I mentioned on Twitter that I needed some ‘well-written fluff’. I also mentioned that I’d picked out Then Came You by @jenniferweiner – I sincerely hope Weiner wasn’t offended by the ‘fluff’ bit of my tweet because when it comes to chick-lit (she probably hates that label too), I reckon she’s the ants pants.
Here’s the thing that I like about Weiner – her stories don’t follow the chick-lit formula. Yes, they get to the Hollywood-happy-ending by the finish but the route they take is different. The women aren’t all skinny and aren’t all shoe-obsessed. In fact, some are perfectly ordinary.
Then Came You is the story of a couple trying to have a child, an egg donor and the surrogate mother. Each of the women in the story has their own issues to battle – some big, some small by comparison but all significant in the context of their lives.
I haven’t marked dozens of quotable quotes or life-changing passages in Then Came You – it is what it is – light, enjoyable and a book that lets your eyes slide easily across the page. Don’t interpret that as a chick-lit put-down. I pick up books with hot-pink covers for the same reason I sometimes pick up a trashy mag – in a reading menu dominated by contemporary literature, sometimes I like a story that doesn’t have me thinking for days after the book is closed.
And so back to Weiner – in an over-crowded genre, she reigns supreme. Her stories are smart, polished and thoughtful – Then Came You is no exception. It did make me think about the role of surrogates, egg donors and the motivation for doing these things. In Australia, you can’t accept payment for these things and therefore by design, the motivation for becoming a donor or a surrogate is vastly different here than in the US. We have a free monthly newspaper aimed at parents and the back pages are filled with appeals for egg donors. These ads break my heart – in fact so much so that I can barely read them, wishing I could help every one of these women.
There are dozens of food references in this book. Dozens. There are lots of pastas, cookies and cakes but it was a brief mention of quinoa that caught my eye, simply because I spotted quinoa burgers on Pinterest this week that look delicious.