Baby, Baby, Baby, whoa
Emily Giffin. Baby Proof. St. Martin’s. 340 pp.
So if you’ve read my review of Something Borrowed or Something Blue, you’ve probably clued into the fact that I’m on a little bit of a Giffin kick. I can’t help it, she’s pretty high up on the guilty pleasure scale when it comes to literature. It’s like candy: tastes so good, but you don’t always feel so great after.
This is how I was with her third novel, Baby Proof. I keep going back because she’s so good at developing characters, and I keep wanting to see everyone be happy and pregnant and all that jazz.
Claudia Parr and husband have the ultimate relationship. She’s finally found someone who wants children as little as she wants them, and they set out to live their perfect child-free life. And then, from out of nowhere, Ben decides that he wants children.
The writing itself is delicious, of course. And I really did appreciate the fact that Giffin chose to approach the subject of children and relationships from many different angles. Everyone has their own experience when it comes to family, and I think she did a good job of highlighting some of the struggles that come from having children and wanting children as much as she did.
But I feel like there was a big miss in the plot line when it came to the relationship between Claudia and Ben. I know that the story focuses on Claudia, but I feel like there should have been more discussion between the two about why Ben all of a sudden wanted a baby more than he wanted a wife. They had spent years together, with no talk of a potential child, and within a short amount of time he’s a) told her he wants a kid and b) left.
So now we’ve got Claudia as a single woman without children and an ex-husband who isn’t willing to compromise. And she then spends the rest of the book trying to move on. I did like this part. It was heartbreaking, yes, and maybe a bit overdone at the end, yes, but marriage is a big step, and getting over a failed one takes time.
The biggest letdown for me was the end. I didn’t feel like any progress was made. I just spent the past number of hours reading this three-hundred page book, and I feel like I could immediately start at the beginning and continue reading on. Giffin left the characters exactly where she began them, and while there is more understanding among everyone, without any significant change we cannot know that everyone will be okay. We know for certain, in fact, that the same problems will arise again and again until something is done. Because that is life: when someone hits a crossroads, they must choose a direction. If they cover it up, the problem will not go away. I only wonder how many times her characters will make the same mistakes, and expect different results.