New Book – All that is Left of Us by Catherine Miller (Chapters 1-15)

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Publishing year: 2016

The main character in this book is Dawn.

She is a young woman who is giving her twin brother and sister-in-law the greatest gift a woman can. She is surrogate to their child, as Rebekah, her sister-in-law is unable to bring a pregnancy to term, so after five miscarriages Rebekah and David asked Dawn to be their surrogate and she accepted. Dawn is already a mother. She has a ten-year-old son, and it is clear that Archie is not like other children. He has problems interacting with other people, and Dawn is scared of his melt-downs. I guess that the boy is either on the autism or Asperger spectrum.

When Dawn has the baby, a boy, she doesn’t count how hard it is for her to give away the baby. Biologically, the baby is Rebekah’s, but Dawn is the one who gave birth to him, so she is his birth mother, if not his biological one. Dawn, David, and Rebekah have agreed to keep their distance in the first weeks so that the couple and the baby can bond. Yet, Dawn feels miserable and lonely without her brother. Her routine continues with Archie. Part of that routine involves going to the zoo. Archie has an excessive interest in meerkats, which he goes to see every week and keeps a notebook of his observations. He even can tell apart all the meerkats. It is during one of these visits that Archie starts talking to the keeper, which is something he has never done before, and from then on Archie and Joel, the keeper, start a peculiar friendship. Joel is interested in the notes Archie takes weekly, and during the summer they are going to embark on some kind of project for the zoo to attract more children, and Joel asks Dawn if Archie can help. I have a hunch that Joel might mean something more to Dan in the near future.

In the meantime Rebekah and David can’t cope with the baby, who sleeps little and cries a lot. I find Rebekah’s character too whining and complaining. I know that a new baby will bring changes in life and means hard work, but this is something women have been doing since the beginning of times. In the past women used to have passels of children without complaint, and this woman can’t even cope with only one. They don’t even have the time to name the child!!! They only decide call him Harry when Dawn threatens not to help them any more. So despite Dawn’s feelings to keep her distance from the baby, she finds herself helping Rebekah and having the baby once a week. I am not only displeased with Rebekah, but with David. They are both useless. Couldn’t they get organized and take it in turns to look after the baby and sleep? I know that David has to work, but they seem unable to do so even at the weekend.

Apart from this, we know that Dawn has a secret. During an antenatal class, he runs into Caitlin, who she used to be friends with at college. Dawn had to drop out of college when she got pregnant, and now that she has reconnected with Caitlin, she wants to keep her distance,but Caitlin is insistent. The secret Dawn is keeping is Archie’s father, and I imagine that Archie’s dad must be Caitlin’s boyfriend back then or someone related to her. I can’t think why Dawn would want to keep the secret after years, and Caitlin is married, so if she had a boyfriend back then that cheated on her with Dawn, that’s water under the bridge, isn’t it?

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