Expecting is a bright, wonderful spark of smart writing; a book I thoroughly enjoyed, highly-recommend and miss already, now that the final page is turned.
One of the greatest joys of reading is when you find, almost, dare I say, unexpectedly, that you are fully and pleasurably immersed into the story, rooting for the characters, worrying for the characters, caring for their emotional rides. Ann Lewis Hamilton's tremendous debut novel, Expecting, had me from "hello," and left me wanting a Bringing Up Baby, book two, as I did not want to be done with these characters, their stories and their lives.
Expecting, the jacket copy will tell you, is about: A mom, a dad, a baby...and another dad. After two miscarriages and a little fertility treatment help, Laure and Alan are finally pregnant. There's a twist here, which I won't spoil by revealing, but the complication is the father is not her husband, Alan. What does this mean for Laurie and Alan, what does it mean for Donor 296 and most importantly, what does it mean for the baby?
On the surface, this is what the story of Expecting is about. It's a personal story of how three people deal with a twist of fate that none wanted, that none would choose, but that nonetheless has come their way and they must find a way to make the best of it - and how by making the best of it, they make something better than they ever expected.
With her spare, wry and deceptively simple style of writing (not quite Hemingway-spare, but devoid of all the silly, empty adjectives many first-time writers sprinkle across their pages), Ann Lewis Hamilton skillfully weaves a rich and deep, multi-layered story that touches on the mysteries of love, coupling, complications and carrying on--lingeringly subtle, you can't help but feel for the characters and you will find yourself asking: What would I do if this happened to me? This thought will haunt you (in a good way) as you move through the pages of Laurie and Alan's story.
On a deeper level, the book seems to speak about life in a larger sense. We all have expectations of one sort or another and without fail, life seems to throw in a curve we never see coming. How we deal with that curve, how one handles the vagaries of our lives, the strange reactions our spouses might have, etc. - this is what makes our lives work. Or not. How the curves are handled is the secret of our joys and our sorrows. Where Ann Lewis Hamilton shines as a writer is how she shows us a way, one way, but a way, to check our expectations and to take what comes and love and find joy in that gift, as it is, for what it is.