“Since the day Rhoda Mummau was baptized into the Old Order Mennonite Church and became the head midwife of Hopen Haus, she’s been torn between the needs of the unwed mothers under her care and her desire to conceal the secrets of her past. Contact with the outside world could provide medical advantages, but remaining secluded in the community gives her the anonymity she craves.Graduate student Beth Winslow is on a path she never would have chosen. Heartbroken after surrendering a baby to adoption, she devotes herself to her studies until she becomes pregnant again, this time as a surrogate. But when early tests indicate possible abnormalities, Beth is unprepared for the parents’ decision to end the pregnancy–and for the fierce love she feels for this unborn child. Desperate, she flees the city and seeks refuge at Hopen House.Past and present collide when a young woman named Amelia arrives to the sweeping countryside bearing secrets of her own. As Amelia’s due date draws near, Rhoda must face her past and those she thought she had left behind in order for the healing power of love and forgiveness to set them all free.”
– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20156503-the-midwife)
I’d like to thank NetGalley and Tyndale House Publishers for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
This is a hard book to review. At the beginning, I was confronted with some of the ethical aspects of surrogating. After all, the child does not legally belong to the birth mother. But what happens if the legal parents want to terminate the pregnancy and the surrogate doesn’t? How far can the legal parents go in their control of the surrogate’s body? Those questions were not raised in the book, but they did pop up while I was reading.
Beth, faced with the possibility of having to terminate the pregnancy without wanting to, decides to run. She goes to a very isolated community, hoping no one will ever find her. This was, in my opinion, quite unrealistic. When the child is born, she continues to live in fear. After all, the child is not legally hers. This, again, raises some ethical questions. If the legal parents wanted to terminate the pregnancy that originated that child, can they really claim the child as theirs? It’s a bit confusing to think about it.
At points, the story itself became a little confusing, especially when Rhoda starts thinking too much. I also thought it felt predictable, as the twist didn’t surprise me at all. As for the ending, it was also a bit confusing (can’t say anything further, as I don’t want to spoil it), but there is a jump into the future.
What I missed, at the ending, was to learn more of the girls that were staying at Hopen Haus. What happened to them? Did they deliver safely? What about their babies? What about the girls’ families?
Rating: 3 out of 5