The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Genre: Literary/General FictionRoses in test tube
Publisher: Celadon Books
Pub. Date: May 31, 2022

I was first introduced to the talented author when I read her novel “The Plot,” a witty thriller that was turned into a TV series. This novel reads like a dramedy revolving around a wealthy, unhappy NYC family. We follow the Oppenheim triplets, a girl and two boys, which their mother desperately wanted, and had to endure numerous attempts with In vitro fertilization (IVF) to conceive. From birth, the triplets never had the kind of close bond that their mother expected them to have. Actually, the siblings seem to loath one another, which makes for entertaining dialogue between them. Most of the time, the mother is the only character that you will like. Just as the triplets are leaving for college, they learn that a fourth sibling, the long-gestating egg from their in-vitro procedure, is on the way—the “latecomber.” Korelitz keeps us in suspense wondering what role the “latecomer,” a second sister, will play in this odd group. Will she help heal or move the family even further apart? Through her quirky characters, loss, guilt, trauma, and privilege are explored because of the family’s experiences. Korelitz is known for her rich character studies, which are evident in “Latecomer.” It is hard not to cringe and smile simultaneously while reading this funny yet poignant family narrative.

I received this Advance Review Copy (ARC) novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

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“Claiming Noah” by Amanda Ortlepp

Publication Date:  July 5, 2016

Publisher:  FaithWords

A couple begins an In Vitro Fertilization (IVF ) program.  After three miscarriages the wife has a successful pregnancy and gives birth to a beautiful baby boy.  The parents are ecstatic.   They decide to donate their last unused embryo.   Another couple is on a waiting list to receive an embryo.  They are overjoyed when they receive the first couple’s donation and are able to adopt the embryo.  This mother also gives birth to a beautiful baby boy.

Now what can go wrong with this scenario?  The book touches on so many themes that it hurts the story, which is supposed to be about a court custody case questioning who the real parents are, the biological or the legal ones?  We read about; religious restrictions, class differences, unhappy marriages, new romances, a child kidnapping as well as a fascinating and extremely disturbing postpartum mood disorder that can turn into a psychosis. (I do not suggest reading this book if you are expecting but if you must the author makes it clear that this is not the usual “baby blues” that most new moms can experience.)

I felt the book would have read better if it focused solely on the controversial child custody battle about the two biological brothers.  In that matter this tale isn’t all that different from the book “Losing Isaiah” by Seth Margolis, in other words, a real tear jerker.  Your heart will break for both mothers as they both feel in their hearts’ that they are the “real” mom.