Momma Says: 4 stars⭐⭐⭐⭐
One of the Boys will totally mess with your mind. I know it sure messed with mine. It's definitely a book that makes you think, and it's one that will stay with you long after the final page is read. I'll admit that I didn't find either of the sisters particularly likable, but that wasn't really a requirement with this one. As I mentioned, this is a book that makes you think, but it's really not about why each sister made the choice they did - at least, that's the way I felt about it. For me, it was more about what happens next, and I'm not going there. This is a thriller, after all, and we can't start throwing spoilers around. I will say that if you're worried about the science (I know I was), you don't need to be. Jayne Cowie keeps it simple, and I was pretty thankful for that. When it gets too technical, my eyes start to glaze over, and I don't get the full enjoyment of the story. That's not a problem at all with this book. The writing flows very well, and Cowie has a style that makes it easy to get lost in the story and forget everything else. She also gives us a fair number of twists, some I saw coming and some not at all, which makes for a totally hard-to-put-down thriller.
Bea glanced at her phone, saw the ten percent charge
remaining, and reluctantly called Antonia. She kept it short. Yes, everything
was fine. A boy. Nine pounds. Yes, that was big. She was tired. She had to go. Yes,
she would send a picture. (She didn't.)
Bea was more surprised than she should have been when, half an hour later, her brother-in-law tweaked back the curtain and stuck his head round. "Mind if I come in?"
That was Owen, always perfectly polite. He smiled at Bea, nodded at Alfie. Bea had finally managed to get Alfie to sit down, but he hadn't taken his coat off, and there was a smear of yellow mustard on his chin. When she looked at Owen in his shirt and tie and white doctor's coat, she felt a pang of shame.
"I heard you had a rough time," he said as he stood next to the plastic box that they called a cot and looked down at her son, who was asleep, still in his Mother Teresa getup. One hand had managed to escape, and he was sucking his thumb, tiny fingers splayed across his face like a starfish.
"Do you mind if I . . ." Owen began, but he was already unwrapping the baby, so she didn't bother to answer. What was the point? She watched as Owen examined him, touching his hands, his feet, his round little tummy with the blue stump of his surprisingly juicy umbilical cord in the middle of it, and she gritted her teeth as her son howled out his disapproval. Her gaze flicked to Alfie, and she realized that he, too, was watching. She wondered how he felt, seeing the ease with which Owen touched his son when he'd been too afraid to even pick him up.
"He seems healthy enough," Owen said, wrapping him back up again. "You were lucky that nothing went wrong. Giving birth alone can be very dangerous."
"I didn't do it on purpose!"
"At least you were in the right place," Owen said, continuing as if she hadn't said anything. "Quite the drama. It's all anyone downstairs can talk about."
He stroked the baby's cheek and then, finally, he turned his attention to Bea. Her bed was next to the window, and the light outside was fading. What remained bathed Owen in soft shadow. Bea pulled the sheet up to her chin, a shield against him. All of a sudden, she felt very vulnerable and leaky and sore and afraid. Everyone knew in theory that you were allowed to tell a doctor you didn't want them to touch you, but to actually do it was something else entirely. She didn't want Owen to touch her, especially not in front of Alfie. She didn't want him to put her in the position of having to stop him.
"Congratulations," he said. "He's a lovely little boy. Have you got a name for him yet?"
"Simon," Alfie said. "After my dad."
Bea looked at Alfie in disbelief. That hadn't been on their list. He'd never even mentioned wanting to use it. And anyway, shouldn't it be her decision, given that she was the one who'd done all the work? She opened her mouth to reply, but Owen got in there first.
He looked at Bea. "Are you going to have him tested?"
"Tested for what?" Alfie replied, although Bea knew that the question had been directed at her.
"For the M gene. It's simple, completely painless."
"I don't know," Alfie said, turning to Bea, looking for the answer.
Bea ignored him. "Why?" she asked Owen.
"Why should I have him tested?"
"It's important to know what you're dealing with," Owen said.
"I'm dealing with a baby," Bea said, and she turned her face to the window, away from Owen, away from Alfie, away from her son. She hadn't had any of the other tests while she was pregnant, and she had no intention of having this one. She didn't understand why anyone did. The idea that you would want to classify a baby as right or wrong, good or bad, perfect or imperfect, was abhorrent to her. As far as she was concerned, you got what you were given and you made the best of it.
Excerpted from One of the Boys by Jayne Cowie Copyright © 2023 by Jayne Cowie. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
|photo credit to Derek George|