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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Between Friends

by Kristy Kiernan
336 pages

*** About the Book ***

Fifteen years ago Ali and Benny were struggling to have a baby together. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) was a new thing at the time and the couple decided to give it a shot. When Ali’s best friend Cora volunteered to donate her own eggs to the process, Ali was thrilled. Eventually Ali have birth to a beautiful daughter, Letty. Benny and Ali have raised Letty to understand the entire process that led to her birth, and to have a close relationship with “Aunt Cora” whenever she is in town.

Now Letty is a teenager and things are changing. She is sneaking out, seeing a boyfriend her parents don’t know about, and generally heading down the wrong path. And Cora is back in town for an unexplained visit, hiding a huge secret from Ali and her family. What does all this have to do with IVF? You’ll just have to read the book to find out!

*** Why I Read It ***

Kristy Kiernan wrote a book called MATTERS OF FAITH that I read a while back. She did an excellent job portraying the realities of living with a child who has severe food allergies. [In case you are new here, Kiddo has enormous food allergy issues.] When we exchanged emails after her interview on my blog, she mentioned that her next book dealt with fertility issues. I immediately asked to review it when it came out because this is yet another subject that I have firsthand experience with. If you want to read about my personal fertility issues, I’ve included it bit at the bottom of this post (but feel free to skip that part if you don’t want to know that much about me!).

*** My Thoughts ***

I don’t often read books like this - contemporary fiction, women’s literature, or whatever you want to call it – but every once in a while something catches my attention. With this book it was the subject matter and the fact that it came from an author I trust. And she didn’t let me down.

The story is told in alternating points of view by Ali, Cora, and Letty. I enjoyed getting to know each of these women and learning about the important people in their lives. From time to time one of them would say or do something and I would think, “Aha! I know EXACTLY what that feels like.”* There was even a point toward the end of the book that made me cry – and that never happens. [For those who’ve read it, it was the letter right near the end.]

I was quite surprised to realize that this book deals with a lot more than fertility issues; that, in fact, IVF is almost the background for a larger story. I can’t tell you one of the topics that it goes into or I’d spoil the story for you, but it does deal with teen sexuality and family dynamics as well as friendship and of course fertility.

On the whole I really enjoyed this book. The ending might have been a bit to “neat” for me but that is the biggest complaint I can come up with. It was a quick and easy read and it definitely gave me some things to think about.

* After I wrote this I looked by at my review of MATTERS OF FAITH and realized that I used almost the same words in that review.  It just goes to prove that Kristy is consistently good at conveying a reality that I can identify with!

*** Your Thoughts ***

Do you read books about issues you’re dealing with in your own life? If so, do you go with fiction or non-fiction? Do you find that it helps? In what way?

*** My IVF Experience ***

In case you are wondering, here’s what my husband and I have gone through in the fertility arena.
  • It took over a year to get pregnant with Kiddo, which we eventually did without “assistance”.
  • Two years after he was born, I still hadn’t been able to get pregnant again.
  • We tried fertility medication … 8 times. This stuff made my psycho. Literally.
  • We tried artificial insemination … 3 times. This required a few shots and a few minor medical procedures.
  • We tried IVF … 2 times. This required an enormous amount of shots and several surgeries. Plus I had repeated allergic reactions to one of the injectable medications.
  • The 2nd IVF resulted in a miscarriage extremely early on, before I knew for sure I was pregnant. That was about four years ago or so.
  • At this point we have no more insurance coverage for fertility treatments, and no confidence that it would work anyway.
  • We also have 2 frozen embryos that we are continuing to pay to keep in storage. We can’t decide what to do with them – look for a surrogate to carry them (if they are even viable) or try to implant them in me (without much hope of success).
All that said, I am not bitter about it. I had been, in the past, but I’m not now. It took years, but I’m finally able to be happy for friends who are pregnant and to attend their baby showers. I can’t say that I love being around babies most of the time, but it doesn’t make me extremely uncomfortable like it used to.  Plus I've got the best Kiddo in the world already. :)

And that’s my story, for those of you who wanted to know ...


Elisabeth said...

Heather, thank you for your honesty & transparency about your situation. I'm not always a fan of chick-lit either, but it has its place. This one sounds like one I'd like - sorta in the realm of Jodi Picoult... Thanks for the review!

Anonymous said...

Heather, I enjoyed your thoughts on the book and also your personal journey. I loved the book and look forward to reading Kristi's other books. I, too, had issues with fertility. I did not seek out further medical treatment, but came to understand that I was meant to have one child. It was the right thing for me. However, I know that many other women have a hard time with this issue. Again, thanks for sharing! Hugs to you!

Florinda said...

Terrific review. I have this in my TBR stacks and hope to get to it soon, since I just read another novel where surrogacy was a theme and I'd like to see another approach.

Thanks for sharing your own connection with the story, Heather. I haven't experienced what you did - I've devoted much more effort to NOT getting pregnant - but I can imagine that this novel would strike a chord with you.

Anonymous said...

Your review makes me want to run out and read this ASAP!

Thanks for sharing your story too. My aunt and uncle tried unsuccessfully to have a baby for at least a decade before they were finally successful, through IVF, in carrying my now 13 year-old cousin to term. Its such a tough struggle, but I know they are beyond thankful and fullfilled in having their son, just as it seems you are with Kiddo.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Elisabeth - I've heard Kristy compared to Jodi before, and based on her choice of topics I'd have to agree. However I've never felt the same connection to Jodi's characters and stories as I have to Kristy's - the latter just seem more real to me.

Kay - Thanks for chiming in with your experiences. Most days I feel like we WERE just meant to have only one child, and I'm ok with that. But then there are other days ... :)

Florinda - This is less about surrogacy than about egg donation, and that is really only the background to the rest of the story. Not that it matters, but I didn't want you to go into it and not know what to expect. :) And yes, I have laughed over your posts where you mention how you've avoided pregnancy like the plague. LOL

longbrakeliving - Thanks for your comments ... it's always surprising to me how many people have had a similar experience or know someone who has.

Dreamybee said...

This sounds like it was really well-done and would be interesting. I was thinking that this would make for a great book club discussion-lots of things to think about and consider-but then I was thinking that it might be too delicate of an issue for a book club. I guess a lot would depend on the book club itself...?

Jenny said...

I reviewed this book recently too and loved it! Matters of Faith was the first of hers I read and that's what made me like her so much, and I, too, was interested in the fertility aspect of this novel. Thanks for sharing your personal story! People don't realize the effect fertility issues can have on a person and a couple. My DH and I are going on 4 years trying. =( We just recently started some fertility drugs though so hopefully that's as far as we go; it's been such a rough road already!

But back to the book, I agree, it was very good!

Beth F said...

The sotry in the book is interesting -- it brings up a ton of important and thought-provoking topics. Thanks too for sharing your own story.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Dreamybee - Yes, it "could" be great for a book club but it would have to be the "right" kind of book club.

Jenny - You're right, unless a couple has been down this road they simply cannot understand what it is like. I wish you much success with your new plan - and please know that I'm willing to talk about my experiences if you ever need someone to vent to. :)

Beth F - Like I said to Dreamybee's comment, there really ARE some great discussable topics in this book - you just need the right people to discuss them with. :)

Tales of Whimsy said...

Jenny and Heather: AMEN! Unless you've been through it - you just don't know. Mr. Whimsy and I have been trying for 3 years. Thank you for sharing your story Heather. Mr. Whimsy and I have decided against assistance (we're giving our wishes to God and letting it go) but it's always interesting to hear other peoples journeys. *group hug*

Jenny said...

Thanks Heather and Juju! Heather, I might end up having to do that. ;)

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Juju - I'm always glad to hear that my experiences are helpful to others, even if it's just in a "I know what you're feeling!" kind of way. :)

Jenny - Please do! I'd be happy to talk to you any time. My email is available through my profile so drop me a line whenever you like.

Booksnyc said...

This is the second review I have seen for this book that has been positive and also positively referenced the authors previous books - I really need to read something by her!

thanks for sharing your personal story.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

booksync - Definitely give Kristy's books a shot! I need to go back and read her first book now.

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