Having a baby to save a marriage—it’s the oldest of clichés. But what if the marriage at risk is a gay one, and having a baby involves a surrogate mother? Pat Faunce is a faltering romantic, a former poetry major who now writes textbooks. A decade into his relationship with Stu, an airline pilot from a fraught Jewish family, he fears he’s losing Stu to other men—and losing himself in their “no rules” arrangement. Yearning for a baby and a deeper commitment, he pressures Stu to move from Manhattan to Cape Cod, to the cottage where Pat spent boyhood summers.
As they struggle to adjust to their new life, they enlist a surrogate: Debora, a charismatic Brazilian immigrant, married to Danny, an American home rebuilder. Gradually, Pat and Debora bond, drawn together by the logistics of getting pregnant and away from their spouses. Pat gets caught between loyalties—to Stu and his family, to Debora, to his own potent desires—and wonders: is he fit to be a father?
Probably one of the best books I have read this year, I absolutely adored The Paternity Test. I really felt like I could identify with the story in many ways despite never having been in a similar situation and probably never having to be either.
The main characters are a gay couple who are looking for a surrogate so they can become parents. It really spoke to me how the story flowed easily from their former party lifestyle to wanting to create a family together, no matter how contrived the reasons behind it may have been. The story was artfully crafted and drew me in. I was not able to put down the book and actually stayed up until about 4 am one night to finish it!
Lowenthal has an incredible talent for descriptions and his almost lyrical use of words for the mundane and not so mundane was just so enjoyable. His writing style is exactly this type of verbosity I can really sink my teeth into even though the plot itself was incredibly captivating on its own.
The story started off simple enough, but quickly became more complex - the choice alone of deciding when to begin a family, and then to start one in such a way, are somewhat overwhelming, yet Lowenthal handled immersing his reader into this world with aplomb. The story then, in a shocking, yet not quite, twist, takes us to another place. I really wasn't expecting all that happened in the book yet it all seemed to be so natural and plausible that it made me feel like it was the story of someone I knew.
Thank you to Terrace Books, University of Wisconsin Press for our review copy!
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