Reviews of Other People's Children by R.J. Hoffmann

Other People's Children

by R.J. Hoffmann

Other People's Children by R.J. Hoffmann X
Other People's Children by R.J. Hoffmann
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2021, 384 pages

    Paperback:
    Apr 2022, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Callum McLaughlin
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About this Book

Book Summary

A riveting debut novel about a couple whose dream of adopting a baby is shattered when the teenage mother reclaims her child.

What makes a family?

Gail and Jon Durbin moved to the Chicago suburbs to set up house as soon as Gail got pregnant. But then she miscarried—once, twice, three times. Determined to expand their family, the Durbins turn to adoption. When several adoptions fall through, Gail's desire for a child overwhelms her.

Carli is a pregnant teenager from a blue-collar town nearby, with dreams of going to college and getting out of her mother's home. When she makes the gut-wrenching decision to give her baby up for adoption, she chooses the Durbins. But Carli's mother, Marla, has other plans for her grandbaby.

In Other People's Children, three mothers make excruciating choices to protect their families and their dreams—choices that put them at decided odds against one another. You will root for each one of them and wonder just how far you'd go in the same situation. This riveting debut is a thoughtful exploration of love and family, and a heart-pounding page-turner you'll find impossible to put down.

A brief audio excerpt of Other People's Children is available on Simon & Schuster's website (link opens in new window).

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. From the start, we learn about Gail and Jon's struggle to have a baby. After suffering three miscarriages, Gail and Jon turn to adoption, a process with its own unique stresses. What are their respective coping mechanisms to deal with the uncertainty?
  2. Through flashbacks, we learn about Jon's troubled childhood. His mother was depressed and neglectful. How do these memories inform his concerns about fatherhood?
  3. When Carli first considers reclaiming her baby, Paige repeats to herself, "Right down the middle. Don't take sides. Right down the middle" (p. 145). Does Paige stay neutral? How does she help Carli, Gail, and Jon make their decisions?
  4. Carli studies psychology at school. At one point, she slogs through Carol Gilligan's ethics of ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The story is told from multiple perspectives: those of Gail, Jon, Carli, Marla, and Paige, the social worker assigned to oversee the adoption. This is a clever move on Hoffmann's part, allowing us to gain insight into each character's emotional turmoil. Resonant on a thematic level with the momentum of a page-turner, Other People's Children blends the best qualities of a literary thriller with the emotion of a character drama. It's the kind of novel that begs to be discussed with fellow readers by posing the ultimate question: What would you do?..continued

Full Review (590 words).

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(Reviewed by Callum McLaughlin).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Debut author Hoffmann has done a good job of looking at the unseemly corners as well as the bright spots of married and family life...A can't-put-it-down novel that will live in readers' thoughts long after they finish reading.

Library Journal
Hoffmann's debut is powerful with strong, well-developed characters. The decisions they must make are gut-wrenching...The story takes turn after hairpin turn, moving into domestic suspense, that will have readers waiting with bated breath until the conclusion; even then, they'll be left to wonder if there is more.

Publishers Weekly
[R]iveting...Hoffmann's believable characters don't disappoint, and his engrossing look at fraught issues piques. This sharp tale of heartache, loss, and redemption resonates.

Author Blurb Cara Wall, bestselling author of The Dearly Beloved, a "Read with Jenna" Book Club Selection
Other People's Children is a heartbreakingly dark, suspenseful exploration of the boundaries two women push to have a child. What I found most moving, however, were the tenuous relationships between the adult characters and their mothers. The story is a page turner, but the deeper insights about family will keep you thinking about this book for a long while.

Author Blurb Laura Dave, bestselling author of Last Thing He Told Me
Other People's Children is an engrossing debut about the different ways we find our way to parenthood and to the people we are meant to be. I loved these characters and was on the edge of my seat until the last page, hoping they'd find their happy endings.

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Beyond the Book

Open Adoption in the United States

Close up photo of a baby's hand gripping an adult's fingerAround 140,000 children are adopted in the U.S. each year. This equates to nearly 100 million Americans having some experience of adoption within their immediate family. While the process was once shrouded in secrecy and stigma for many, it is much more commonly discussed and celebrated today. In fact, many U.S. agencies now encourage both the biological and adoptive parent(s) to consider engaging in open adoption, and 9 out of 10 birth mothers are now requesting some degree of contact with their child's adoptive parent(s).

What is an open adoption?

Put simply, there are three main types of adoption — closed, semi-open and open. In the past, nearly all adoptions in the U.S. were closed. This is when there is no contact or ...

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