Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review: Inconceivable

About the Book:
After a mistake at her infertility clinic, Carolyn Savage learned she was carrying another couple’s baby. In this memoir that belongs at the top of any truth-is-stranger-than-fiction list, she and her husband tell the tale of why they decided to go through with the pregnancy and deliver a healthy boy to the biological parents. (Basically, it’s because of their religious beliefs.) The book, which shifts between Carolyn’s and Sean’s perspectives, would have been better had biological parents Shannon and Paul Morell contributed, too. From the beginning, Carolyn seems to resent Shannon for not being sufficiently appreciative, and even after she says she is giving up baby Logan with no strings attached, she is peeved that Shannon sends her the same birth announcement “in the same way that she had announced him to her extended family and distant friends.” Ultimately, the Morells bring Logan to meet the Savages, but it’s unclear how often they will see each other.

My Comments:
I'm having difficulty with this review.  How much do I write about the book and its merits as literature and how much do I write about the authors?  

I debated about accepting this book for review, since as a Catholic I believe in-vitro fertilization is immoral. I figured that the authors espoused a religion that did not so believe and that I'd be able to see their point of view, even if I didn't agree with it.  Unfortunately, I was wrong on both counts.  However, I'll be the first to admit that my beliefs about IVF may color my opinion about this book.

Some memoirs manage to tell the story without seeming self-absorbed; this one does not.  All the way through what we hear is that Carolyn and Sean wanted, and what they went through to get it.  Despite having two lovely boys, they wanted another child so they decided the Catholic church (for whom Carolyn worked as a school principal) was wrong in its teaching about in-vitro fertilization.  They chose IVF and had a beautiful daughter.  They didn't want to leave the spare embryos frozen (and they wanted another baby) so they underwent yet another IVF procedure and that's where the mix-up occurred.  During the pregnancy they hired a surrogate to carry the embryo the doctors didn't implant in her--thereby putting another woman through at least part of what she herself was experiencing.  

I'm sure Carolyn and Sean are nice people and they have a beautiful family.  I'm really sorry for what they had to go through, and from what they wrote, I don't think the biological parents of the baby treated them well--but how does one treat a gestational surrogate?  The book itself is mildly compelling and definite reminder of all the things that can go wrong with procedures like IVF--things that range from the destruction of "unneeded" embryos to mix-ups like this one--and that doesn't being to address the issue of surrogate parenthood.

In the end, even though I should have been crying buckets for the wonderfully selfless thing Carolyn and Sean did in giving up the baby without a fight, I just didn't care.  I'm sure it is hard to write a memoir--a book about yourself -- without seeming self-absorbed or self-congratulatory, and this book is the  perfect illustration of that.  Grade:  C


  1. Anonymous11:32 PM

    wow that is such a different world that we just are not in touch with .That it is actually what some people choose to live seems very strange to me .
    I certainly would not even have read such a book unless asked to review it !
    I think just from reading your reviw I feel very grateful for my life ! we too have 6 live children & 10 in heaven . Do I want another child , of course I do but to what extent would I go in order to have that want fullfilled . our youngest is now 10yo I had my last miscarriage and pregnancy when he was 3yo . I still could possible concive now but I just feel it is wrong to try and manipulate God's plan . what He gives or allows we are to be accepting and what does not come is not meant to be . That is real life , for me anyway ;-)

  2. I liked this book so much better than the Morell's book. I have empathy for both couples but little respect for the Morells.

    I also found it very interesting that the Savages so easily dismissed the teachings of their faith and went so far as to petition the Catholic church to change their view, rather than accepting it and moving forward with faith that what will happen is God's will.

    It was a compelling story and one that made me realize I can't truly understand another's situation in life simply from observing or reading about it.

  3. I didn't read the Morelle's book, and after reading your review, I think I'll pass.

  4. Oh man, that kind of stuff wears me out just to read about it.

    My wife & I wanted more kids than we had naturally conceived and went about it the old fashioned way: adoption.

  5. This is why I wouldn't read this book. It just demonstrates so many reasons why IVF is immoral. I only have 2 children, 11 years apart. Would have liked a dozen more, but it wasn't God's plan for me. There is still some time left. God's will be done.

  6. I'd be interested in reading this one. I'm not sure where I stand with the topic, but it would be interesting to explore it more. Great review!

  7. I remember seeing this book available and passed because of the topic. Now I"m glad since I would have been esp annoyed to find they're Catholic


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