Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Book Review: The Baby Planner

By Melissa Amster

I really enjoyed Josie Brown's last book, "Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives" (reviewed here), so I was excited to dig right in when I received "The Baby Planner" in the mail. It was well worth the wait!

After Katie Johnson loses her job working for SafeCalifornia, she stumbles upon her own company when her sister refers her to someone as a "Baby Planner." Soon she's up to her ears with expectant mothers making various demands and having to deal with all their drama. This doesn't help her personal life, as she wants to have a baby, but her husband refuses to even try. (He even requests double protection!) To complicate matters even more, she takes on a single father through her business to help him get his life on track. Meanwhile, her life is unraveling around her and she begins to figure out what family and love really mean to her.

I have a thing for books featuring female entrepreneurs with their own companies. I love when women get creative and earn lots of respect from peers and strangers as a result. This novel was no exception to the rule, as Katie's business was interesting on a personal level, as well as provided great entertainment value. I love what she did with her business and how she developed it and watched it flourish. Even though she was being restricted from conceiving, her job was her figurative "baby."

The other things I loved about "The Baby Planner" were the how realistic the characters seemed, the humor value and the way Ms. Brown was able to get the reader to connect to and sympathize with Katie. Ms. Brown never uses exaggeration to get her point across. Her characters thrive on their own and take on various personalities, based on their role in the story. They always give off a familiar feel that makes me think they're standing right in front of me. The humor is pretty obvious and altogether enjoyable. It doesn't feel forced at all. There's a certain sarcasm to it, as well. (Plus, I love that she referenced a Jen Lancaster book. You'll know it when you see it.) Finally, Katie is down to earth, but also going through the longing for children that many women can relate to. And even if they can't, she's still someone you want to hug, laugh with and cry with, all at the same time. I love how she keeps herself together when she has to, but also shows her vulnerable side.

However, I do have to point out a criticism I have with this book. Just like Katie, I don't want to deceive the reader when it comes to important matters. When I was still pregnant, Ms. Brown told me that this book would be perfect for me to read as a "new" mom. (I'm on my third child now, but it still feels like I'm starting all over again.) I didn't get a chance to read it until a couple of months after my baby was born. I'm glad this was the case though. I could not read it as an expectant mother, as there were some sad and dark parts involving both childbirth and death of infants due to poorly made baby gear. My heart went out to the people it affected in this story, but I would have been a basket case reading it if this was prior to my baby being delivered safely into the world. (And even within the month following her birth, I still cried at the thought of anything bad happening to babies.) I wouldn't say I'm desensitized now, but it's easier for me to say "it's only a book" three months down the line than it would have pre- or post-birth. I want to put this out as a warning to expectant or new mothers that there are some parts that are hard to read on an emotional level. Ms. Brown does handle those parts tactfully without being dismissive, but I do want people to know that they are there and that if they have any concerns about how emotional they get during birth, they should give it a few months, as it is a great story overall. There are some people I'm hesitant to recommend it to for this reason, as well as a few other reasons that I don't want to reveal for fear of spoiling the story. I suggest you read at your own risk.

Having said that, I really did enjoy this novel and had a hard time putting it down. If I weren't super busy this past week, I would have read it in a couple of days. There was a lot of suspense and intrigue. One part of the story was predictable, but only if you've read any of Ms. Brown's previous stories and know her style. Even so, the way my suspicion was confirmed was not in the way I expected and she still managed to surprise me. She also threw a few other surprises in there to keep me on my toes. This story is really Ms. Brown's "baby," as she put a lot of love into it to share with her readers. I hope you will feel it as much as I did and will even get teary-eyed the way I did. (The same way I get teary eyed when a friend shares baby news with me or when someone gives birth on "A Baby Story." Both are good things.)

Thanks to Josie Brown for the book in exchange for an honest review.

1 comment:

Jencey said...

This book looks interesting. :)
jenceyg@msn.com