Chosen, by Chandra Hoffman – Book Review

Chosen, by Chandra Hoffman

Chandra Hoffman’s Chosen arrived as an unsolicited review copy a few weeks ago from Harper Collins, and I wasn’t sure when I would get to it.  Any book that promises to examine the adoption issue from all angles is definitely high on my list of books to be read, but it was this review of Chosen by novelist Laurie Tharps, author of Kinky Gazpacho and the newly released Substitute Me, which intrigued me enough to pick up my copy and start reading.

Chosen chronicles the lives of three couples.   John and Francie are an older wealthy couple, Francie desperate to adopt a child after several failed in vitro fertilization procedures; Paul and Eva, are college sweethearts who turn to adoption when faced with their own fertility problems, eventually going on conceive a child of their own; and Jason and Penny, a down and out couple whose baby will change the lives of one expectant couple, while wreaking havoc on their own.  Connecting the trio of couples is Chloe Pinter, the idealistic social worker whose own troubled family history leads her to make a career out of creating the perfect family.

I haven’t had much experience with adoption, and don’t know any of the intricacies of the process other than from the perspective of some friends of mine who are in the process of adopting from another country.  I have heard the horror stories about black market adoptions, and how hard it is to adopt in this country – especially when seeking to adopt a healthy white baby, so this novel was definitely an eye opener of insight into the workings of private adoptions, and the lives of the different participants. Chosen is a compelling read, and even though my feelings for the characters and the actions undertaken by them still require some sorting on my part, it was hard to put this book down for any length of time.  It is haunting in that it has stayed with me for several days after I finishing it.

Most of the characters are well drawn.  I like the way that we get to see the genesis of the couples and the quality of their relationships, but a few of them didn’t quite hit the mark. I reached to understand them, but failed to truly do so in a few instances.  I also wanted to hear more from John since he is the only one of the seven to never have his perspective shared and explored.

Hoffman doesn’t shy away from the desperate circumstances that force people to consider and ultimately place their children with other families.  The details about what the expenses the agency pays, when they sever responsibility, and the business of bringing in clients and birth mothers were uncomfortable to contemplate and in some cases appalling.  The online culture of the moms trying to adopt was fascinating.  It becomes evident how high a premium needs to be placed on careful consideration and discretion in the sharing of information in such delicate situation.  The mounting suspense and thriller aspects of the novel really drives that point home.

Recommended.

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane

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22 Comments

  1. Can you believe that this is the first I’ve heard of this one. Sounds really really good…I like a book that stays with me for days.

  2. Like Staci, I haven’t heard of this one, either! I’m going to have to check this one out — not to mention the cover is adorable and seems sad, too, and yes — I do get sucked into a book sometimes by a cover…

  3. I’m looking forward to reading this one. As an adoptive mother with an open relationship with her birth mother, I’m sure this novel will give me a lot to think about. Thanks for the review, Nicole. I’m glad you got a chance to read it.

  4. I really like the title of this book, which I had not heard about by the way. I am adopted and that was the term my mother used for all of us (my brother and sister and I) – Chosen. Thanks for sharing and I’ll be on the lookout for it.

  5. I have had friends go through a domestic adoption, as well as adoptions from the Ukraine and from China. Totally different experiences, but all so emotional and financially exhaustive. I’d not heard of this book, but it sounds totally worth the time to read it.

  6. This book sounds fantastic! Thank you for reviewing it, Nicole. The process of adoption really interests me. It is intricate and complex and so much can change and go wrong during the process it’s amazing any child actually gets adopted. But a child who does is usually quite fortunate because they are definitely wanted by the couple who adopted them…at least in most cases. I cannot wait to read this book because of Hoffman’s background. – I read Laurie Tharps review that you mentioned in your opening paragraph.
    I’m so glad you took the time to read this book and then reviewed it. Thank you!
    ~ Amy

  7. Sounds like one I would like to add to my list to read in the future. I’ve had very little experience with adoption myself (besides a few good friends who were adopted) but the topic has always fascinated me. I like the idea of a book that looks at things from the different angles.

  8. I have quite a few friends who have adopted – from overseas and through private adoptions – and have heard lots of stories, so this book sounds fascinating to me. I’m glad you found it so good.

  9. Wow! I have several friends who have adopted and, like Kathy, I’ve heard some stories. This sounds great. Lori Tharps is my guest today on my blog! Glad she was the one who turned you on to this book.

  10. I am trying to recall if I have ever read anything on adoption. I think this one sounds amazing and certainly going on my hit list. Thanks Nicole…. checking my library for it now. 😀

  11. I haven’t heard of this book, but I will be putting it on my wishlist. It sounds like a great read. I don’t think i’ve read many books on adoption, but it is an interesting topic.

  12. Well, like you I had no idea how complicated adoption can really be. I would LOVE a chance to read this one. It really sounds good.

  13. I hadn’t heard of this one, but it’s definitely on my list now! As a retired social worker, with more than three decades in the trenches, I am all too familiar with the issues plumbed in this book.

    Thanks for the eye-opening review.

  14. What a great review. Harper has some really great titles, so that alone makes me want to read it. Since we’re about to start the process of adoption, I’ll pick this one up soon.

  15. Thanks for the review. I saw this as a “coming soon” and thought it would be something I’d enjoy. I have several friends who have adopted and listening to their experiences, I began to realize who complicated the process can be. Based on your review, it appears this book really captured that. It’s on my TBR List.

  16. Hi Nicole, I haven’t had a chance to visit in a few weeks and to be honest I can’t believe I know nothing about BBAW and the activities (I have been living in a fog this summer).

    Anyway…. This book sounds very interesting. I’m going to have to find a copy (maybe order it online, or Nook).

    I always love your reviews. Have a great night!

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