Finding out you are pregnant is supposed to be the most joyous time in a woman’s life. Certainly, after many years of trying, Claire is over the moon to be expecting with her husband, Josh. However, when a surprise diagnosis makes the baby’s healthy delivery uncertain, Claire and Josh must decide how to navigate the future when it is not guaranteed. Saving Abby, by Steena Holmes, investigates the difficult road to motherhood for Claire and the depth of a mother’s love.
Claire and Josh both work as children’s’ book creators. Josh does the story and Claire creates the illustrations. On a trip to Europe, they plan out adventures for the main character of their book, Jack, to take in future books. Their idyllic trip is marred, however, by Claire’s headaches. She promises to get them checked out by her friend and doctor, Abby.
When the devastating diagnosis is given, Claire is faced with the choice to save her own life or the life of her unborn child. Complicating her decision is the fact that she gave up a child for adoption years before, and she is determined to have a different experience the second time around.
I wanted this book to work for me, but it just didn’t. First, there are the names. Abby is the name of Claire’s doctor. There is nothing wrong with Abby, but the title of the book is Saving Abby. I kept wondering if her doctor was going to get sick. Also, the main character of the children’s books the couple writes is a boy named Jack, and the child Claire gave up for adoption’s name is Jackson. I found myself, not confused, so much as irritated by the name issue.
Far more annoying was the relationship Claire has with her doctor, Abby. The objectivity and professional manner that a doctor would have with a patient was entirely missing here. Claire lied to Abby about her symptoms because of the relationship she had with her. Abby spent the entire book telling Claire that she would be fine and her baby would be fine—ad nauseum. There were few to no discussions of survival rates, major complications, and consequences to taking too much or too little medication. Abby just kept guaranteeing she could save Claire and the baby. She promised everything would be fine—and within five pages, it was not. It felt like a bait and switch.
There are a lot of loose ends in this story that did not add to the overall main arc. The previous adoption, Claire’s mother’s love life, and the marital problems of the doctor were all thrown in and not sufficiently fleshed out. Each storyline felt thrown in.
Finally, while some of the characters felt fleshed out and real, many of them felt like thinly created, flat cutouts. Claire’s husband served to be the voice that made the ethical dilemma front and center, even if he was always striking exactly the same note. The restaurant owner was the warm mother figure. The doctor’s husband was the failing husband. I think the question of medical ethics and life decisions is one that deserves to be explored. I am just not sure that Saving Abby contains the depth that the subject requires.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Regina