|Well, I was anyway.|
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.