Chosen by Chandra Hoffman
Published by: HarperCollins
Published on: August 2010
Page Count: 306
My Reading Format: ARC copy supplied by Kelley and Hall Publicity
Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, and audiobook
A Note Before My Review: Please note that my discussions of adoption in this review reflect my thoughts on situations when birth parents initiate and follow through on an adoption of their own free will. I understand and recognize that this was not and is not always the case. For those women and men who were forced into adoption, I am truly sorry. That should never happen to any parent or to any child.
I wanted to love this book. As an adoptive mother to a beautiful 8 year old daughter, I was very curious to see what Chandra Hoffman, once a social worker working in adoption, had to say. In no way was I expecting a fairy tale about adoption. I know all to well how controversial adoption can be. I was someone active in the adoption blogging world after Emma was born. There are people whose lives are made whole through adoption. There are others whose worlds are torn apart. I always recognized that my joy came at a large price for a beautiful young woman and her family. Unfortunately, my deep desire to enjoy this book was not enough.
Chosen tells the story of an adoption through the eyes of Chloe Pinter, the adoption case worker who was responsible for both the birth parents and the potential adoptive family. Her long hours of emotionally draining work and low pay created tension between her and her live-in boyfriend. It became increasingly difficult for her to balance her life with her job just as a disastrous adoption was ready to take place.
I could not stomach the main sets of adoptive and birth parents in Chosen. They felt more like characters put in place of stereotypical ideas/nightmares about each type of parent. There is much more to adoptive parents, especially mothers, than desperation over parenthood. Likewise, birth parents are in a difficult situation, that doesn’t make them opportunists. I can only speak from my own experience, but adoption is not a made-for-TV-movie event. The desperate bitch adoptive mother and the morally bankrupt opportunistic birth parents are as cliched as the woman giving birth on a stuck elevator or in a cab on the way to the hospital.
On top of my issues with the characters, the ending did not in any work for me. I don’t want to provide any spoilers in this review, but suffice to say this was probably the worst ending for me than any other book this year. I hate to sound harsh, but there was just no way I could buy into it.
I did find this novel a great way to initiate conversation about the language of adoption. Until you become intimate with it, you think nothing of saying that children were “given up” for adoption or identifying the biological parents of an adopted child his/her “real parents.” They imply that birth parents give no thought to their decisions and that adoptive relationships aren’t real. Nothing can be further from the truth.
I wish I could recommend Chosen despite my reservations. I cannot. I don’t believe a book has to be accurate or politically correct to be good (God knows there is nothing I hate more than reading an uptight politically correct book). In that case, the book needs to be believable on its own level. Failing that, it must be entertaining. This book just didn’t cut it for me.
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