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Maybe Baby    by Tenaya Darlington order for
Maybe Baby
by Tenaya Darlington
Order:  USA  Can
Back Bay, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Rusty and Judy Gilde raised their three children in the best way they knew how, but despite all of their efforts, their children all remain estranged as adults. Henry dropped out of school and joined a rock band, Carson ran away and joined the Hare Krishnas, and Gretchen lives in a 'gender-neutral' community. One day, Rusty receives a phone call that turns everyone's world on end. Gretchen and her live-in boyfriend Ray are expecting a baby.

Judy does what comes natural to her, she sends Gretchen her standard 'expectant mother' gift -booties in yellow, blue, and pink. Gretchen rolls her eyes and takes a stand: she and Ray are going to raise their baby in a genderless fashion. Only black and grey clothing, a neutral name, no gender-specific toys, and no one outside of Gretchen and Ray will know the child's sex for many years. Judy and Rusty are horrified, but decide that if they want to be involved with their grandchild, they need to learn to bend. Can people from two completely different outlooks find common ground?

I wanted to like Maybe Baby. The conflicts and eventual resolution between Gretchen and her parents are fascinating with a decent message of learning to compromise, and appreciating the value of family. It's refreshing to see that no matter which end of the spectrum your parenting styles lie on, the child can be nurtured and loved. But though the novel's premise is interesting, much of the book falls flat. The two brothers seem to be included only to contrast their parents' rigidity - the brothers don't play a very large role in the story, although the parents' failings are hit on time and time again.

The author's writing style is unique and fast paced, and she explores a subject many will find completely new and interesting. Maybe Baby is an odd book, and not for everyone. But if you enjoy stories that explore relationships and are a bit out of the ordinary, this may be to your taste.

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