Tuesday, September 17, 2013

An Accidental Life by Pamela Binnings Ewen

It is 1982 New Orleans. Women can do just about anything they want, including breaking into all kinds of careers. And they don't have to worry about a baby getting in the way - it has been nine years since Roe v. Wade.

Ewen has created a great juxtaposition of two pregnant women. Rebecca has just become one of the two first women partners in a prestigious law firm when she finds out she is pregnant. When she tells Peter, a senior prosecutor, he is overjoyed. But she wonders how she will continue her work in the law firm.

Teen-aged Glory Lynn has come into a women's clinic for an abortion. She had hopes of marrying the man but he has left her alone. She knows her life would be ruined with a baby. She's waited until her twenty second week, or maybe twenty third.

The abortion goes bad when there is a life birth. When the mother hears the baby cry, her life is changed. She wants her baby – alive. But the doctor instructs the nurse to take the baby away, to a utility room to die. Glory Lynn goes to the authorities asking that charges be brought against the doctor. Peter is given the case to prosecute and he decides to go for second degree murder.

The first half of the novel was slow. But the second half is a page turner. The novel centers around the live birth and the charge brought against the abortion doctor. A live birth was not something addressed by Roe v. Wade so we don't know how the trial will come out. I did feel that the law firm making so many allowances for Rebecca's pregnancy was unrealistic, considering other legal thrillers I've read.

In the Author's Notes, Ewen says there are thousands of infants alive today who have survived abortions. She includes testimony of a registered nurse given to a House committee in 2001. Although a federal law was passed (covering federal hospitals) and several states have passed laws protecting infants of live birth, it remains an ongoing horror.

This is a good novel, refreshing our minds again of the issues surrounding abortion.

Pamela Ewen practiced law for twenty-five years before penning novels. Her novel The Moon in the Mango Tree won the Eudora Welty memorial Award in the 2012 Biennial Letters competition. Her third novel, Dancing on Glass, won the 2012 Single titles Reviewers Choice Award and was a Christy Award finalist. She lives near New Orleans, Louisiana. You can find out more at www.pamelaewen.com.

B & H Books, 368 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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