Pamela Redmond’s new novel addresses the consequences of unplanned pregnancy in three different periods of 20th century America. Adoption and its effects on the mother and the daughter, the availability of birth control, the availability of abortion. Redmond shows just how complicated the decisions involved with potential motherhood can be.
In a Q&A published on her website, the author mentions that even though young women today have more choices and information than ever before, “the feelings around those choices, the difficulty of those decisions is much the same.” Why the title? “The babies to these women exist primarily as possibilities. And of course, most centrally, to the women in the story as well as to all of us, there is the possibility of who you can become as a person and what you can make of your life.”
Adult/High School–Redmond introduces three women from three different eras, three pregnancies in three separate stories. In 1917, Irish maid Bridget leaves her job working for the Apfelmanns to marry George. When he goes missing during the Great War, she returns to her employers’ house, a single mother with baby in tow. In 1976, newly orphaned Billie travels from California to New York to meet her father’s estranged mother and starts a sexual relationship with her college best friend, Jupiter. When she finds herself pregnant, she chooses not to have an abortion. In the present, journalist Cait has a one-night-stand with Martin, gets pregnant, and gives up an upcoming assignment in Addis Ababa in favor of staying in New York, keeping the child, and writing about (and searching for) her birth parents. Her research leads her to Billie, her birth mother, and this is only the first of the connections among the three stories. Cait’s search for her birth mother is far easier than most adoptee searches as many cities do not have an easily accessible Birth Index for reference. Through these stories, readers will gain a sense of the issues surrounding contraception and abortion during each era; for different reasons, none highly religious or moral, each woman chooses not to abort her child. Give this to teens interested in the current political discussion about women’s reproductive rights as well as those wondering about adoption and how it affects both parents and adoptees.–Laura Pearle, Venn Consultants, Carmel, NY