Tuesday, July 5, 2011

REVIEW: Three Wishes by Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones and Pamela Ferdinand

A True Story of Good Friends, Crushing Heartbreak, and Astonishing Luck on Our Way to Love and Motherhood

This is the G selection for the Authors by the Alphabet Book Club for the month of June 2011. This book was selected by Marce who blogs at Tea Time with Marce where you can find her review and links to the Q&A book discussion posted by other book club members. Anyone interested in joining the monthly book club is welcome and invited to join on the Authors by the Alphabet Book Club sign up post on Paula's blog.

The title and subtitle of this book explains largely what this book is about, but to elaborate just a bit, it is a memoir co written by three friends who have found themselves at the same cross road of life and how they proceed to make at least one of their wishes come true---to be a mother and everything else that happens to them during their journey to motherhood. Carey, Beth and Pam are all successful journalists, each with a string of failed relationships behind them and now in their late thirties, feel very strongly about pursuing motherhood as a single parent. Carey is the first to start on the road to motherhood by purchasing eight vials of sperm from an anonymous sperm donor. But just as Carey prepares for insemination, she meets someone and is soon pregnant. The vials then get passed to Beth who has finally put a difficult divorce behind her, but she, too, meets a man who might just be the one and also gets pregnant. Finally the vials get passed to Pam, the romantic of the three women who is always on the lookout for true love, but is not willing to let the chance at motherhood pass her by before she's too old to conceive. Happily, she, too, finds love in the nick of time. This is a very simplistic overview of what these three women go through in their unconventional pursuit of motherhood. They experience uncertainties in their relationships, challenges with balancing their jobs with their pursuit of motherhood, as well as heart wrenching losses and deep felt sorrow that will be a part of them forever, but in the end this memoir tells the story of how three women found true love and motherhood perhaps later than most women, and maybe in a different order, but not at all too late to live "happily ever after."

The chapters rotate between narrations from Carey, Beth and Pam pretty much in chronological order as they each pursue their ultimate goal of becoming a mother. They share pertinent anecdotes about their careers, living arrangements, their extended families and of course their mutual friendships. They also share their past relationship failures, the experiences and challenges of their current relationships, terrible losses and tremendous joys that make the journey to love and parenthood worth every emotional scar we ever bear.

The writing in this memoir flows very easily, and Carey, Beth and Pam include a lot of conversations they've had with friends, family, lovers and other significant people in their lives, and that dialogue helps the book read like a story and not just a string of events, the latter of which could easily lead to boredom with a memoir. While reading the first few chapters, I admit that I felt quite removed from the women's situations, largely because my life path was so different and I couldn't quite relate to being 40-ish years old, a wealthy career woman, single with no love interests on the horizon and no child of my own in my heart. However, the more chapters I read in this memoir, the more absorbed I became in these woman's lives, the more I empathized with their situations and the more I grasped onto the hope that they would not only become mothers, but also find permanent love in a healthy marriage.

One of "issues" that I have with this book --and it's not even really an issue, but more of an observation-- is that Carey, Beth and Pam were all financially well off and could easily afford to pursue the medical avenues of getting pregnant on their own as well as the child care expenses after the baby's arrival. It just doesn't seem realistic that there is a large demographic of 40-ish women out there who can afford such lifestyles and the freedom to pursue single motherhood like these women did.

Also, Carey, Beth and Pam's stories were so similar and their narration voices so similar that at times I had a difficult time keeping track of whose story I was reading and I found myself flipping around a few pages to jog my memory.

Ultimately, I found Three Wishes to be a thought provoking and very personal look into the lives of these three modern women who were so determined to have children of their own. They survived many difficult situations, made life altering decisions and learned to live with those decisions, and above all they were very lucky to have had their three wishes come true.

In closing, I'd like to end my review with my favorite quote from the memoir. It is a quote from Pam, the final recipient of the donor vials around the time she decides with certainty to pursue having a child on her own. I think this passage captures the essence of what each of these three women feel and why they were so incredibly determined to become mothers. I think I would have felt the same if I were in their place.

"Finally, at thirty-seven years old, I confronted myself. I considered what I could not live without and immediately knew it was a child. That for me, life would have a far lesser purpose if I could not be a mother. I once read that the ancient Egyptians described childless women as 'mothers of the missing ones,' and that imagery wrenched me to the core. I could almost feel an ache in my bones for the child who would be missing to me." --Pam [p. 108]



  1. It sounds like an interesting memoir, but I think I would have trouble with the similar narratives, and also, having kids isn't something I so far want to pursue in my own life, so I don't know if I could connect, particularly because it's a memoir and not fiction, it that makes any sense.

  2. You definitely enjoyed this one the most, it was great to see your answers, glad you linked up.

    Exciting that it is your month to choose.

  3. I think this book sounds very interesting and will be checking out my library to see if they have a copy! Thanks for the great review!

  4. hey Christine! :)

    What time period is this book set? The cover gives me an "old" feeling... like a couple of decade ago?

    Glad you enjoyed it, but I think I'll pass, because this doesn't seem to be my genre.

  5. Like I said in my review... this memoir would really only appeal to a very specific and narrow demographic. If you are in your mid to late 30s, single, rich and are considering becoming a single mom... then read this. Otherwise, I don't know... read only if you're really curious.

    I agree. This isn't for you. But thanks so much for reading my review, anyway! :)

    This was a tough book! I'm glad I read it though. :)

    It is an interesting memoir and a pretty quick read, too. I just want to warn you, though, some of the heartache is REALLY heartbreaking. I didn't elaborate in my review but two of the women have genetic issues with their first pregnancies and make some REALLY difficult decisions that you may have a difficult time with given your strong religious beliefs.

    This memoir is actually contemporary. The memoir is published in 2010 so I think everything took place in the 2000s... maybe the 1990s, but I don't think much earlier than that because of the genetic testing two of the women had was simply not readily available much earlier than that.

    I don't think it's your genre either. ;)

  6. It was a very thought provoking book and for someone like me with very strong opinions and a big mouth, it makes for some lively discussion!


  7. Paula... LOL!
    I think we just cross posted on each other's blogs. ; )

    I think most people who read this book feel strongly like you, Marce and Belle. Their stories are unconventional and controversial, that's for sure.

  8. I think you're right! Grave Sight sounds good, great series choice! Do you have an e-reader? I have 1 and 2 in pdf form this way you don't have to buy it, if you have a kindle it can be converted to mobi with calibri.


  9. Wow, this sounds like an interesting book. The best thing about your read along is that you get to experience several different types of stories and genres...I find that a lot of fun! I can see that it would be a little frustrating if three different women are writting the story yet it sounds like only one person because their voices and experiences are so similar. Great review and I'm glad that overall you did enjoy it. :-)

  10. Christine, Thanks for the warning. I checked and my library doesn't have it. However, I have it on my list. I read many different genres and maybe someday my library will get it in. *g* Y'all are going to like Grave Sight, though it's very different from her Sookie books.

  11. Christine:

    Just seeing this now. I'm glad that you posted such a positive review. I always want to try and be as positive as possible but I guess my religious moorings sort of got in the way of the order in which these women chose to become mothers. However, I did not realize I had this strong religious point of view until confronted with the heartbreaking scenes in this story. It sort of brought out the "God" in me.

  12. Paula...
    Thanks so much for the offer, but my library has Grave Sight and it's IN, so I'll head out tomorrow and pick it up!

    I have an iPad and can read pdf books and files in iBooks. I also use the Kindle app.

    This book club is really great at expanding all of our reading horizons. Anyone is welcome to join if you think it might be fun to try out.

    The memoir is more than 6 months old, so if you're really interested, maybe you can request it through inter library loan or something. Thanks for the encouraging words about Grave Sight!

    I understand your response to this book. It definitely stirs some strong emotions in the reader no matter what.

  13. I'll have to wait to put it on Inter-library loan, I have two on there now and don't like to place more than that at a time. (If I have more I feel like I'm abusing the inter-library loan resource, weird I know.) *g*

  14. I'm not a memoirs person - but that quote at the end of your review is hauntingly beautiful...

  15. Brandy... I know what you mean. Then they all come in at the same time, right?

    writershannon... I'm not usually a fan of memoirs, either, so I'm finding this book club really great for expanding my horizons a bit. This memoir was easy to read, too... not too long and it has a lot of dialogue, so that helped.

    I'm glad you like the quote, too. :)


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