The Choices We Make

Image of The Choices We Make: A Novel
Release Date: 
July 11, 2016
Reviewed by: 

Kate and Hannah have been best friends since the day in fifth grade when Hannah stood up for Kate after a boy tried to look up her dress. Now they are both happily married, Kate to David and Hannah to Ben. The love and camaraderie between these four best friends quickly reveals character and invites the reader into the friendship and story.  

The story is told through both Kate’s and Hannah’s points of view. Through Kate’s lens we meet her two charming little girls and get a warm glimpse at motherhood.

Childless, Hannah and David have “been married for 2,190 days and . . . trying to get pregnant for nearly every one of those.” Their childlessness is the core of this affecting and often unsettling story.

Hannah and Ben have had their hopes raised and dashed with fertility hocus-pocus so many times that Hannah “should be used to seeing that single line or the words Not Pregnant.” Instead, every pregnancy test still catches her by surprise, crushing her heart and spirit again. On some level, Ben and Hannah know it is time to look at other options like adoption or accepting childlessness, but neither is ready.

Just when it seems there is no solution, Kate comes up with an idea that could only be conceived by the truest of friends. Her unconventional suggestion may finally be a path to parenthood for Hannah and Ben. As quickly as their new hope surfaces, an unimaginable tragedy threatens to devastate their lives and dreams.

The Choices We Make presents gut-wrenching questions about friendship and loyalty, when a parent’s responsibility starts, and how to make life and death decisions that mean choosing between people we love. Under unimaginable duress, the characters aren’t always likable, reminding us, when what we love most hangs in the balance, we are not always at our best. 

The Choices We Make should appeal to readers who relish Nicholas Sparks’ sentimental stories combined with the kind of weighty issues often raised by Jodi Picoult.

The story starts in the “present” for a very short chapter that hints something devastating has happened—a pivotal plot point. It then reverts back 18 months, and the story is carried forward by a cause and effect chain of plot points. Presumably the first chapter is intended to create tension and grab the reader’s attention. The “hook” seems unnecessary. How much stronger could the story be if, instead of warning the reader, the sympathetic characters and compelling plot had flowed and built tension on their own?