Review: The Surrogate by Louise Jensen

Title: The Surrogate
Author: Louise Jensen
Pages: 384
Genre: Thriller, Fiction
Source: Free ARC from Bookouture

Rating: 4 stars

Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Bookouture via NetGalley. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.

Summary: Kat and her husband Nick have been trying to grow their family, but after a second failed adoption, they are starting feel hopeless and a little desperate. When Kat runs into her high school best friend Lisa and she offers to be a surrogate for her, they jump at the chance. However, she hasn’t spoken to Lisa in ten years due to an accident that changed their lives forever. And she doesn’t know how much she can trust Lisa. While Nick knows about the accident, there are elements of the story that Kat has never shared, things she doesn’t want Nick or anyone else to know. Unbeknownst to Kat, Nick has his own secrets, the kind that would destroy his marriage, turn his life upside down. And Lisa isn’t exactly innocent either…

Review: I loved The Gift by Louise Jensen. LOVED. And when I saw The Surrogate was coming out, I needed to read it. And let’s be honest, the premise of The Gift was a bit of a stretch (ok, it was a very long stretch), but it was so well written and so much fun to read that I didn’t care. So, I expected a stretch here, was looking forward to it. But. While I enjoyed The Surrogate, and the writing was totally up to par, I had a really hard time making the stretch. I believe there are a couple reasons for this.

The first, and likely biggest, effect on my feelings about this book, is my own previous struggles with infertility. Not only am I little sensitive about that particular subject, I’m also very educated about it. I’ve lived it. Spent years swimming in the IF virtual community (blogged about it for several years). Having a lot of information about and/or direct experience with something that is used as a plot device can definitely affect your reading experience. Obviously, I knew from the title what the premise of this book was, and I went in with what I hoped was an open mind. But Kat and Nick’s thoughtless and impulsive approach to surrogacy didn’t settle well with me. I know it was a measure of their desperation, having tried all the other routes previously, trying to do it the right way and failing at every turn, but I know that desperation, and I still couldn’t get there with them.

The second issue is again likely my own. In truth, it’s a variation on the first. Right now, I’m struggling with stories that depict women as crazy because of infertility or post-partum depression, thinking about stealing babies, willing to sacrifice those around them to have their desperate needs met, doing things they’d never do under normal circumstances, becoming completely different people. Rationally, I know that these kinds of books are about extremes. It’s fiction. It’s not trying to say anything about women in general, not even about women who deal with infertility or PPD. Just like most mentally ill people aren’t serial killers, but all fictional serial killers seem to be psychopaths. And when I read a book about psychopathic killers, I don’t get all riled up about the unfair misrepresentation. I’m also not a psychopath or a psychologist/psychiatrist so…less personal, no? Point being, it’s me, not the book.

So, my final word is, read it. I loved The Gift. I think Louise Jensen is a wonderful talent, one whose books I will continue to read. As I’ve pointed out (ad nauseum, perhaps), my issues with the book were my issues. If you haven’t had similar life experiences, I suspect you’ll love this book to pieces. Give it a go. And if you love it, please let me know.

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