The Ones We Choose: A Novel by Julie Clark. New York: Gallery Books, 2018. 344 pages
Reviewed by Brenda G.
In this, Clark’s debut novel, she presents a geneticist as her protagonist. Paige Robson is a single parent of an 8-year old son Miles. Paige is unmarried; her son was conceived using a sperm donor. Miles has questions about his biological father and is unwilling to accept Paige’s friend as a substitute father for a camping trip. Miles also seems out of place and friendless in his new school.
The story, as are most, is multi-layered. Paige’s relationship with her own father is almost nonexistent; he abandoned his family repeatedly during Paige’s childhood. Her mother always accepted his return, as did her sister. Paige cannot. Yet he is back, once again. He seems to have inspired Paige’s life work. That work deals with parenting, specifically looking for a genetic reason for the disengagement of some biological fathers.
Then Miles forms a close friendship with a classmate, and almost simultaneously, Paige meets the new friend’s mother, and the two women become fast friends. The classmate’s father includes Miles in family activities, and strong bonds are formed. All seems rosy, but tragedy looms.
I do not want to share the details, but the ending is satisfactory and answers multiple questions. This is an enjoyable family story with scientific insets which add fascinating insights. I enjoyed reading both the book and the science information presented in entries parallel to the text.