad. KEEP INFERTILITY OUT OF THE END OF THE WORLD, GODDAMMIT! (I finished the book today and it had some other annoying things involving family building, but thankfully the infertility piece was short-lived.)

And so I think I might just read all YA literature moving forward, because it's rare that infertility pops up there. I wish adoption popped up with more regularity, that would actually be nice to have more adoptee perspectives that aren't hackneyed in YA literature (let me know if you've got recommendations), but at least I know no one will be doing shots of Gonal or PIO in the middle of a post-apocalyptic teen novel.

14 comments:

  1. Oh for land sakes!! Sorry you encountered that. I mean, what are the chances, really?!

    So, my recs for YA books are Find You In THe Dark by A. Meredith Walters. It's SO good. The follow up Light in the Shadows was good too but not like the first. There is also a novella in there, too as part of the series.
    Also, check out the Elemental series by Brigid Kemmerer. I have heard amazing things about it.

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    1. I will look that one up! I have heard good things about the Elemental series but haven't read them yet. My YA reading list is a zillion miles long, but I always love recommendations! Bryce gave me the first in The Raven Boys series for my birthday, and it was AMAZING. I told him he has a great surprise gift idea until I have them all... :) All THe Bright Places by Jennifer Niven was just so good too, but sad. More of a high school book than middle school, so can't recommend it to students per se, but SO GOOD. Also Ember in the Ashes for fantasy and This Is Where It Ends for a unique multi-perspective look at school violence (among other violences). Thanks for weighing in! Elementals keep coming up, I'd better get on that. Looking up Find You In the Dark now... :)

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    2. Oh, I will have to check out Ravens Boys and Embers in the Ashes. If you read Find you in the Dark let me know what you think.
      Little bit of trivia...the author of Elemental was my highschool classmate. I remember when she started writing what eventually became Elemental. She has blown up, and now has several other book in the works and was able to quit her day job recently. My daughter read all of the Elementals and loves them. I haven't, but I should!!

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    3. That's so cool! Now I definitely have to check them out. :)

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  2. That's crazy!!! No escape, yeah?

    BTW, do you have any recommendations for books that I can read on my trip? I really liked the one that you mentioned about: Counting by 7s. I would like to get a couple of books that are like that.

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    1. No escape.

      Oh, Counting by 7s is so special! Hard to top that one. Although, I just read a non-YA book that held me in a similar way ... My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman. It's just so good, I cried several times, but was left feeling uplifted. And it wasn't cliched or neatly tied up. SO GOOD. Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk is also very good, historical low-YA fiction, beautiful but mostly sad. And All The Bright Places (YA) is mostly sad but man is it gorgeous. I also loved Tell The Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (also adult) is beautiful as well, and Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall is excellent but has infertility/loss subplot, but handled interestingly and didn't make me want to throw it. I hope you find at least one you like from this list! :)

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    2. Ahh thanks for the recommendations. Funny thing: my coworker gave me a bunch of books for my trip. What is on top of the pile? State of Wonder! Now I know the subplot, I am definitely going to proceed with caution! :D

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  3. I'm remembering when genetics was coming into pop culture and all the ways media was trying to incorporate it (Jurassic Park anyone?). I think the same thing is happening with infertility and adoption. Most don't have all the information (uterine issues,male factor, autoimmunity, PCOS, etc) so it's truly imaginary mixed with some truth. Which can be dangerous.

    Anyway, wow. Three is a row is a fluke. Would make me want to throw books too.

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    1. Argh. Yes, definitely interesting and dangerous when these things come up but they're not quite as researched as they should be. Drives me batty. I am totally a book-thrower when something makes me mad...but a gentle book-thrower 'cause I love them. :)

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  4. Such a weird coincidence that 3 of your books mentioned IF. Anytime I see an unexpected IF reference I'm switched into hyper-aware mode: what is this and did they get it right! It becomes very hard to focus on anything else. In the cases where they get it wrong my opinion of the writer's intelligence and work ethic drops several points, even if up to that point everything was great. On the other hand, could the (possible) increase in infertility mentions be a good sign that people are getting a better understanding of its significance (I loathe the term "awareness"). I guess it depends on the quality; infertility has always been used in plots. But if it's integrated as part of a character, that seems to me to be a good thing. Although it would make me sad to see infertility referred to everywhere. I don't think anything will make me happy lol. As for books, I'm only reading non fiction lately. Latest was on the philosophy of Jacques Ellul.

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    1. I agree...when it's handled poorly I am mad and wonder why people don't research better. I felt like there were a few books I've read recently where it was very sensitively handled, although I'd love a fictional book where the character doesn't get pregnant from IVF or have a very convenient dropped-in-the-lap adoption. THAT would be refreshing. I hear you about nothing making you happy -- so many things are like, "I like this but not this, and if you do it this way I wont' be QUITE as mad at you as if you do it THAT way..." Totally relate. I felt like some good books for how it feels to be infertile were Girl on The Train (seriously, I thought the emotional side, not the drinking side, was spot on and appropriately bitter), Forgetting Alice by Liane Moriarty (a major subplot and very well handled) and Fairest by Melissa Meyer in the Lunar CHronicles series -- surprisingly accurate for how it feels to be infertile. Even though the character is an evil Lunar queen, which sounds insane. I like nonfiction, but usually gravitate to memoirs if it's not teaching related. Good on you reading something heavy like that! :)

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  5. This is so timely. I am looking for some new book suggestions. I loved the Selection series by Keira Cass. A very easy and not complicated read. I am currently reading The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer definitely not in the YA category but it is hilarious and surprisingly insightful.

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    1. Oh, I LOVED Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo! Amy Schumer is my spirit animal. I love her so much, and I felt like I really knew her as a person, not a persona, after reading her book. I'm so glad you like it! I haven't read the Selection books but see them on display in our school library all the time. I have the Uglies/Pretties books at home but haven't read them yet, and I am looking forward to reading Six of Crows. All my birthday books had to do with crows, which was funny. All my Christmas books were red covers, at least partially. Bryce is a funny guy. :) I'm reading The GIrls by Emma Cline right now, and it is SUCH good writing, disturbing and atmospheric, more so because it's fiction but seems pretty based on the Manson girls.

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  6. HA! I wonder what the author of that second book would make of our situation. I hadn't watched the show Brothers and Sisters since it was on the first time, but I recently started watching it again. It has infertility, miscarriage, and adoption plots. I'm so obsessed with accuracy, though. In the first few seasons, a character has a miscarriage, and it is painfully realistic. I loved that. I was feeling like an alien and miscarriages on TV shows are never accurate. I found myself just nodding "yep" at the TV. But...then a few seasons later they got way over dramatic. Another character has a miscarriage and it's the most dramatic unrealistic scene you've ever seen. She takes an AMBULANCE. They want to "keep her in the hospital for a couple days for observation." That doesn't happen. Like, ever. If you're gonna go there, do it right.

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