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Jolina Petersheim has written a very involved story that moves backward and forward in time, and is alternately told through the voices of Rhoda, Beth and Amelia. In some books this can be difficult to sort out--but I found that to be no problem here--it was very clear who was speaking and at which time period.
Beth (in 1996) is a graduate student, studying bioethics, who decides for personal reasons to become a surrogate mother for her professor and his wife. Early pregnancy tests suggest that the child she is carrying might have serious abnormalities. Based only on this early possibility the parents ask Beth to terminate the pregnancy as they do not want to take this risk. Beth, however, cannot imagine doing that, and so flees to Hopen Haus, a Mennonite home for unwed mothers.
The remainder of the book concerns the subsequent unfolding of events--both tragic and redeeming (through the past and present points of view). Beth finds great comfort living with the Mennonites, and decides to become one of them--as well as becoming a midwife who now works in Hopen Haus. She changes her name to Rhoda (who tells her story in present day time). Because she has a great secret to hide, this provides a good protection for her. Amelia's arrival begins to focus the story in new directions--as Rhoda and others in the community must face a crisis that will effect many. The story moves faster and faster as the climax approaches, and there are a number of twists that makes it all interesting.
The ending seemed a little too forced, but it basically was a good read (listen). The narration was effective as well. The story had some religious overtones, but that was clear going into the book and worked with the story. I liked it--but think it might appeal to kind of a narrow audience.
6 of 9 people found this review helpful
I'm not sure why I kept listening. Maybe because it is like a train wreck. The baby is not hers. She is not her daughter. She was not stolen from her. In fact, she stole that baby. I carried a surrogate baby. that baby was not mine and I had to no emotional attachment to the baby, just to the family. this story is exactly why no surrogate who has not already raised a baby should get through the psychological screening. Her attachment to that baby, while I know the story is not real, should not be unexpected from someone who gave a baby up for adoption against their wishes. this is a terrible situation that would not happen in real life. It made me extremely angry that this is represented as a normal surrogacy situation.