A teenage mother disregards the ethics of adoption in Brown's (Doubles, 2010, etc.) challenging new novel.
When 19-year-old college student Maria becomes pregnant, the timing couldn't possibly be worse. Her mother, an English professor and Alexander Dumas scholar, is in the final stage of her battle with cancer, and Maria is neglecting school to serve as her caretaker. The baby's father, Jack, is more concerned with pilfering drugs and reciting Wu Tang Clan lyrics than with the idea of fatherhood. Maria's mother, close to death, finds herself suddenly pro-life, and Maria feels like she has no choice but to give the baby up for adoption, insisting that the records be closed. What her adoption caseworker doesn't know, however, is that the couple Maria chooses to parent her baby is not entirely unknown to her. While flipping through the book of prospective parents, Maria recognizes a couple who lives in Beaufort, North Carolina, where she and her mother visit every summer. After giving birth and spending a week nursing newborn Bonacieux, Maria changes her mind about the adoption, feeling "with absolute certainty that she should keep the child." But having already signed the 60 pages of release forms, she hands the baby over despite her misgivings—and then does everything she can to insert herself into the lives of adoptive parents Philip and Nina, even going so far as to become Bonny's babysitter. What follows is a tricky story about a birth mother who can't extricate herself from her child's life and the unraveling of the family she has chosen for her daughter. While the writing preceding the birth of Bonny is emotionally distant and often enamored with its cleverness, the rest of the novel is well worth the wait.
Brown crafts a complicated tale of moral ambiguity about a woman who couldn't say goodbye to her baby after the paperwork was signed.