14 July 2009

Book Review: Baby Proof by Emily Giffin

babyproofemilygiffinClaudia has never wanted children, and she was worried about finding a man who would share her feelings on the subject. But when she meets Ben and finds out he thinks the same as her, the pair marry and are happily settled.

However, their friends soon start having children, and Ben starts to change his mind about babies. However, Claudia isn't willing to change hers and she faces one of the toughest decisions of her life. Will she be willing to lose Ben over it?

Considering most stories in the "chick-lit" genre you seem to read either seem to be about unexpected pregnancies, the woman wanting babies and their husband not, or families as a whole, this book seemed really different to me and I was interested to see how Giffin was going to tackle the issue of the female character not actually wanting to have children, which after all is something that does happen in real life. Also, considering that Giffin has 3 children herself, I wondered how much she was going to be able to get into the head of a character who didn't want the family the author has.

Although both characters had the same ideas when it came to children, it was pretty obvious that one of the characters was going to change their mind about this in order to give the novel direction and Giffin has done this change in a subtle manner. It didn't happen immediately, you could see hints that Ben was thinking about babies, and I did feel a lot of sympathy for him when he couldn't get his wife to even think about babies with him. Ben is well written, and is clearly meant to be the more sympathetic of the 2. I couldn't really warm to Claudia, I found her to be quite stand-offish but although I didn't agree with it, I could understand her personal thoughts about not having children.

I found this book cleverly plays on your emotions because for most people, the natural thing to do one you've found your love is to settle down and have a family with them. But Claudia doesn't want the family. The odd thing for me was she didn't seem to have much of a reason for not wanting children, she just didn't feel maternal enough. I feel if there had been a stronger reason for it I could have felt a little more involved in the book but as it happened I couldn't stop myself feeling that she was being a bit selfish, and I know that's quite wrong of me! Giffin used the sad lives of Claudia's sisters to emphasise the situation as well, as one sister was having IVF to have a baby, and the other has 3 children and her marriage is in tatters. This is what made me dislike Claudia a bit more, but again you can't hate her just because of her own feelings.

Giffin's first person narrative from Claudia's perspective allows you to delve right into the mind of Claudia from meeting Ben to the pair struggling with their differences towards children later on and the following story. As with her previous novels, its really well written and an enjoyable read, especilly beause it tackles an issue which I haven't seen widely in this genre. The characters were nice, although I would have liked Ben to feature a bit more but its understandable why he didn't. This is a very readable book which tackles a good subject in an excellent way, and I would recommend it.

Rating: 4/5


  1. "the issue of the female character not actually wanting to have children, which after all is something that does happen in real life" - Afraid I can't agree there, I'm proof that those kind of things do happen! ;) I'm nearly 24, in a long-term relationship and have no desire for children. Everyone says I'll change my mind eventually, but I don't see it happening. I do have very good reasons though, but that's a whole different story. ;)

    I was so excited when I heard about the book - finally something I could relate to! I bought it in hardcover as soon as it came out and read it immediately. Luckily, it didn't disappoint and I loved it too!
    As you said, the subject matter is quite different from typical chicklit and I think Giffin was one of the few authors who tackled this issue, who I think is not so uncommon really. Personally, I don't particularly enjoy reading about women with children because it's just not something I can relate to (yeah, I'm strange like that, hehe) so this one was perfect for me!
    It's a great story (if you want children or not) and I'd recommend it too! :)

  2. I read one recently by Melissa Hill called Not what you Think thanks chicklit club's author recommendations! - which tackled this same subject except the woman who was not maternal already had a child! It was brilliantly done and although I didnt expect to sympahtise with the character I really did, although I sympathised with the child too! It's a good, but tricky subject for chicklit I think.