Author: Chandra Hoffman
Release Date: August 24, 2010
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Chloe Pinter is a social worker with a job at a private adoption agency. She liaisons between birth mothers and adoptive parents, trying to match babies with often desperate couples who haven’t been able to conceive. The story shows both sides, those of the birth parents and adoptive ones, spinning out to an explosive conclusion.
I don’t know much about the adoption process, so I thought Chosen might be a very interesting read. After all, the author, Chandra Hoffman, has worked in the adoption field and understands the process. Chosen is definitely illuminating, but its flaws prevent it from being great.
The information about adoption presented in Chosen is really interesting. The dynamics between the social worker and sets of parents, the vast differences in both adoptive and birth parents - it makes a very interesting study. Just as there are the extremes of birth parents - the sweet woman who just wants her child to have a better life, versus the parents who think they can sell their baby for bags full of cash - there are extremes in the adoptive parents too.
The main focus in adoptive parents, Francie, is difficult to sympathize with. On one hand, she is desperate for a child, and the reader can’t help but feel bad for her. But on the other hand, she is manipulative and difficult, only looking out for herself. Her obsession with the internet and the adoption forums will be amusing to anyone who spends a lot of time online, especially bloggers. When you compare Francie with the other parents in the book, it’s clear how wide the spectrum in adoptive parents is.
Chloe was the most sympathetic character in the book. She works at all hours of the day an night for just $11 per hour. She is expected to be on call all the time for any birth parent or adoptive parent. Many of the birth moms don’t have anyone else, so they lean on Chloe harder than they should. It is also her responsibility to manage expectations on both sides - while birth parents will pay for some expenses, they will not pay for a baby. On the other side, she has to tell excited parents that the baby they were expecting might no longer be theirs, as the birth parents are talking about keeping it. It’s a difficult job on all sides, and I didn’t envy her.
My problem with this book was with the main set of birth parents. The book spirals out of control as it progresses, and the reader can see what’s going to happen. Telling the story partially from their point of view was an effort to make the reader see things from both points of view and sympathize with both sides, but it failed in this case. The birth parents were so unlikeable that it was impossible to feel for them in this situation. They destroy themselves and anything they touch, so it’s easy to feel that a baby is better almost anywhere else than with them. As a result, reading things from their point of view was alternately boring and enraging; this part of the novel just didn’t capture me like it was supposed to.
Chosen is an interesting novel with a solid premise, and despite my reservations, I still recommend it. It’s got a lot of interesting information about the adoption process, and Chloe is a wonderful character to get to know. The birth parents are definitely difficult and Francie definitely isn’t the most sympathetic character, but overall it’s easy to read and engaging. If you’re interested in this premise, you should pick this one up; perhaps knowing what to expect might make this book work better!