Four women, one pursuit of happiness.
Beautiful Jules, a senior at Princeton, only wants her alcoholic father to get help — and return to the respectable, successful teacher their community knew and loved. Without the funds to enroll him in a rehab program, Jules begrudgingly accepts an offer to donate her eggs to an infertile couple. She thinks it won’t bother her, the idea of a miniature half-Jules running around in the world, but sometimes closed doors don’t stay closed . . .
Annie, a sweet 24-year-old with two young boys, hates seeing her husband struggle to pay the monthly bills with their combined meager incomes — and views surrogacy as a means to give her family the stability they desperately crave. On the surface, carrying another couple’s baby doesn’t seem like a struggle; after all, she has children of her own. And the winter coats that money could buy . . .
Young, successful and single, Bettina is used to others noticing her last name first — comes with being the progeny of a New York billionaire, after all. After her parents’ divorce, Bettina worries endlessly over Marcus, her distinguished father — especially when he shows up with India, a gorgeous woman many years his junior. Convinced there’s more to India than her polished facade, Bettina does some digging . . . and comes up with more information than she bargained for. And when Marcus and India talk about having a child together, they’re set on a collision course no one could have predicted.
Jennifer Weiner’s Then Came You is a fascinating web of interlocking stories, uniting four women who have little in common superficially but are linked by one big
thing someone. In true Weiner style, the author envelopes us in the worlds of four characters and unites them just as the drama reaches a fever pitch. Interesting and often heartbreaking, Then Came You is also a testament to the bonds of family.
Of the many varied characters, I liked — and most felt for — Annie. A working-class mom tired of seeing her husband’s hunched shoulders and defeated expression, she’s determined to better their situation — and she sees surrogacy as a means to a leg-up. What she doesn’t predict is the rejection and skepticism in her own extended family, and the coldness she experiences in her own house. My heart broke for her as she struggled under the weight of her irreversible decision, and I wished others had shown some compassion. What she was doing was really noble, honestly, and I’d never considered the emotional ramifications of surrogacy quite as much as I did after finishing this book.
India herself was an enigma. Weiner slowly feeds us her story, giving bits and pieces of her broken past, and I found her reinvention fascinating. On the whole, though, I never felt like I really got to know her. Did she really love Marcus? Was he just a golden ticket to a better life? Even after finishing Then Came You, I don’t feel I can answer that. The hopeless romantic in me wants to believe she didn’t see him merely as a gravy train to the pampered life, but I don’t know if that’s true. She had a chip on her shoulder, a sense of entitlement — and though she believed she’d have to work for what she wanted, snagging Marcus’ interest seemed like a “reward” for how hard she worked to distance herself from a torrid past. That’s not love to me.
Though a bit predictable, I got very engrossed in Weiner’s family dynamics and read the book quickly. Jules was an interesting character, and I appreciated that Weiner took a different route with her . . . and didn’t play up certain facets of her life. Though it could have, her love life didn’t take center stage, and I thought her struggles with her father’s addiction were heartfelt and realistic. And though Bettina seemed like a hard-nosed, nosy harpy at points, I understood where she was coming from — and can’t say I wouldn’t have acted similarly in her situation. And when she steps up to the plate, she steps up big.
Fans of contemporary fiction, women’s fiction, family dynamics and stories of adoption will find plenty to enjoy in Then Came You. Weiner’s hallmark is her ability to present multiple women in sympathetic, unique lights, and to demonstrate how the bonds of female friendship and camaraderie can get us through most anything. She rarely fails to present interesting, dynamic women who bust stereotypes, and that’s what makes her one of my favorite authors.
3.5 out of 5!