The Electronic Adventures of the Chestnut Man
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Unabashedly emotional, at times cloyingly cute memoir of how Chinese-American actor Wong and his partner became parents.

Composed mostly of e-mail the author sent and received, the narrative also includes baby Jackson’s imagined recollections (more mawkish than moving) of his birth and early days. Beginning with the premature arrival of Jackson and his short-lived twin, Boaz, Wong describes the first anxious hours and the roller-coaster days that followed as Boaz died and Jackson struggled to survive. In addition to a nail-biting account of the ordeal that ended when he was finally able to take Jackson home, the author also provides a tribute to his Chinese-American family in San Francisco and an account of an increasingly common but still controversial form of parenthood. In the late 1990s, Wong and long-time partner Richie, deciding that they wanted a child who would share their Chinese and Jewish heritages, began researching the options. Through a California agency they found a surrogate mother, Shauna, who already had two children. Richie’s sister, also already a mother, was prepared to donate eggs, while Wong would provide the sperm for in-vitro fertilization. The embryos were successfully implanted, but Shauna went into early labor, and the babies were born in May instead of August. Boaz, fatally anemic, died within hours. Jackson survived, but his lungs were immature and his colon blocked; he had to be flown by chartered plane to another hospital for more specialized care. As Wong relates his emotions, his worries, and the struggles to fulfill his professional obligations on both coasts, he also lovingly details his family’s support. The e-mails from sympathizers, friends, family, and colleagues, however personally affecting and helpful they were, pad the text rather than inform it.

Despite the often grim developments, energetic and upbeat reportage from the parental frontlines.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-06-052953-9
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: HarperEntertainment
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2003