Audrey’s grateful for the life her teen birth mother gave her with a loving adoptive mother; 17 years later, Audrey, confused and fearful of making the wrong choice, must deal with her own unplanned pregnancy.
Brown-skinned, mixed-race Audrey’s white birth mother, Amanda, chose Laura as her parent in a closed adoption. Laura’s partner, Adam (both are white), now lives with Laura and Audrey. Dreaming of a career in photography, Audrey knows she’s not working at her full potential. She has a loving, stable home; great friends diverse in both race and sexuality; and a wonderful musician boyfriend, Julian. Julian’s white, Jewish family is as fond of Audrey as hers is of Julian. Audrey’s pregnancy is a shock; they’d used birth control. They’re in love, determined to make the right choice, whatever that is. Their families accept their choice and will support it, once made. Audrey trusts Julian will be there for her; but a baby would reshape their lives, futures they’re still planning. Abortion is scary; adoption is hard. Audrey’s kept Amanda’s letter that expresses the hope that Laura can give Audrey the life Amanda cannot. When a new letter arrives from Amanda, Audrey doesn’t read it. Barrow’s precise, third-person, past-tense narration captures Audrey’s turmoil as time begins to run out; she’s immobilized by indecision and anxiety, at odds with friends, family, even Julian. She steadily resists cliché and tired tropes all the way to the novel’s deeply felt, unflinching conclusion.
This compelling, closely observed debut charts its appealing characters’ difficult journey with clarity and honesty. (Fiction. 14-18)