Well this was lovely and exactly what I needed in this moment. Fellow Cannonballer LB was asking in another group we share what to call a surprise pregnancy trope. I realized that I also had an arc of the book they were asking about, and that I desperately wanted to read a surprise pregnancy book. For reasons, I had been thinking a lot about two recent deaths that I hadn’t allowed myself to mourn because my relationships with both people were so complicated and thorny. A book about falling in love while about to bring a new person into the world sounded like a lifeline for my soul. Further, I have read enough of Cara Bastone’s books to know that while there would be emotional complexity, no tragedy would befall the main characters during the book.
Ready or Not opens with Eve Hatch at the gynecologist confirming that she is, in fact pregnant. We learn quickly that: she is single, this pregnancy defeated contraceptives, she doesn’t want to get an abortion (but not for religious reasons), and her best friend, Willa, is not as excited as she hoped she would be, but Willa’s brother, Shep, who is temporarily living with Willa, is excited for her. Eve, Willa and Shep grew up together in the midwest, but are all building lives in Brooklyn.
I am blessedly past any danger of pregnancy, but the tense dynamic between Eve, who is unexpectedly pregnant, and Willa, who has been trying to become pregnant, is familiar to me. Willa is doing her best to be the friend Eve needs while Eve is doing her best to understand that this is an emotionally fraught time. I love that Bastone shows the tension, but makes it a part of their friendship evolving rather than ending. With only a couple of exceptions, everyone on page is a fundamentally good person.
I do love a well done pregnancy book. Pregnancy can be a time when a person reassesses the foundations of their life. Being a parent requires a fundamental shift in priorities. There are so many lovely, tender, and funny moments in Ready or Not. Reading as Eve becomes braver about her life, falls in love with Shep, and lets herself ask for more from the people around her was like a hug.
I’ve been talking about the fantasy aspects of romance in conversation in a way I haven’t been in my reviews, so I’m going to try something – I’m going to write a little bit about where I see the fantasy. And to clarify, I think fantasy is great – it can help us imagine a better world. Imagination is a necessary ingredient in making positive change in our lives in small ways and big. One of the most obvious elements of fantasy here is that Eve can afford pre-natal healthcare and an apartment in Brooklyn on the salary of a low level administrator at a non-profit. But the world is not so different from our own reality because she stresses about how she will afford childcare, or a larger apartment. The emotional fantasy though is finding the love that’s been there all this time. Becoming pregnant forces Eve to widen her circle and she finds so many people who are willing to be part of her community. Becoming a mother isn’t going to leave her isolated, but surrounded by love and care.
CW: Unplanned pregnancy, infertility struggles, pregnancy loss in past, death of parents in past, fear of job insecurity.
I received this as an advance reader copy from Random House and NetGalley. My opinions are my own, freely and honestly given.