A Brooklyn woman flips out when she discovers she’s pregnant with her third child in this first novel by Bomer, whose previous short story collection (Baby and Other Stories, 2010) took a steely-eyed, unromantic view of motherhood.
As the novel opens, Sonia is about to give birth to her third baby, alone in a hospital in Philadelphia. Flash back eight months. Sonia is a bourgeois yet hip (if that’s not an oxymoron?) wife and mother who has put aside her ambitions as a painter for the time being in order to care for 4-year-old Tom and 2-year-old Michael. She doesn’t have to work because husband Dick, a hazily drawn nice guy, earns a good living doing some kind of worthwhile research. Now that the boys are old enough for pre-school, Sonia is thinking about starting to paint again. And, no longer overwhelmed by the exhaustion of caring for small babies, she and Dick have rekindled their sexual relationship. The ironic result is Sonia’s unexpected, unwanted pregnancy. Sonia has never been exactly in love with being a mommy, but she doesn’t want the responsibility of choosing to terminate. Pregnancy only exaggerates a propensity toward self-absorption as she and Dick dither away the first trimester arguing but not deciding whether to abort. Meanwhile, Sonia ’s ambivalence toward Brooklyn itself increases. She has diminishing patience with parenting peer pressure—the emphasis on nutrition, on finding the perfect school, on making sure one’s child is properly diagnosed for trendy learning and social disorders. But, a Brooklyn cultural snob, she suffers a panic attack while house hunting in the suburbs. Finally, toward the end of her second trimester, Sonia snaps. Leaving the boys with long-suffering Dick, she heads off in her car. For the talky last trimester of the novel she revisits not only the people and places of her past, but also her pre-marriage persona to ready herself for permanent adulthood.
Sonia is hard to care about, so her arguments pro and con baby–raising carry less weight than they should.