cover image Unexpected Child

Unexpected Child

Patricia Grossman. Alyson Books, $11.95 (221pp) ISBN 978-1-55583-544-6

Adopting a child is difficult enough, but for New Yorker Meg KrantzDa 37-year-old single, self-employed lesbianDit seems next to impossible. Grossman (Inventions in a Grieving House), who's a supervising editor at Scholastic Inc., sets out to wrench hearts with her protagonist's therapy-driven quest to become a mother in this nontraditional family drama. As a volunteer for REACH, a nonprofit organization that assists AIDS victims and their families, Meg makes the mistake of getting personally involved with newly orphaned four-year-old Kimble Toffler. Surprised and pleased by the awakening of her maternal instincts, Meg is unsure whether she will be able to sacrifice her independent lifestyle. With the help of therapist Libby Zindel, Meg realizes that she has spent her life trying to please her disapproving, widowed mother, Charlotte, and that she must stop being someone else's daughter if she wants to be a needy child's mother. With the exception of the amusingly wry and emotional Meg, the characters, particularly Kimble and Charlotte, are cardboard cutouts. Kimble's ethereal looks are described in much detail, yet she has a phantom personality. Too late, Charlotte is revealed to be more than a privileged, prickly mother; her superficiality about material goods and people hides a more complex, intriguing persona that is abruptly revealed, then left unexamined. Grossman's third adult novel (she is also the author of two award-winning children's books) is a fast, easy read, if lacking in substance. Its themes are general enough to appeal to a wide readership, but its core audience will likely be gay and lesbian. (Dec.)