cover image The Nearness of You

The Nearness of You

Amanda Eyre Ward. Ballantine, $27 (240) ISBN 978-1-101-88715-8

A successful Houston couple uses a surrogate to have a baby, with unintended consequences, in Ward’s (The Same Sky) absorbing study of parenting and what makes a family. Successful heart surgeon Suzette Kendall adores her job, which leaves no room for children. Even if there were, her family’s history of mental illness has convinced her not to risk passing her genes to a child. When her husband, Hyland, desperate for a child, suggests using a surrogate to conceive, she’s hesitant but reluctantly agrees. They take a chance on a first-time surrogate, 21-year-old Dorrie Muscarello, but when pregnant Dorrie disappears, they’re shocked. Two years later, Dorrie’s mother comes to their door with a little girl in tow, changing their lives in an instant. The story is told through the alternating perspectives of Hyland, Suzette, Dorrie, and their troubled, now 16-year-old daughter, Eloise. Ward deftly explores the heartache and tenderness of parenthood, especially motherhood, in all its wonderful, intense, and messy forms. Short chapters make for a brisk pace, and though a few twists seem shoehorned in, this story of love and hope is, ultimately, an uplifting one. (Feb.)