Monday, March 28, 2016

Deja Vu Review: Dear Thing...plus a book giveaway

Dear Thing by Julie Cohen publishes in the US tomorrow. To celebrate, we are sharing Becky's review from 2013 and St. Martin's Press has THREE copies for some lucky US readers.


By Becky Gulc

I’m lucky enough to be sent plenty of books for review, but I particularly love it when a book arrives in the post captures your interest from the moment you open the parcel, be this down to the cover and title alone, the blurb, press release or a combination of all three. Dear Thing by Julie Cohen was one of these books, despite my review copy not even having the finished cover (which would have hooked me in even more now I’ve seen it!), I was sold on the idea of the story from the very beginning, but what is it about?

Claire and Ben are the perfect couple. But behind the glossy fa├žade, they’ve been desperately trying – and failing – to have a baby for years. Now, the stress and feelings of loss are taking their toll on their marriage. Claire’s ready to give up hope and get on with her life, but Ben is not. And then Ben’s best friend, Romily, offers to conceive via artificial insemination and carry the baby for them.

Romily acts in good faith, believing it will be easy to be a surrogate. She’s already a single mother, and has no desire for any more children. Except that being pregnant with Ben’s child stirs up all sorts of emotions in her, including one she’s kept hidden for a very long time: Ben’s the only man she’s ever loved.

Two mothers—and one baby who belongs to both of them, and which only one of them can keep. (Synopsis courtesy of Julie Cohen's website.)

I thought that I may be in for an emotional, and quite frankly heart-wrenching ride with this story and that was part of its appeal, as I love reading a good tear-jerker every now and then. I also don’t remember reading a book that covered surrogacy before, so I welcomed the idea of reading something a bit different and delving into a world I knew little about.

Overall I thought this was a great book, and once I picked it up I found I couldn’t put it down; isn’t that a huge sign of enjoyment? As readers we are presented with the perspectives of both Claire and Romily throughout the book and this was really important in terms of developing empathy with each of these characters, that empathy is formed very quickly. Julie managed to create leading characters where I felt equally for both in the situation they find themselves in; I didn’t find myself feeling that the baby should end up with one of them over the other as there was merit in every scenario. I think this helps sustain the reader’s interest, I really didn’t know what the final outcome would be, or what I wanted it to be, but I wanted to find out!

I didn’t find the book to be heart-wrenching like I thought it would be, to an extent I was disappointed with this at the time. I expected to cry, after all; one of these characters I grew to really like was going to end up without the baby they already loved. I'm approaching this as a non-parent, though I recognise people are going to have different levels of emotional attachment with the story. Saying that though with consideration, I think the way the final chapters were written fitted well with the character development throughout the book and the events that take place. I would maybe just have liked a little more insight into the feelings of both Claire and Romily after the decision is made about where the baby will live. As a reader I’m left wondering how the one without the baby is doing right now! But, saying that, I completely understand why as readers we don’t see this. Nevertheless, I’d love to see the characters pop up in Julie’s future books to get this insight.

Julie’s characters are perfect for a book covering the different emotions for different parties involved in surrogacy, the fact that Romily isn’t necessarily the kind of character I would imagine to be a typical surrogate (if such a thing exists), and perhaps appears to go into the process without fully considering how difficult it could be makes the story all the more intriguing. The letters she writes to the baby (hence ‘Dear Thing’) add depth to the novel as it helps the reader find out more about how Romily is feeling, when she writes the letters she opens herself up emotionally to the reality of the situation much more than we witness in the general narrative, these were a really nice feature of the book.

Not only were Claire and Romily great characters (and very different people) and written so well, the supporting characters really helped to make this book. Posie (Romily’s daughter) was a fantastic character and she felt so real and it took me back to being her age and the sometimes tricky relationship with parents; Ben (Claire’s husband) was also great and although we weren’t presented with his viewpoint he still came across as a fully formed character where as readers you really feel for him.

Overall I’d definitely recommend this book as a great read! I’ve seen other reviews which state this story will stay with people and I wholeheartedly agree. This is the first book I’ve read by Julie and now I look forward to reading more.

Thanks to Transworld for the book in exchange for an honest review and to St. Martin's Press for sharing the book with our readers.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here.

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US only. Giveaway ends April 3rd at midnight EST.

24 comments:

Kristi said...

The best thing about winter for me is when the weather outside lets me want to stay in and read and do crafts guilt free. Especially if we get a whole snow day off from work or if it storms on the weekend!

Janine said...

What I love most about winter is wearing soft fuzzy sweaters and my cats cuddle tighter.

TinaB said...

Snow!

susanroberts said...

Winter is my least favorite season and I really don't like much about it at all.

Linda Kish said...

Winter is our rainy season and I look forward to having rain for several periods during that time. Too bad we don't get more. It's just about all we get for the year.

traveler said...

I don't care for winter at all. Too cold, damp, dreary and dull.

ptclayton said...

I am not a liker of winter due to a nerve disease that i have the pain increases and it is just not good. Winter though is a time when my husband is laid of for 3 months and it is rainy and also snowing. Although this year it didn't snow too much but enough that he had to blade the driveway which is steep so that people can come up and down it. Winter is a time when the rabbits and deer all disappear and have their babies and then make their grand appearance in the spring. Winter is when I get some reading done but like to read when the weather is better and when the pups and I can relax with less pain.

Melanie Backus said...

I love wearing coats and scarves and making soups and chili.

Laurice McClung said...

My favorite thing is to make a big pot of homemade stew on the first really cold day.I look forward to that all summer long!

Susan Dyer said...

There is nothing I like about winter. That is why I live in Arizona--you can't shovel sunshine!!

rhonda said...

Fire in our fireplace,

susieqlaw said...

I love to snuggle under my covers and to read books.

Terri. said...

I love the holidays!

Rita said...

The best thing about winter is the end of it. I don't like the cold weather it hurts my joints and my arthritis gets real bad.

Anonymous said...

The best thing about Winter is sitting in front of a nice warm fire, watching the snow come down & reading a good book. Linda May

Jennifer said...

Sweaters! And that's it

Tatum Rangel said...

I'm not a fan of winter; however, I love that I can wear beanies. They're my favorite.

Bethany Clark said...

My fav. thing is cuddling up inside with a good book more often!

Holly said...

That brief time when the snow is fluffy and white.

Carol Doscher said...

The best thing about Winter is Christmas is in Winter. I don't like the cold or the snow.

Susan @ The Book Bag said...

I love making a big pot of chili and sitting under a blanket reading a great book.

L Bryant said...

The best thing about winter is being able to dress in layers.

Anonymous said...

The best thing about winter is snuggling under a quilt with a hot cup of coffee and a good book! :)

Hailey Fish said...

The best thing about winter? Christmas, my birthday and being able to snuggle under lots of blankets with a nice cuppa tea and a really good book. It is April 3, almost April 4 and it was absolutely freezing outside....38 degrees even though it's supposedly "springtime" out there! I definitely look forward to May, June & July!