When starting a book, I normally do not read about the author until finished, and typically the author info is at the end of the book. I don’t want a picture in my head of the writer, his Vermont farm and two fluffy dogs running free while he works. I just want the guts of the story. This book, “Midwives” began with the author’s page, his picture and bio. What I mostly learned early on in the reading is that I am a sexist. HIS picture. The name, Chris, could go either way, but he is clearly a he.
This was the first time I have begun a book and kept shaking my head thinking, “a man wrote this????” It just felt odd. The story is told from the viewpoints of a very young teen girl and her Mom, a midwife. A man wrote this???? As I struggled to get past my personal bias against male authors telling girl stories (who knew?), I also struggled in the beginning just getting into the book. Rather than getting into the heart of the novel, HE started with more on the life of the teenager and her angst of trying to be noticed by her current crush. There is a horse, and lots of standard girl wants you to notice me on a horse stuff. Booooring.
I am glad I stuck with it, however, because once the lovestruck nonsense was put aside for the telling of the tale of a midwife and a birth gone wrong, it got interesting. This is a culture to which I cannot relate, and keep in mind that I homeschooled which is a culture to which a lot of people cannot relate. I even have a homeschool friend who delivered all three children at home, and seemed very pleased with her choice. So in addition to my bias against male authors speaking as teen girls, I also identified early that I have a bias against home births. I was going to say non-traditional births, but ironically, wasn’t much of our ancestry born at home, so wouldn’t that be considered the tradition???
Knowing that I had a natural inclination to agree with the side of the prosecutor (something bad happened during a delivery; you can guess), it is amazing to me that Bohjalian presented material on both sides which made sense. I would have been a juror who honestly had no idea how to vote once in the jury room. That is a good book. Characters were believable and interesting, and I especially enjoyed the fact that I did not know how it would end. Another keeper for the bookshelf.