Review Blog

Jul 25 2014

Let her go by Dawn Barker

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Hachette Australia, 2014. ISBN 9780733632228.
The blurb of this book suggests it is 'part thriller, part mystery'. It is neither of these. It is instead a family saga based around the complications of surrogacy.
As a result of suffering from lupus, Zoe McAllister discovers she is unable to have children and her sister Nadia agrees to be the surrogate. What follows is the long and drawn out account of what happens after the child, Louise, is born. This family, it seems, is never happy. Zoe lives in fear that she will lose her daughter and Nadia suffers from guilt and longing for the child she agreed to 'relinquish'. Lachlan, Zoe's husband quits his job in the Kalgoorlie mines but comes home a changed man, the reasons for which are not revealed until the end of the story. Throughout the narrative Baker makes the reader privy to the innermost thoughts of both Nadia and Zoe in an attempt to show both sides of the dilemma. This however does not always generate the reader's sympathy for either character. The male characters, husbands of the stepsisters, are only shallowly drawn, which may be the way of things in this situation but the love that is supposed to exist between Lachlan and Zoe is only stated and rarely shown.
One character who is clearly portrayed is the teenage Louise. With her, Baker reveals the angst of being a teenager, who simultaneously wants the love and affection of her parents but also fights against them.
In Let her go Barker wanted to 'make people think and talk about the ethical issues of surrogacy and the psychological effect on everyone one involved' (p332) and, in this, she succeeds but the road to eliciting that discussion is not always gripping or entertaining.
Barb Rye

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