Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Book Review: Mother of Invention, by Caeli Wolfson Widger

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Five years after she’d released the baby for adoption, when Irene was living in Austin and working as a glorified secretary for a nondescript financial services company, having never returned to Yale, she saw the ad in the Houston Chronicle:

        Config Labs, prominent Bay Area startup conducting a study on the phenomenon of “accelerated gestation,” seeks female volunteers who have experienced full-term pregnancies in a fraction of the typical 40 weeks. Submit a relevant skin cell sample from you and/or your baby and receive an instant stipend. See to learn more.

The language was dry and clinical, but it made Irene weep. Until she’d read it, she hadn’t realized just how profoundly lonely her experience had left her. She’d gradually become aware of other accounts of fast pregnancies as a handful of women came forward with their stories, but until she’d seen that ad in the Chronicle, on a bright winter morning in Texas, she’d still felt alone.

What if a normal, healthy baby could be born after nine WEEKS of pregnancy instead of nine months? Has it already happened??

Official synopsis:
Book Review: Mother of Invention, by Caeli Wolfson Widger
Meet Silicon Valley executive Tessa Callahan, a woman passionate about the power of technology to transform women’s lives. Her company’s latest invention, the Seahorse Solution, includes a breakthrough procedure that safely accelerates human pregnancy from nine months to nine weeks, along with other major upgrades to a woman’s experience of early maternity.

The inaugural human trial of Seahorse will change the future of motherhood―and it’s Tessa’s job to monitor the first volunteer mothers-to-be. She’ll be their advocate and confidante. She’ll allay their doubts and soothe their anxieties. But when Tessa discovers disturbing truths behind the transformative technology she’s championed, her own fear begins to rock her faith in the Seahorse Solution. With each new secret Tessa uncovers, she realizes that the endgame is too inconceivable to imagine.

Caeli Wolfson Widger’s bold and timely novel examines the fraught sacrifices that women make to succeed in both career and family against a backdrop of technological innovation. It’s a story of friendship, risk, betrayal, and redemption―and an unnerving interrogation of a future in which women can engineer their lives as never before.

Tessa Callahan has never felt a real calling to be a mother, and even less so when she realizes how much pregnancy and mothering takes from the rest of the life of the mother. Sure, there are exceptions, but the majority of the inconveniences are not usually experienced by a father. When her husband wants to be a father, and claims he will do all the necessary work once she actually has the baby, she eventually warms to the idea, but nature is not on their side. She goes back to devoting all of her time to her successful career, not admitting that she’s a bit relieved to not have the questionable responsibility of a pregnancy and child.

She is enthusiastic when she’s able to work with a business partner to get all the way to a trial for accelerated gestation—women getting pregnant and delivering a full-term baby in just nine weeks! She works closely with the first three mothers-to-be and is genuinely happy for them to be fulfilling their dream of motherhood, without nine months away from their own successful lives. 

Unbeknownst to Tessa, the mothers and offspring of some spontaneous cases of accelerated gestation decades earlier may have different stories about the experience. Irene and Vivian have tales to tell, but the people listening may not be the audience who needs to know the truth. 

The different viewpoints in this book were fascinating. Tessa and her cohort of mothers-to-be knew there were risks, but didn’t realize there were stories similar to theirs that should be studied. The mothers and children of the accelerated gestation that occurred previously were being heard from less and less, but perhaps their experience could help those embarking on the same path with Tessa’s help. 

Overall, this story was definitely 4 out of 5 stars and a great science-fiction story of dystopian possibilities. It could be recommended to those who appreciate strong, smart female characters, womens’ studies, and speculative fiction novels. 

{click here to purchase} 

Becki Bayley was born on a Tuesday, 50+ years ago. She enjoys traveling the world and the universe from the comfort of wherever she really is, by reading books. Check out more of where she’s been and what she’s read on Instagram, where she posts as PoshBecki


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