“This was the child she’d said she couldn’t wait to meet, but now their meeting was all wrong. It was without joy. If Dr. Morrison had just given the baby to her without saying anything, she’d never have known something wasn’t right. She’d have taken it home and let it sleep in its crib. She’d have nursed the baby in the rocking chair and watched the colourful mobile sway above the crib. Oh, why didn’t he just let her love it and find out on her own?”
– from the first chapter of The Unfinished Child, by Theresa Shea, published this month by Brindle and Glass
I reviewed The Unfinished Child for Publishers Weekly, and you can read the full (very short) review online. Set in Edmonton, Alberta, the novel is a powerful meditation on the life and death of Carolyn Harrington, a girl with Down syndrome. Shea moves skillfully back and forth between what happened to Carolyn in the middle of the 20th century, and what happens to the friendship between two women, Marie and Elizabeth, more than fifty years later, when Marie becomes pregnant and learns that the baby has Down syndrome – just after Elizabeth has finally given up trying to have a baby. The Unfinished Child is a thoroughly-researched, thoughtful, deeply moving examination of pregnancy and infertility, friendship, and changes in the way people with Down syndrome have been treated over the past several decades. I recommend the book highly.
“It was funny, really, how the mind could entertain two such drastic thoughts simultaneously – There is something wrong with the baby and Everything will be okay.”