THEN CAME YOU is Jennifer Weiner's 2011 addition to your summer beach bag. It is the quintessential beach read, filled with gossipy girls and romantic couples, babies and test tubes, and all the various elements of the confused female existence. While I believe Weiner goes one plot too far, ultimately she gives you a satisfyingly soapy story about one woman who wants a baby and all the other women who help her achieve this very important goal.
"The surrogate theme is a sticky yet contemporary idea that will definitely make sense to today's audience."
Of course, it's not a cut-and-dried, sitcom-type storyline. A myriad of characters with an array of problems populate THEN CAME YOU. There is a young woman in college who harvests her eggs for the money, but not for her own good --- for her addict daddy's benefit. There is a young mom with two kids who needs some extra dough, but causes turmoil in her marriage by agreeing to become a surrogate. There is the woman who wants a baby, a trophy wife who is experiencing trouble having one with her much-older and very successful husband.
And then there is the final piece of the puzzle: the daughter of the husband of the trophy wife, who decides that this chick is a gold digger who must be stopped at all costs. When she hires a detective, she finds out that this spray-tanned nightmare is actually someone very different from whom she purports to be in her new tony Manhattan land.
The idea of the village that it literally takes to create a baby, at least in this novel, is a great idea. The interspersed story lines are quite vivid and filled with flawed but funny characters. However, the one low point of the book occurs when the daughter is going after the trophy wife. In fact, the things that she finds out about her make us feel much greater sympathy towards her, so it probably works against Weiner's intent. Or does it? Perhaps she thought that just knowing the woman's story wasn't going to be enough to make us care about her. But the daughter just seems like a distraction to all the other storylines going on.
Jennifer Weiner is a successful and popular writer, and THEN CAME YOU will not disappoint her fans. It was nice to see her set a story in Manhattan, but this could have taken place anywhere and still had an impact. The surrogate theme is a sticky yet contemporary idea that will definitely make sense to today's audience. THEN CAME YOU is the offspring of some very good characters and plot lines, and is a book for which many a beachgoer will find room this summer in canvas bags all across the shores of the U.S. and beyond.