Review: Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner

Title: Then Came You

Author: Jennifer Weiner

Genre/Pages: Fiction/352

Publisher: Atria Publishing

Release Date: July 12, 2011

Rating: 3 Bookmarks

Source: Engelman & Co. PR

Natalie’s One-Sentence Synopsis: Four women are bound together by decisions they make about parenting, family, and motherhood and each have a voice in Jennifer Weiner’s latest novel.

In the last ten years, I’ve read or listened to almost all of Jennifer Weiner’s novels and find her writing style to be entertaining and her characters’ voices to be authentic.  Some of Weiner’s novels are set locally, in areas that I’m familiar with, making the stories more relatable and adding another dimension for me.

Then Came You tells the story of four diverse women and how they become connected through their separate actions.  When Princeton University senior Jules Strauss is approached by a representative from a fertility clinic about becoming an egg donor, she is given an opportunity for financial compensation that might be the salvation her family needs.

Less than fifty miles away, Annie Barrow is a struggling stay-at-home mom to two boys looking for a way to help her family make ends meet.  While she doesn’t have Jules’s ivy league education, she does have experience giving birth and decides to put her talent to work by becoming a gestational surrogate.

In New York City, India Bishop has struggled to get (and stay) pregnant with no success.  Her husband, a wealthy man more than 10 years her senior, has children from his previous marriage but is willing to have another child with his new wife.  His daughter, Bettina, sees India’s efforts as a way to take her father for a financial ride and intends to uncover her shadowy past and true motives.

Weiner weaves the lives and voices of these women together into an interesting story that deals with an issue I haven’t read much about. Then Came You deals with family dynamics, personal challenges, and flawed characters, but it also takes a look behind the scenes at pregnancy for profit.

Both Jules and Annie are primarily motivated by financial gain as donor and surrogate but ultimately end up in a situation I found implausible.  There are complications and major plot reveals, but none really moved me and I just couldn’t warm to the ending.  Weiner is a good story teller and had a great premise but the complication and resulting plot developments felt too far-fetched.

I’m sure die-hard Weiner fans will enjoy this one, and I do think Jennifer Weiner is a talented author with a great sense of humor and eye for detail.  I follow her on Twitter and enjoy her tweets, but this novel just wasn’t a home run for me.

17 Comments

  • At 2011.07.13 01:24, Constance Reader said:

    I waited up last night so I could buy this book the MINUTE it was available for Kindle…and I devoured it today, totally ignoring my kid to read. And…I had a lot of the same criticisms as you. I love having a new Jennifer Weiner book to read every year, but I miss the days when she took a little more time putting everything together. Alas!

    • At 2011.07.13 06:03, vivienne said:

      I don’t think I have read anything by this author. Perhaps not the right book to start with then?

      • At 2011.07.14 01:05, Constance Reader said:

        I would start with Good in Bed and its sequel, Certain Girls. Or Goodnight Nobody!

      • At 2011.07.13 08:17, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

        I’ve heard this isn’t her best, but it still sounds like it would be worth reading.

        • At 2011.07.13 09:22, S. Krishna said:

          I started this one, and just put it down 70 pages in because it wasn’t interesting me at all. From the reviews I’ve read, I don’t think I’ll be picking it back up again. Thanks for the honest review!

          • At 2011.07.13 11:36, Steph said:

            I admit that I refuse to read anything by Jennifer Weiner, based largely on her behavior last year during “Franzenfreude” and also her abysmal/childish judging during this year’s Tournament of Books. You know that I have nothing against an opinionated woman (being one myself!), but I just find Weiner to be so petulant and insufferable that it has really made me not want to read her books.

            • At 2011.07.13 16:31, Natalie said:

              Steph,
              I was going to digress into this topic and discuss how, recently, Weiner’s name was brought up by an award-winning author who snubbed Weiner and the whole ‘chick lit’ genre but decided against opening this can of worms. I knew full well what I’d be getting into with this novel, having read her other stuff, and usually don’t mind reading some ‘lighter’ stuff during the summer but was pretty underwhelmed by how she wrapped it up. I felt like she missed a real opportunity to take a look at egg donation, surrogacy, and the women who opt for both. That said, I did like some of the characters and do think Weiner’s multi-narrator approach was a good idea for this one. As for her actions and reactions in recent years, I find that authors (and people in general) tend to look better if they don’t stoop to the level of ranting and mudslinging.

            • At 2011.07.13 14:35, Alita said:

              I’ve only read one of her books – In Her Shoes – and while I thought it was just okay, I have been meaning to read more of her stuff. Perhaps I’ll skip this one, even though the premise is definitely unique.

              • At 2011.07.13 16:43, Meg said:

                I’m a diehard Weiner fan and am looking forward to this one, though I’ll temper my expectations after reading your review! I hate implausible plot twists that leave me shaking my head . . . and multiple narrators can often leave me frustrated. Hmm — guess we’ll see how this plays out!

                • At 2011.07.13 16:53, Ti said:

                  I’m not sure this author is for me. She seems to be pretty popular with a lot of folks but none of her books strike me as must reads.

                  • At 2011.07.13 16:55, Kathleen said:

                    I hate to say it but it seems that when authors start cranking out book after book the quality of their writing degrades. I read one of her books for my book club and found it entertaining and would read another of hers too but maybe not this one.

                    • At 2011.07.13 19:37, toothybooks said:

                      i haven’t read any of weiner’s books yet so i may skip this one and pick one off her backlist. i always hate it when a plot seems a little too farfetched and unrealistic.

                      • At 2011.07.14 12:33, rhapsodyinbooks said:

                        Oh, love reading your review and Steph’s comments, and thus being able to knock this off my TBR pile (while shouting bwah-ha-ha!)

                        • At 2011.07.15 19:52, kay said:

                          Jennifer Weiner has been hit or miss for me : some I have really liked and other I barely remember. I haven’t read her last two or three novels though, so this might not be the next one I try after all. Great review 🙂

                          • At 2011.07.19 11:17, stacybuckeye said:

                            I enjoyed the one book of hers I’ve read, but need to read more before I call myself a fan. Looks like this shouldn’t be the next one!

                            • At 2011.07.20 18:20, KH said:

                              I had a son via gestational surrogacy 2 years ago, and my heart sank when I saw
                              the plot of this book since most of the time surrogacy is handled poorly. I tweeted Weiner today to ask if she talked to parents via surrogacy & she replied she did not.
                              I guess I’m looking for advice on whether I should skip this book b/c it will irritate me or give it a chance. You can email me if you prefer. Thx!

                              • At 2011.07.23 15:51, Natalie said:

                                I don’t think Weiner handled surrogacy itself badly, but I found the plot details AFTER the birth a bit implausible. She doesn’t denigrate surrogacy at all–actually, she piqued my interest in a subject I didn’t really know much about. My issues with this book were more to do with what happened in the aftermath. 🙂

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