By: Amanda Eyre Ward
Published: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Amanda Eyre Ward’s book THE SAME SKY was my favorite book of 2015. Its themes of immigration and poverty gave the reader plenty to think about regarding their views and judgments. In her newest, THE NEARNESS OF YOU, readers try to understand a pediatric heart surgeon who didn't really want to have children and definitely doesn’t want to become pregnant. Suzette ultimately agrees to surrogacy when her husband, Hyland, nearing forty, decides that he desperately wants a child. They’ve chosen Dorrie, a young woman looking for a chance to get away from her own mother, go to college, and start a new life. Then, on the date of her sonogram appointment, Dorrie disappears leaving an apology note. Suzette must wrestle with the fact that maybe she really did want the baby, how to comfort her husband who is devastated, and stay focused to complete some of the most meticulous surgeries.
Hyland and Suzette are two professionals who have a comfortable marriage and rely on routine. Everything was fine until Hyland upset the apple cart and decided he really did want to be a father. Suzette goes along with the idea even though it gives her a lot of anxiety during the process of choosing a surrogate. The author takes each chapter and gives us the perspective of individual characters, taking us inside their minds and revealing what they are really thinking. Even though I was drawn into the story, I didn't particularly like any of the characters which made it hard to feel connected to their struggles. Some of the chapters felt like whining to me and Suzette's story seemed to focus more on the details of her surgeries rather than her relationship with her husband. Dorrie's character had potential, but I found most of her decisions to be unrealistic and frustrating.
When there is a twist and the storyline takes a new direction, I found I had a bit more interest in the story. Suzette is no longer able to control her and Hyland's monotonous life and she has to start showing some emotions. She begins to have trouble concentrating during her surgeries and life has complications that she can't seem to handle. As each of the characters is forced to make a decision, the reader realizes that one choice can impact the course of your whole life. For these three main characters and the child they bring into this world, life will never be the same.
Even though this story wasn't as emotionally heartbreaking as her previous novel, Eyre Ward still showcases her character-driven writing and talents for giving the characters their own voice. From the disgusting motel that Dorrie lives in. to the stark operating room that Suzette thrives in, readers can visualize the scenes and feel part of the story. But, there may be a disappointment in the predictability of the plot. While nearing the end of the book, I realized that it was going to have to be a rushed ending to fit it all in and it was. On its own, it's a fine story, but when comparing it to the author's others, it falls a little flat.
"You meet kind people, and you return their kindness.
That's what friendship is. You take care of someone and they become yours."
"You never know when you will be forced
to make the decision that will define your days."
|Amanda Eyre Ward - source|
Amanda Eyre Ward is the author of six novels as well as a collection of short stories. She was born in New York City in 1972. Her family moved to Rye, New York when she was four. Amanda attended Kent School in Kent, CT, where she wrote for the Kent News.
Amanda majored in English and American Studies at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. She studied fiction writing with Jim Shepard and spent her junior fall in coastal Kenya. She worked part-time at the Williamstown Public Library. After graduation, Amanda taught at Athens College in Greece for a year and then moved to Missoula, Montana.
Amanda studied fiction writing at the University of Montana with Bill Kittredge, Dierdre McNamer, Debra Earling, and Kevin Canty, receiving her MFA. After traveling to Egypt, she took a job at the University of Montana Mansfield Library, working in Inter-Library Loan. Amanda currently writes every morning and spends afternoons with her children. She lives in Austin, Texas with her family. For more, visit her website, HERE.
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