Book Review: Chosen – Chandra Hoffman

Title: Chosen
Author: Chandra Hoffman
ISBN: 9780061974298
Pages: 320
Release Date: August 24, 2010
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Summary:

Chloe Pinter is a social worker with a job at a private adoption agency.  She liaisons between birth mothers and adoptive parents, trying to match babies with often desperate couples who haven’t been able to conceive.  The story shows both sides, those of the birth parents and adoptive ones, spinning out to an explosive conclusion.

Review:

I don’t know much about the adoption process, so I thought Chosen might be a very interesting read.  After all, the author, Chandra Hoffman, has worked in the adoption field and understands the process.  Chosen is definitely illuminating, but its flaws prevent it from being great.

The information about adoption presented in Chosen is really interesting.  The dynamics between the social worker and sets of parents, the vast differences in both adoptive and birth parents – it makes a very interesting study.  Just as there are the extremes of birth parents – the sweet woman who just wants her child to have a better life, versus the parents who think they can sell their baby for bags full of cash – there are extremes in the adoptive parents too. 

The main focus in adoptive parents, Francie, is difficult to sympathize with. On one hand, she is desperate for a child, and the reader can’t help but feel bad for her.  But on the other hand, she is manipulative and difficult, only looking out for herself.  Her obsession with the internet and the adoption forums will be amusing to anyone who spends a lot of time online, especially bloggers.  When you compare Francie with the other parents in the book, it’s clear how wide the spectrum in adoptive parents is.

Chloe was the most sympathetic character in the book.  She works at all hours of the day an night for just $11 per hour.  She is expected to be on call all the time for any birth parent or adoptive parent.  Many of the birth moms don’t have anyone else, so they lean on Chloe harder than they should.  It is also her responsibility to manage expectations on both sides – while birth parents will pay for some expenses, they will not pay for a baby.  On the other side, she has to tell excited parents that the baby they were expecting might no longer be theirs, as the birth parents are talking about keeping it.  It’s a difficult job on all sides, and I didn’t envy her.

My problem with this book was with the main set of birth parents.  The book spirals out of control as it progresses, and the reader can see what’s going to happen.  Telling the story partially from their point of view was an effort to make the reader see things from both points of view and sympathize with both sides, but it failed in this case.  The birth parents were so unlikeable that it was impossible to feel for them in this situation.  They destroy themselves and anything they touch, so it’s easy to feel that a baby is better almost anywhere else than with them.  As a result, reading things from their point of view was alternately boring and enraging; this part of the novel just didn’t capture me like it was supposed to.

Chosen is an interesting novel with a solid premise, and despite my reservations, I still recommend it.  It’s got a lot of interesting information about the adoption process, and Chloe is a wonderful character to get to know.  The birth parents are definitely difficult and Francie definitely isn’t the most sympathetic character, but overall it’s easy to read and engaging.  If you’re interested in this premise, you should pick this one up; perhaps knowing what to expect might make this book work better!

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Comments

  1. The premise of this one does sound good, although it’s too bad that it didn’t pan out for you in the end. Maybe I’ll check it out of my library, though.

  2. The premise of this one does sound good, although it’s too bad that it didn’t pan out for you in the end. Maybe I’ll check it out of my library, though.

  3. I thought the same thing you did and came to the same conclusion! Very interesting read that I would recommend but the birth parents were a fail for me. I just didn’t haven anything to work with there. There was no way to be torn about them.

  4. I thought the same thing you did and came to the same conclusion! Very interesting read that I would recommend but the birth parents were a fail for me. I just didn’t haven anything to work with there. There was no way to be torn about them.

  5. As an adoptive parent, the premise of this book seems interesting. I don’t know how you could write this book without making some of the parents (birth or adoptive) stereotypes. Although I am disappointed that it didn’t pan out for you, I can see why you would still recommend it. Adoption (and the process around it) is really interesting and is really unique. I just wish the book had been a little better.

  6. As an adoptive parent, the premise of this book seems interesting. I don’t know how you could write this book without making some of the parents (birth or adoptive) stereotypes. Although I am disappointed that it didn’t pan out for you, I can see why you would still recommend it. Adoption (and the process around it) is really interesting and is really unique. I just wish the book had been a little better.

  7. At first I thought I might be interested in this, since several of our friends have adopted in the last few years, but since it’s not all that great, I think I’ll skip it. By the way, friends who are adopting are expecting their baby tomorrow!

  8. At first I thought I might be interested in this, since several of our friends have adopted in the last few years, but since it’s not all that great, I think I’ll skip it. By the way, friends who are adopting are expecting their baby tomorrow!

  9. It’s too bad this book isn’t living up to expectations. It would be good to find a book like this with more sympathetic birth parents!

  10. It’s too bad this book isn’t living up to expectations. It would be good to find a book like this with more sympathetic birth parents!

  11. I am interested in adoption stories for the same reasons as Kathy. But also like her, I think I’ll likely skip this one.

  12. I am interested in adoption stories for the same reasons as Kathy. But also like her, I think I’ll likely skip this one.

  13. It sounds like this one could have been spectacular, but it failed in the execution of the birth parents and their story. I admit to being curious about it, so I might have to check it out, even though I will be able to temper my reactions due to your honest and thoughtful review.

  14. It sounds like this one could have been spectacular, but it failed in the execution of the birth parents and their story. I admit to being curious about it, so I might have to check it out, even though I will be able to temper my reactions due to your honest and thoughtful review.

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  17. Comment from LNowak edited for spoilers:

    I read this book when it first came out and agree with the reviewer on some counts, except that I found Jason and Penny some of the most flawed but realistic and actually sympathetic characters I have read this year. Jason’s connection to Penny and hopes for his baby were ultimately what saved him for me, so that I found myself completely happy with the way the story ended. And there is no mention of the XXX plot here–I was up until three in the morning to see how it was all going to play out!

    I would give this 4.5 stars and highly recommend it.

  18. Comment from LNowak edited for spoilers:

    I read this book when it first came out and agree with the reviewer on some counts, except that I found Jason and Penny some of the most flawed but realistic and actually sympathetic characters I have read this year. Jason’s connection to Penny and hopes for his baby were ultimately what saved him for me, so that I found myself completely happy with the way the story ended. And there is no mention of the XXX plot here–I was up until three in the morning to see how it was all going to play out!

    I would give this 4.5 stars and highly recommend it.

  19. Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

  20. Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

  21. I was really excited about this book because I am an adoptive parent. There are aspects that were spot on. The use of language has become important to me and to Emma as well. Nothing makes a more real parents than living with, caring for, and eventually disciplining a child on a daily basis. That being said, Emma’s birth mother is no less real. The characters, for the most part, didn’t really work for me at all. They felt like stereotypes. During our adoption process we met several different perspective adoptive families. We all were very different. Perhaps it was because we went with a non-profit, but I never encountered anything like the perspective couple here.

    I completely agree with you about the main birth parents. They’re role in the ending was a complete fail for me.

    Great review!

  22. I was really excited about this book because I am an adoptive parent. There are aspects that were spot on. The use of language has become important to me and to Emma as well. Nothing makes a more real parents than living with, caring for, and eventually disciplining a child on a daily basis. That being said, Emma’s birth mother is no less real. The characters, for the most part, didn’t really work for me at all. They felt like stereotypes. During our adoption process we met several different perspective adoptive families. We all were very different. Perhaps it was because we went with a non-profit, but I never encountered anything like the perspective couple here.

    I completely agree with you about the main birth parents. They’re role in the ending was a complete fail for me.

    Great review!

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