Poignant, raw, and insightful, Jennifer Gilmore’s third novel is an unforgettable story of love, family, and motherhood. With a “voice [that is] at turns wise and barbed with sharp humor” (Vanity Fair), Gilmore lays bare the story of one couple’s ardent desire for a child and their emotional journey through adoption.
Jesse and Ramon are a loving couple, but after years spent unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant, they turn to adoption, relieved to think that once they navigate the bureaucratic path to parent-hood they will have a happy ending. But nothing has prepared them for the labyrinthine process—for the many training sessions and approvals; for the constant advice from friends, strangers, and “experts”; for the birthmothers who contact them but don’t ultimately choose them; or even, most shockingly, for the women who call claiming they’ve chosen Jesse and Ramon but who turn out never to have been pregnant in the first place.
Jennifer Gilmore’s eloquence about the human heart—its frailties and complexities—and her razor-sharp observations about race, class, culture, and changing family dynamics are spectacularly combined in this powerful novel. Suffused with passion and fury, The Mothers is a taut, gripping, and satisfying book that will stay with readers long after they turn the last page.
Gilmore s third novel (after Something Red) is the heartfelt cry of a woman who desperately wants a baby. Jesse Wein-traub, a history professor in Manhattan, is postcancer and almost 40. After years of trying to get pregnant, she and husband Ramon Aragon pursue open adoption. The chronicle of their 10-year marriage, forged when Jewish Jesse met Spanish-Italian Ramon in Italy, is a paradoxical tale of marital love surmounting cultural and religious differences and then veering into obsessive desperation. The torturous bureaucracy of adoption results in heartbreak, as prospective birthmothers lead Jesse and Ramon through a litany of scams. Gilmore doesn t spare her heroine; Jesse is angry, bitter, resentful, abrasive, panicked, and acerbically funny. She hates Ramon s possessive Italian mother, resents her own mother for the career that included extensive travel and little time for mothering, is jealous of friends who conceive easily, and is stunned when her estranged sister rejoins the family, unwed but pregnant. Throughout, Jesse muses on the essence of motherhood and on how the biological clock can be challenged by circumstances. Though often painful to read, this candid account at once embraces the possibility for anything and seems to set up a happy resolution for Jesse and Ramon.