Chosen by Chandra Hoffman

Chosen by Chandra Hoffman
Published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins
Review copy received from the publicist

Chosen is a compelling novel that follows several characters who all participate some way in the adoption of a child.  Chloe Pinter is a social worker in Portland, Oregon, in charge of domestic adoptions at the Chosen Child’s adoption agency.  Penny and Jason are the poor and uneducated birth parents of the unborn baby that is scheduled for adoption and Francie and John McAdoo are scheduled to adopt said baby when he/she is born.  This is a novel that attempts to show the hidden side of adoption – how it affects all parties involved.

Chosen, for me, was the kind of book that once I started it I had a very difficult time putting down.  What that means is simply that I enjoyed the novel for the fact that it was fast-paced and was on a topic I know little to nothing about.  It also held my interest throughout, and there were some plot situations that I couldn’t wait to find out the answer to, hence the wanting to just finish the book quickly.  What this doesn’t mean is that I necessarily loved the book.  Because while I liked Chosen, I had some real problems with it, and I need to be honest about that.

The biggest issue I have with this novel is that the characters are extremely stereotypical.  Penny and Jason, the birth parents, are poor, living in an apartment paid for by the adoption agency, there are drugs in the home, Jason threatens Chloe in order to get her to pay for more stuff for them, and they are sort of the exact type of people you would expect to be giving a child up for adoption (or, as in their case, thinking about giving their child up for adoption).  It was just too much stereotyping – there is no depth to these characters whatsoever.

And the other stereotyped characters are the adoptive parents, Francie and John – the rich childless couple, the husband works all the time and can’t be bothered to get to the hospital for the delivery of their child, the wife who stays home and sits in the baby’s room, dreaming of their unborn child, the anxiety and fear they have when they speak with the birth parents and/or Chloe – again, just too much.  More characters with no complexity at all.

The other thing about Chosen for me personally is that I don’t know a lot about adoption.  Because of this, I have no idea whether the book is an accurate portrayal of what real families, on both sides of the adoption, go through.  So I turned to Jennifer of the Literate Housewife Review, as she is an adoptive mother herself so she has personal experience with the issue.  Reading her review, it became clear to me that she had many of the same reservations about the book that I did, which leads me to believe that overall Chosen just isn’t all that accurate.

But I have to say that again, the book held my interest throughout and I did enjoy the experience of reading it.  I also enjoyed the character of Chloe Pinter, I found her to be likeable, interesting, and had more depth than all of the other characters combined.  Therefore, I wouldn’t exactly recommend Chosen, but I wouldn’t encourage anyone to stay away from it, either.  Does that make sense?

9 thoughts on “Chosen by Chandra Hoffman”

  1. I’ve read quite a few reviews that were similar to yours. I think parts of this book seem to work for people and parts don’t. Guess I’ll need to see for myself. I’m an adopted child myself, so I don’t have quite the same viewpoint, but I do know something about adoption. 🙂

  2. Makes perfect sense..yet, I feel that this just wouldn’t work for me. I don’t like stereotypes and I’m sure I would get frustrated with reading it. Excellent review!

  3. Urgh, it sounds like this would annoy me. A few of my cousins are adopted, and although I know absolutely zero things about how adoption works, I suspect this book would irritate me on their behalf. 😦

  4. Hi Heather

    Thanks for taking the time to read and review CHOSEN. I love it when my book sparks conversation–one of my goals in writing it was to shine a light on the complexity of domestic adoption based on my experiences as the director of a US adoption program. I wanted the picture to be neither positive nor negative, just realistic. What you see as stereotype is more an amalgamation of real life cases–these were my experiences again and again. I want people to squirm a little, to look more closely at what can really go on behind the scenes.

    Some readers might be interested in the story behind the story–how the novel came to life, or Q&A about “CHOSEN”, both on my website.

    Again, thanks for reading and reviewing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s