What could go wrong with an open adoption among a woman desperate for a baby, her less-enthusiastic husband, and the strange young woman who demands a very special price for relinquishing her child? In Brown’s second novel, just about everything.
Adrienne wants a baby more than anything. As she approaches middle age unable to have one of her own, she and husband Gabe are still licking their wounds following a terrible experience with another soon-to-be mother, Patty. Although Gabe is indifferent to the idea of fatherhood and happy with his life as a car salesman living about 40 minutes from San Francisco, Adrienne, a second-grade teacher, has become obsessed with motherhood. So when Leah, a beautiful, pregnant teen, gets in touch with them and asks for a ticket to California, Adrienne is more than happy to spring for it. When Leah arrives, both Gabe and Adrienne are stunned to see how much she resembles Adrienne. Soon, the newcomer—due to give birth in a couple of weeks—puts her cards on the table and demands that she be allowed to live with the new parents for a year after the child’s birth. Although initially resistant, they capitulate, and, from there, things go from simply strange to diabolical. While Brown (Don't Try to Find Me, 2014) has a winning writing style, she hasn’t managed to correct the one major flaw that marred her first novel: she fails to create sympathetic people. Not one of the characters—Adrienne, Gabe, Leah—has a single redeeming characteristic. They’re all presented as selfish, opportunistic, and interested only in themselves, placing the reader in the unenviable position of having no one to root for and, thus, no stake in the book’s eventual disastrous outcome.
Unlikable people doing bad things to one another.