The Mothers

Morrow. May 2021. 384p. ISBN 9780063042063. pap. $16.99. F
Australian journalist Gannon’s fourth novel (after Chasing Chris Campbell) is inspired by a real-life mix-up at an IVF lab. In this family drama, Dan and Grace Arden are a white couple in their 40s who are trying for a baby. They’ve gone through six rounds of IVF and are on their last chance. Priya and Nick Archer are also trying to conceive, and having marriage problems. They separate, and Priya decides to keep trying alone, using donor sperm from an Indian man so her baby will look more like her. Priya and Grace undergo their last IVF procedures on the same day. Grace becomes pregnant; Priya doesn’t. But when the baby is born, it’s clear that something went wrong. A legal battle ensues, over the question of who a mother is—the biological mother, or the one who carried and gave birth to the baby.
VERDICT Heartstrings are pulled to the breaking point in this story of desperate desire for a child. With two couples and a terrible choice to make, there are plenty of ethical and emotional issues involved. This novel will appeal to readers interested in the topics of IVF or childbearing, though it may prove emotionally taxing for those readers as well.
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