BOOK TOUR REVIEW: Leaving Haven by Kathleen McCleary
by Kathleen McCleary
Georgia Bing and Alice Kinnaird have always been there for each other. Eager to help her best friend have another baby after several miscarriages, Alice donates one of her eggs. When Georgia learns she’s going to have the baby boy she’s always wanted, she’s thrilled—until a devastating discovery destroys her dreams.
While Alice is happy to help her friend get pregnant, she also feels a twinge of disappointment that her own life is missing something . . . something she desperately craves. On the surface, Alice has everything—a busy social life, a great job, a faithful husband, an amazing teenage daughter. But her well-ordered world is knocked off its axis when she’s tempted by a forbidden passion that threatens the bonds of friendship, marriage, and motherhood that sustain her.
As the safety of their past is shattered, Georgia and Alice must embark on journeys of self-discovery—odysseys filled with surprising challenges that will test them and force them to confront the truth about their lives . . . and the choices they’ve made.
I am a mother, first and foremost, so I was definitely intrigued by a book that had a mother leaving her baby the day after giving birth. When I read how much the woman, Georgia, wanted the baby, it made even less sense to me that she would abandon him. But as the book delved deeper into the reasons for Georgia’s actions, it became clear to me that she was a very broken woman indeed.
Georgia and Alice have been best friends for 13 years–until something happens that shatters both of their families. Both women’s lives are thrown into upheaval, but they way they handle things is totally different. Georgia is creative, impulsive, but a fiercely loving mother; so it’s completely unlike her to just up and leave the son she’s been trying to have for over 10 years. Alice is meticulous, a planner. She clings to her child and husband with all she’s got. But it’s not enough.
Obviously, there is a huge reveal in this book that I do not want to spoil for you, so I’m kind of dancing around it. The story is told from both Alice and Georgia’s points of view, so we get each woman’s thoughts on what happened and how they are dealing with it. Both are mothers to now teenage girls who are friends. That’s one of the only things they have in common, yet their friendship has endured to this point. I liked both Georgia and Alice; I just thought each had their flaws. As a mother, it’s easy for me to say, “How could you leave your baby?” But there are so many extenuating circumstances, I am not sure what I would have done if I were in Georgia’s place.
I liked that the writing was rather straightforward. There was some exposition, but no long flowery paragraphs that made me want to skim over them. The writing was at times as raw as the women’s feelings–you felt what each of them were feeling, even though they were on opposite sides, you could relate to their thoughts.
I also thought the title was very clever. Each woman is leaving a haven of their own. Georgia, literally, as the baby was named Haven. Alice begins to resent the safe haven she has in her husband and her predictable life.
This was a great read with plenty of heartfelt moments. The ending leaves things open and messy, but that’s real life in these kinds of situations.
About the Author
Kathleen McCleary is a journalist and author whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Ladies’ Home Journal, More, and Good Housekeeping. Her second novel, A Simple Thing (2012), was recently nominated for the Library of Virginia Literary Awards. She has taught writing as an adjunct professor at American University and now teaches with Writopia Labs. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband and two daughters.