Book Review | “Claiming Noah” by Amanda Ortlepp A jolt of heart-clutching emotional drama as we teeter on the brink of understanding the fuller picture of this drama!

Posted Tuesday, 26 July, 2016 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I am a new reviewer for Hachette Books and their imprints, I started by reviewing releases by FaithWords (the novels of Stephanie Grace Whitson), their INSPY (Inspirational Fiction) imprint of releases focusing on uplifting and spiritual stories which are a delight to read whilst engaging your mind in life affirming and heart-centered stories. I found Hachette via Edelweiss at the conclusion of [2015] and have been blessed to start reviewing for them.

This marks my first review on behalf of Center Street which is also a pivotal imprint for readers seeking inspiring & realistic stories for today’s contemporary world. Stories on topics highlighting current events and/or pivotal life lessons wherein a level of uplift is gained by having the stories grace our lives with their presence. I love seeking out inspirational fiction in all it’s incantations of expression and I am finding Center Street is quite the impressive imprint for unique voices in modern literature.

I received a complimentary copy of “Claiming Noah” direct from the publisher Center Street (an imprint of Hachette Book Group Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read ‘Claiming Noah’ and continue to highlight stories of mumhood:

I have been featuring stories of motherhood on my blog since I first posted my review on behalf of an incredible adoption story: Red Thread Sisters. I was further moved emotionally by the incredibly layered story within the chapters of The Language of Hoofbeats which I had the pleasure of reading for review a short time later. My own path towards motherhood is going to be through adoption as I have been researching adoption for most of my life; as originally if all had been equal my parents would have adopted a younger brother for me. My parents wanted to expand our family first and foremost, but the added benefit at the time I felt was that I would have a younger brother! Something I felt my peers took for granted as I felt it was a blessing to have siblings rather than feeling resentful of them. This goes back to before children were legally free to be adopted and were not being forestalled from prospective adoptive parents; in other words, before Tipper Gore changed adoptive history.

I knew when I began Jorie Loves A Story I wanted to take time to highlight adoptive stories (specifically those featuring foster children) as well as different routes towards motherhood and parenthood, as there are so many different routes towards that end, the stories I could read are limitless. Part of my inspiration to do so is to curate a small library of choices to share with my future children; as I know self-identifiable story-lines are important to children who are growing up in non-traditional families as much as they are for everyone else who has a traditional home environment. Secondly, I wanted to read about motherhood because I feel there are wonderful writers out there who are writing about mumhood in a way that is tangible for today’s contemporary women and men. I think sometimes they are overlooked at being convicting and emotionally centering by the heart of their narrative depths by modern readers; thus inspiring me to seek them out and start to showcase them directly.

I love discovering stories of motherhood and fatherhood; single, married, divorced, widowed or newly married for a second time where the children are natural bourne, adopted, conceived through IVF or involve kinship related-adoptions. These are only a handful of ways children can enter our lives, too, giving us such a breadth of choice where fiction can take us. I knew when I read the premise of this novel it was going to be hard-hitting and downright thought-provoking as there are certain questions that would challenge the reader as much as the characters themselves. The best fiction are the ones that give us something to chew on and attempt to present a scenario that realistically highlights a life or a journey that not everyone takes but is worth considering how you might react inside that same situation. I was thankful Claiming Noah was amongst the books I could consider to review; as I felt it was a story that deserved being known.

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Book Review | “Claiming Noah” by Amanda Ortlepp A jolt of heart-clutching emotional drama as we teeter on the brink of understanding the fuller picture of this drama!Claiming Noah
by Amanda Ortlepp
Source: Direct from Publisher

This riveting debut novel of psychological suspense explores the dilemmas that arise when motherhood and science collide.

Catriona Sinclair has always had a well-developed sense of independence--in fact the one sore point in her otherwise happy marriage is her husband James's desire to take care of her. As she's often tried to explain to him, she took care of herself before she met him, and did a good job of it. But James has been especially attentive lately as they struggle to have a baby. They succeed at last through in vitro fertilization, but unwilling to risk the heartbreak of another miscarriage, they decide to make their "spare" frozen embryo available to another family.

Diana and Liam Simmons are desperate for a child. Unable to conceive, they are overjoyed to learn that as the closest genetic match to the Sinclairs they are the recipients of the embryo donation. Diana's only concern is her mother's disapproval of IVF, but any doubts raised are quickly eclipsed by Diana's joy of being pregnant.

As Diana is finding delight in every aspect of motherhood, Catriona keeps waiting for the rush of adoration she knows she is supposed to feel, but instead slips into a deep depression. Just as Catriona begins to find her way back to normalcy, one of the babies is kidnapped. Suddenly, all of their lives begin to unravel and intertwine, and none of them will ever be the same.

Places to find the book:

ISBN: 9781455565986

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Current Events, Motherhood | Parenthood, Realistic Fiction, Women's Fiction, Women's Studies


Published by Center Street

on 5th July, 2016

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 384

Published by: Center Street (@centerstreet.com)
an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc. (@HachetteBooks) via Hachette Nashville

Formats Available: Hardcover & Ebook

  • Trade Paperback has a #PubDay of 4th April, 2017 (ISBN: 9781455565993)

Converse via: #motherhood, #IVF or #mumhood

+ these two in combo: #Contemporary #Suspense

About Amanda Ortlepp

Amanda Ortlepp Photo Credit: Philip Klaunzer

AMANDA ORTLEPP lives in Sydney, Australia, where she is already at work on her second novel.

Photo Credit: Philip Klaunzer

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When does parenthood begin?:

I had a feeling with the title of the novel, there would be a question mark somewhere in the story I was about to read about ‘when does parenthood begin’? Is it the time of conception? or is it the moment you welcome a child into your life and start to raise them? Is there a figurative time-frame in a world where there are traditional and non-traditional routes towards becoming a parent? I don’t believe we can mark a particular moment where one starts to be a Mum or a Dad; if the path you took to parent is non-traditional. The simple truth is being a parent begins with unconditional love for a child and being willing to raise the child in a home full of joy and love for the rest of their lives.

My Review of Claiming Noah:

Quite uniquely, we find ourselves in the doctor’s office where Catriona and her husband James are fuelled by anxiety and expectation of what this IVF implantation session will reveal at a later date. They’ve reached the point in their IVF cycle to attempt to impregnate Catriona which is why the emotions are quite high, although not without a few surprises, as you gather the gist that Catriona isn’t quite as confident about this junction of her procedures as much as her husband James. This is an interesting place to start the story, as it’s at the very beginning of where life is starting to grow and how the expectations of the parents can either make or break a relationship where one party always knew they wanted to parent and the other, only chose to proceed to appease the others longing.

You can sense the apprehension in Catriona to become a mother even before Ortlepp starts to explain what is hindering her joy in embracing motherhood; she’s had a harder walk than most to conceive, and despite her husband’s intentions to help her through the worst bits (as she’s hard with battling through morning sickness, etc) the truth remains that at her core of heart, Catriona isn’t quite sure if she’s capable of being the mother she wished she could be. James on the other hand is a bit blinded by his own intent to father a child, that he isn’t seeing clearly what is in front of his own eyes: his wife isn’t as keen on the idea. James isn’t emotionally connecting to Catriona at this stage, he’s only thinking of the end result of a successful IVF session and how that would change their lives; granting them the ability to parent a child of their own.

As this story is spilt between two families and two lives impacted by IVF, as soon as we are assured Catriona’s pregnant, we move into the life of Diana; a woman who is equally frustrated by not being able to conceive a child. Except her life is further complicated by a mother whose Catholic faith is questioning her choice of conception and her husband’s thin line of accepting delays towards success of their fertility attempts is weighing heavy on her mind. She’s torn between doing what is right for her and her family whilst taking into consideration the impact her choice would have on her mother and the religious implications therein.

Catriona’s intuitiveness towards where her true heart felt about motherhood was quite conclusive, as the moment she met her son for the first time, her heart recoiled and her emotions fought to see him with love rather than have depression wash over her right then and there. As I’ve had friends’ who have fought through postpartum depression, I had a suspicion seeing how Ortlepp was leading up to Catriona’s birth sequence was writ to directly bring to light how some women are unable to directly connect to their children due to circumstances outside their control. From what I heard from my friends’, Ortlepp did honestly portray what Catriona would have felt both during pregnancy and at time of birth.

Diana’s pregnancy was urgently written at a clipped pace in deference to Catriona’s, however, I felt it was almost necessary if only to reach the pivotal point within the plot where both families start to co-merge into each others’ lives. It is only after Diana gives birth that we first learn which couple has which child: Diana and Liam were blessed with Noah (the child noted in the title) whereas Catriona and James had Sebastian. What interested me more was how Ortlepp delve into the details surrounding embryo adoption and how most of the process towards this type of adoption mirror other adoptions for infants; wherein you can choose to go through an open, semi-open or closed adoption (in regards to contact between families). It was curious to mention as I have a feeling some of the decisions made during Noah’s adoption might be a foreshadow to what is going to complicate matters in the future.

There is a moment where it’s hard to take stock of what is happening because you fear for Sebastian, even though you realise what is happening is due to mental illness. If your maternal or paternal reading this story, your heart lurches forward a bit, as if you want to be the one who walks through the door seconds ahead of James and rescue Sebastian yourself. It’s that powerful of a scene! Ortlepp doesn’t shy away from cluing into the harder points behind postpartum depression or how it manifests itself inside a mother’s everyday world. She writes an honesty of place and time, where a new mother finds herself experiencing everything she never dared believed possible whilst spiraling inward towards a darkness that is without limits.

Ortlepp doesn’t let you pause for breath whilst reading this suspenseful Contemporary! Right after we recover from a difficult scene, we fall inside a slow-moving scene of horror for a young mother – as we, the reader, are tuned into what has occurred but sadly, the mother doesn’t find out until much later. To add more realism to this scene in particular is the realisation that a lot of kidnappings happen in plain sight and oft-times in places where you regularly visit or shoppe. It’s not something you want to think about on a daily basis but the fact remains, it does happen. I grew up during the decades where a lot of empathsis was placed on how to stay safe from strangers and how to become familiar with your environment and everyday surroundings. It was quite the big deal – the fact my state had an unhealthy amount of kidnappings per year wasn’t a solace to the growing apprehension either. I quite literally cannot imagine what was going through Diana’s mind, except for realising how scary close any child is to being taken.

Oh. my. Did I just sort out the whole plot by page 145? How could… wow. Now that’s a twist I did not see coming if what I perceive is true, is true? There was only a small hinting towards this too,… a feather touch if you will towards what happened and why it happened… goodness! I haven’t felt properly a gasp from a novel I was reading for quite a long while! I think the last time was during a very emotionally wrecking war drama that left me with nightmares…

I honestly could not put the book down until I read it straight through to the conclusion after I realised what had indeed happened between the brothers: Sebastian and Noah. I was hoping the key part of the story would withhold my own beliefs about adoption and I can confirm that it did, as that was one sticky point for me to see resolve as otherwise, I am unsure if my final thoughts on this novel would have been as positive as they actually are now. There have been several reported cases of child kidnappings over the years and especially in the case where children are reunited. I even recall one tv movie of the week entitled The Face on the Milk Carton starring Kellie Martin which paints the picture quite clearly between legal and biological parental rights and the gray area that can exist outside of both.

Ortlepp revisits this situation from a different perspective – adoption via IVF, seeing how the lines can become blurred and how reality can become distorted when certain events happen that separate right from wrong. The most compelling part of the novel as a whole is the underlying circumstances – the mental health issues that plagued Catriona until she could receive the medical help she needed to overcome them and the unknown mental health issues her husband James was facing in silence. On the opposite side of the ledger, Diana was not noticing the position she was facing with Liam until the final hour where it all became so apparent it was numbing. All of the lives were converging against tragedy and the question mark about parenthood – when does it begin and what are the origins of determining a parental right to be legally honoured? In this particular case, it also tipped the hat towards exploring honouring the termination of parental rights before an adoption is legalised and if those rights can be overturned back to the biological parents if circumstances in the future past that adoption can be questioned or challenged.

Your emotions are hugged close to the pages of Claiming Noah, as depending on your own personal views on adoption and on the rights of both biological and adoptive Mums; your view point on it’s conclusion might differ from my own. For me? I was celebrating how Ortlepp tied all the loose ends together, as I cannot directly comment on them personally as it would spoilt the first reading for you, dear hearts, but just know, if you do pick up this novel to read, the ending befits the journey you took with Catriona and Diana! Noah is definitely a young boy you shall never forget meeting, too!

The Contemporary Dramatic style of Amanda Ortlepp:

Ortlepp allows her characters to speak their own truths as she writes about them – she loosely mentions adoption and other routes towards parenthood but let’s her characters guide the narrative forward based on where their own thoughts and feelings lie on the subject. This was refreshing as it shows how couples are trying to make the choices that are right for them, even if your own route is different from theirs, you can respect how everyone has to come to make their own mind about such things.

She has a way of presenting both sides of the argument (for and against IVF) from different perspectives which grant you the gravity of how hard the choice can be for some families who are going against the beliefs within their own family and/or their religion. It’s not a cut and dry subject to discuss, as nothing is ever that simple in life to understand but where Ortlepp excels is giving the reader pause for thought on all of it. Again, she never quite turns the narrative on it’s heel to reference ‘right or wrong’ but rather focuses on ‘action or inaction’ and the complications of what can or cannot come from carrying a child to term (with or without IVF).

Ortlepp definitely did a lot of research into treatment for postpartum and the variant strains of depression afflicting women after childbirth, as she has grounded this story in a walk through of what happens ‘after’ a mother tries to harm her newbourne and what truly is involved in the treatment for the mother’s recovery. Not since I read Etched On Me as a story been this difficult to read due to the nature of what is involved with it’s telling.

I applaud the approach Ortlepp took to tell this story, whilst owning the truths of what was revealled at each step of the narrative arc revolving around Noah, as he truly was first and foremost the central lead character who connected everyone together. Fittingly too, he’s the one who has the last say in the story and his innocent way of looking back on his paternity will leave you in smiles amidst a few tears, as his story is both inspiring and bittersweet.

The INSPY side of this story is subtle and quite subdued as it does not have a living presence of faith running through the chapters as I first felt it might be inclined to have, as it’s more of a realistic slice of contemporary life with hard-hitting circumstances that try to break your resolve. There are small bits of faith interlaced in the background of where each character in turn finds their spiritual life fracturing through the situations they are living through – but even this by itself is realistically authentic as sometimes there are trials people must face that put into question their beliefs and their walk of faith. I would say this imprint strikes the balance between presenting real life intersecting with our spirituality, with or without a strong presence of how a character turns inward towards finding solace on their journey.

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This book review is courtesy of:

Center Street

Recently, I re-started my focused reviews on releases by Hachette Books!

I originally planned to release my reviews for my third Stephanie Grace Whitson novel ‘Messenger by Moonlight’, my first Hope novel ‘A Place Called Hope’ and Sean Patrick Flanery’s debut novel in JUNE. However, due to a quirky tech situation affecting my ISP after severe lightning storms & an insane infestation of ants (of whom exhausted me in trying to convince them we could not co-habitat!) – I had to push my reviews for FaithWords & Center Street into late July. I am loving my journey of exploration through these inspiring imprints as the writers are leaving us with such convicting story-lines featuring realistic characters who have something to tell us about their historical or contemporary lives which inspire us forward.

By Grand Central Publishing, I reviewed ‘Two Across’ (see Review) whilst reviewing ‘Jane Two’ this Thursday! Return to find out my thoughts whilst I continue to feature debut novelists! Likewise, Moonlight & Hope will be arriving on my blog shortly thereafter, as I resume the joy I captured this #WWWeds!

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Also, due note I am loving supporting a Center Street NEW RELEASE for Non-Fiction:

I watched a documentary about undocumented immigrants recently & their plight to find a way to stay in America. I would love to read a true story about a girl who made it and was able to stay whilst succeeding in her field.

This is a pivotal story for today’s world.

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!

Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Claiming Noah”, book synopsis, author photograph of Amanda Ortlepp and author biography were all provided by the publisher Hachette Book Group Inc. (via their Bloggers Portal) and used with permission. Tweets were able to be embedded by the codes provided by Twitter. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Ruminations & Impressions Banner and Comment Box Banner.}

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Tuesday, 26 July, 2016 by jorielov in Adoption, Australia, Australian Literature, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut in United States, Debut Novel, Family Drama, Family Life, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Kidnapping or Unexplained Disappearances, Life of Thirty-Somethings, Loss of an unbourne child, Medical Fiction, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Mother-Son Relationships, Psychiatric Facilities, Realistic Fiction, Sudden Absence of Parent, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction, Women's Health




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