#BookReview: Our Stolen Child by Melissa Wiesner

Heartfelt And Intriguing Tale That You Still Want To Throw Out The Nearest Window. This is truly a heartfelt and intriguing tale that explores the ethics, legalities, and emotions of both sides of an issue that is close enough to being all-too-real as to be scary. In this era of IVF, frozen eggs/ embryos, surrogate parents, and similar and related concepts, the central premise here of a lab screw up resulting in one couples’ embryo being implanted into nd successfully borne by a complete stranger… is truly scarily plausible, at minimum. Wiesner does a truly phenomenal job throughout this tale of showing the very real questions and emotions of such an issue from nearly every (female) angle – emotional, legal, ethical, relational, etc. The male characters… are a bit more one dimensional and lacking. They work well enough for the purposes of this story, but they’re never given the thought or care that the female characters are.

And yet, that isn’t what actually makes you want to throw this book out the nearest window. *That* comes from just how desperate both of these women are to have kids, that they’ll put themselves and everyone around them through such trauma and drama. I understand the perils of the childless, to a point. But as someone who is happily child *free* (yes, there is a difference – the “less” are those such as the women here that can never let go of the desire to have children, the “free” are those who have chosen to not have kids or who have embraced and celebrate that they will never have kids)… I admit that I’ll never understand the childless crowd. There is so *much* to be said about being childfree and how satisfying and fulfilling the childfree life can be, and Wiesner’s tale here shows just how fraught and horrifying the childless life can be.

But that last paragraph was a bit of a digression. Seriously, Wiesner does a phenomenal job here with the tale she has chosen to tell, to the level that it is abundantly clear that she herself is somewhere in the less/ free space or is *close* to someone who is. Very much recommended.

This review of Our Stolen Child by Melissa Wiesner was originally written on September 9, 2022.

#BookReview: The Boy Toy by Nicola Marsh

Excellent Case Study In Storytelling. Over the last month, I’ve read all three of the books Marsh is releasing (from three different publishers) over the course of six weeks from early October 2020 through mid November 2020 (when this, the last of the books in this “series”, releases). And each has been dramatically different from the last, which speaks to Marsh’s true skill as a storyteller. Second Chance Lane, the first of the series, was a Hallmarkie romance. My Sister’s Keeper, the second, was a weaving, winding, soap opera of a tale that my wife says would work well as a Lifetime Movie.

And here, with The Boy Toy, we get arguably the most cinematic of the three books, in the vein of a multicultural Knocked Up / Hundred Foot Journey. We get an older lead female. We get a look at various facets of Indian culture (that as my friend Ritu says in her own review, many of Western cultures won’t be as familiar with – more on that momentarily). We get a more-balanced-than-usual look at the struggles of infertility as it relates to those who actually want children. (Vs childfree people like me that *don’t* want children and thus infertility is actually a blessing of sorts.) We get an age-gap *ish* romance with the *female* being the older person in the couple.

And yes, we get sex. A lot of it. And all over the place, beginning as little as 10% into the book. If you’re looking for a “clean” / “sweet” romance… you’re not gonna want this one. 😉 Similarly, getting back to the cultural issues… Marsh does a good job of not hiding at least one Indian equivalent of what I call “Talibaptists” in the US. She does a great job of showing the pressure they can wield socially and the damage it can wreak, and she doesn’t shy away from this aspect at all – instead giving a solid example of how to overcome it. Every culture has these types, sadly, but Marsh shows them in depths not often explored, particularly in a romantic comedy, and again – shows her strength as a storyteller in doing so.

Ultimately though, this is a fun and funny romantic comedy that hits all the right notes, discusses some heavy topics, but leaves you satisfied in every way text on some surface can. Very much recommended.

This review of The Boy Toy by Nicola Marsh was originally written on October 23, 2020.