Written by: Kathleen McCleary
Published by: William Morrow an imprint of Harper Collins October 1, 2013
Length: 352 pages
Source: E-galley via Edelweiss/Publisher
Leaving Haven opens up with Georgia Bing looking at the newborn baby she is now nursing, gazing at his eyes, his hands, each tiny detail. She then burps him, swaddles him and proceeds to dress, snip her hospital bracelet and walk out of the hospital…leaving him behind.
Written in third person, but in alternating views of best friends Georgia and Alice, Leaving Haven is about infertiltiy, friendships, sisters, family, teen daughters, love, betrayal and perhaps forgiveness.
Georgia and Alice met when their daughters, Liza and Wren were still babies. Some 12 years has passed and the two friends have supported each other through many things. Georgia is married to John, a chef and restauranteur. Georgia creates extraordinary wedding cakes. She is all things maternal and nurturing, having lost her own mother just after her youngest sister was born, she’s been raising children all her life. After she had Liza she suffered many miscarriages and she and John have done everything to have another child. Her last hope, now at 40 years old, is egg donation.
Alice barely had a mother, her single mother was young and eager to have her own life, and began leaving Alice alone all night at age six. Practically raising herself Alice loved her daughter Wren but had no desire for more children. She was thankful for a friend like Georgia because parenting did not come natural to her. After discussing her choices with her husband Duncan, Alice offers her own eggs to Georgia. Not a simple gift as her ovaries would be overly stimulated to produce more eggs, plus the retrieval, but she did this for a friend, her best friend, whom she loved very much.
Between the successful pregnancy Georgia achieves and the actual birth of the child her husband will name Haven much happens. A lie and deception so startling that Georgia questions many of her relationships and misplaced loyalties. The reader learns much about both Georgia and Alice’s marriages, and how they fell in love and what made those unions weak and strong. Georgia has the support and love of two sisters who give her advice and most importantly their unending support and love as she struggles to make choices about an innocent baby boy, a boy at the crux of so many decisions to be made.
I loved this book…can you tell? Kathleen McCleary has written a book with such emotion and gut wrenching choices that I was torn between who I was cheering for and who I was railing at!! Long term friendships often do become as close as family, and this was the truth for Georgia and Alice, so their mutual support for one another was natural. Giving your eggs to your sister or closest friend would seem a no brainer, but also an ethical and moral choice. McCleary writes an honest portrayal of a woman in pain not being able to become or remain pregnant, an emotional roller coaster of hormones and heartbreak!
Without spoiling the book and it’s deception I can say that McCleary tells both sides of the story, something not always done in literature, more often shown via just one point of view. This is what kept me saying well yes I see this, but oh yes I feel this way too…brilliant. Adding a baby to this scenario tugged at my heart even more.
I’ve given this book a 5 out of 5 stars, I loved it. This book will make for heated and diverse book club discussion…I’m thinking about it for my own club. Highly recommend and now available everywhere books are sold, but shop local!!