Review: Child of Mine by Judy Mollen Walters

Posted April 24, 2013 by Karen in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Child of Mine coverTitle: Child of Mine
Author: Judy Mollen Walters
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Women’s Fiction
Grade/Rating: 4 out 5

I’m not one who shops based on book covers (it’s usually never paid off in the past) but I will admit that this particular photo did catch my eye and pulled me in enough to read the synopsis.  Now, there is where I found my true tether…even in the short blurb that accompanied it, a nerve of mine was struck and I felt compelled to read it. And my ever-true “gut” told me I’d like it…

In this story we meet Katie.  A bright woman living a good life with the love of a devoted, supportive husband and a promising career where she finds pure joy on a daily basis as a successful midwife.  Part of Katie’s character is that she is adopted and was blessed with a loving adoptive family, which she has never questioned.  Until now.  Although she has never openly sought the answers to her biological identity, she has always wondered about it and through this story those pesky little questions churn quietly in the background as she grows further into her adult life.  It’s that urge for a biological connection that fuels Katie’s desires to have a family of her own. However, the path she must take is not easy and it tests hers and her marriage’s limits.  As a midwife Katie finds that experiencing countless births is bittersweet as she struggles quietly with her own fertility speed bumps and she finds herself even facing pregnancies that are unwanted or disappointingly unplanned.  What started as a career full of joy and wonder begins to turn into a daily reminder of how “unfair” she feels her life has been.  As a reader and mother I felt sorry for her but knew that her vision of her life may not be what her life was meant to be.  My heart ached for her from time to time and I wanted to rush to the end to see if she was ever blessed with the joys of motherhood.

“Look, you know that you have your father’s eyes and your mother’s nose and that being athletic runs in your family. I don’t know why I have any of my traits.” Her voice broke now. “I don’t know where I got my curly hair from. Or why I could never do algebra. Even the bad stuff, like why I have a short temper. I can’t pinpoint any of it. But with this baby, maybe I’ll get to feel that connection.”

Infertility is a difficult diagnosis to face and then chase and undoubtedly the process is exhausting on all levels. While some couple have success immediately, others run in circles for years just out of reach of that beautiful finish line and that is what Katie and her husband, Brian, have been doing  for a while when this story begins.  Even though it’s a woman’s job to bring a life into this world, most often we forget that there are usually two people on this treacherous path.  Brian is a very supportive husband and will do anything to give his wife the happiness she deserves, however, I felt as if his presence in this story was not as heavy as I would like it to be.  He was there during some of the important parts but I also wished I could have heard more from him or even witnessed more of his personal struggles during this journey.   Perhaps the author will be inspired to write even a short novella from his point of view…*crosses my fingers*

Katie is also faced with the fact that her sister, Lila, has not had to deal with the same infertility fears and is a mother to a beautiful bundle; of which comes with its own daily struggles.  Lila comes with her own bucket of troubles and even though I, and Katie, did not agree with her position on things, I could see that even fictional relationships have dysfunctions and it helped the story appeal to me more. There is a caregiver factor at play between these two sisters that a reader can easily identify with even if they don’t have a sister of their own.  Lila has the biological connection that Katie seeks but its Katie’s big heart, love of her parents, and need to be that caregiver that keeps her thoughts and feelings bottled up until she is pushed to face what she has always secretly wanted to know.  It’s the dynamic between these sisters and the path they take that really catapults this story and I found myself wondering what was next for Katie.

“It might be selfish for me to look, you know? To re-open someone else’s wounds. But at the same time, it’s such a burning question to me.”

Ms. Walters takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery, self-acceptance, and shows that even though we may not want to “rock the boat” of life, it may help to end up overboard for a bit in order to make the ride the adventure it was meant to be.  She shows us the worlds of obstetrics and infertility while guiding us through the center of where they come together without throwing too many medical/technical terms at us but also not blowing over the tough realities many face.  I saw my own personal struggles with identity within Katie and it’s not often I find a character that can hit such a sensitive and hidden nerve for me. For being a debut novel, I found it well-structured with the fluidity of a seasoned author and I look forward to seeing what else Ms. Walters has in the oven.

About the Author: After many years working as an editor in non-fiction publishing, Judy became a Stay-at-Home Mother to her two girls, conceived via infertility treatment. She wrote Child of Mine as an homage to the struggle nearly 1 in 6 couples go through in order to have their families. She lives in New Jersey with her family, where she is at work on her next novel.

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