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Other People's Children

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Gail and Jon Durbin moved to the Chicago suburbs to set up house as soon as Gail got pregnant. But then she miscarried—once, twice, three times. Determined to expand their family, the Durbins turn to adoption. When several adoptions fall through, Gail’s desire for a child overwhelms her. Carli is a pregnant teenager from a blue-collar town nearby, with dreams of going to c Gail and Jon Durbin moved to the Chicago suburbs to set up house as soon as Gail got pregnant. But then she miscarried—once, twice, three times. Determined to expand their family, the Durbins turn to adoption. When several adoptions fall through, Gail’s desire for a child overwhelms her. Carli is a pregnant teenager from a blue-collar town nearby, with dreams of going to college and getting out of her mother’s home. When she makes the gut-wrenching decision to give her baby up for adoption, she chooses the Durbins. But Carli’s mother, Marla, has other plans for her grandbaby. In Other People’s Children, three mothers make excruciating choices to protect their families and their dreams—choices that put them at decided odds against one another. You will root for each one of them and wonder just how far you’d go in the same situation. This riveting debut is a thoughtful exploration of love and family, and a heart-pounding page-turner you’ll find impossible to put down.


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Gail and Jon Durbin moved to the Chicago suburbs to set up house as soon as Gail got pregnant. But then she miscarried—once, twice, three times. Determined to expand their family, the Durbins turn to adoption. When several adoptions fall through, Gail’s desire for a child overwhelms her. Carli is a pregnant teenager from a blue-collar town nearby, with dreams of going to c Gail and Jon Durbin moved to the Chicago suburbs to set up house as soon as Gail got pregnant. But then she miscarried—once, twice, three times. Determined to expand their family, the Durbins turn to adoption. When several adoptions fall through, Gail’s desire for a child overwhelms her. Carli is a pregnant teenager from a blue-collar town nearby, with dreams of going to college and getting out of her mother’s home. When she makes the gut-wrenching decision to give her baby up for adoption, she chooses the Durbins. But Carli’s mother, Marla, has other plans for her grandbaby. In Other People’s Children, three mothers make excruciating choices to protect their families and their dreams—choices that put them at decided odds against one another. You will root for each one of them and wonder just how far you’d go in the same situation. This riveting debut is a thoughtful exploration of love and family, and a heart-pounding page-turner you’ll find impossible to put down.

30 review for Other People's Children

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Clap! Clap! Clap! Long whistle! I don’t have enough words at my vocabulary to express my adoration for this book! It’s magnificent MASTERPIECE! It made me think so hard ! It made me cry! It made me pissed off! It made my heart pound too fast! It made me ache! I adored all those multiple voices and I enjoyed to read their different narrations! Interestingly you can’t take sides at this book because all of the characters are right from their own perspective. Sometimes truth can be subjective and m Clap! Clap! Clap! Long whistle! I don’t have enough words at my vocabulary to express my adoration for this book! It’s magnificent MASTERPIECE! It made me think so hard ! It made me cry! It made me pissed off! It made my heart pound too fast! It made me ache! I adored all those multiple voices and I enjoyed to read their different narrations! Interestingly you can’t take sides at this book because all of the characters are right from their own perspective. Sometimes truth can be subjective and multi dimensional! I can honestly say if I could grade this book with 10 stars or giving away the entire galaxy I would do with great pleasure! It’s heart wrenching, making you lose control of your emotions! It’s vicious stab to your heart! Your ugly tears start dropping without giving any warning! It’s also action packed, thrilling, making you sit at the edge of your seats. You just want to forget everything in your own life, hiding under a blanket like a protective cocoon and flipping the pages to find out what will happen to all those characters! Because honestly they all grow on you. Dear Gail who suffers from miscarriages, feeling abandoned by her own social circle, becoming estranged with her husband, sharpening knives as she keep gritting her teeth because only thing can make her happy is being a mother. Now she has a chance! She found a young girl who wants to give away her baby! Gail’s husband Jon wants to make his wife happy but he is scared because his bipolar mother couldn’t give him proper household when he was a young boy and his years at the trailer park give him second thoughts about difficulties to become an appropriate father who completely provides a little child’s needs! And poor 18 years old Carli, has been raised in a trailer by her cold hearted, bitchy mother, planning to be a nurse, taking her second chance to go to college for better future. Her sister and her own mother treat her mean so she cannot get her own family’s support to raise a child! Best thing is giving her to adoption, isn’t it? But what if she’s making a big mistake. Paige is the officer who arranges the paper works, coordinating everything work flawless during adoption process but some cases are still risky because young mothers can always change their minds after giving birth and keeping their babies! And Carli’s bitchy mother turns entire issue as a vendetta after having brief talk with Josh at the hospital. When she gets mad because of condescending looks and humiliating comments of Jon, she decides to put pressure on her daughter to keep her baby. Her boiling feelings get too far and turns into an obsession because she feels like all the wrong things she’s done and keep doing during she has been raising kids can be compensated by helping to raise her granddaughter! Well she was the most irritating character of the book. Even though you hate the guts of her, you may easily learn to empathize with her point! What if the mother of the child changes her mind and adopting parents want to keep the baby even though it means they have to leave the country and live like fugitives! Do you want to know what will happen to all those remarkable characters! Just read this amazing book! I do everything in my control to promote this amazing read! Because it’s not only great! It’s extraordinary! I’m so happy this fantastic read put this brilliant author on my radar! Special thanks to NetGalley and Simon& Schuster for sharing this freaking fantastic reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    This is a Contemporary/Women's Fiction . We follow a lot of different characters, but the storyline flows very well even with switching through the different characters point of views. I have to say if you are going through an adoption then this may not be the book for you. I loved that this book so all sides of an adoption. This book is so well written, and I loved the characters in this book. The ending was just ok, but the middle was everything. I was kindly provided an e-copy of this book by This is a Contemporary/Women's Fiction . We follow a lot of different characters, but the storyline flows very well even with switching through the different characters point of views. I have to say if you are going through an adoption then this may not be the book for you. I loved that this book so all sides of an adoption. This book is so well written, and I loved the characters in this book. The ending was just ok, but the middle was everything. I was kindly provided an e-copy of this book by the publisher (Simon & Schuster) or author (R. J. Hoffmann) via NetGalley, so I can give honest review about how I feel about this book. I want to send a big Thank you to them for that.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    3.5 stars The sadness a couple feels when they are unable to have a child of their own is portrayed in this story. Gail has had a number of miscarriages and she and her husband, Jon, are devastated. They decide to go the route of adoption, and when their qualifications are accepted by a teenage girl, Carli, it sets in motion a series of events that bring consequences that probably were somewhat evident. As we learn more of Cali, we find her living with her foul mouthed mother, Marla, who certainly 3.5 stars The sadness a couple feels when they are unable to have a child of their own is portrayed in this story. Gail has had a number of miscarriages and she and her husband, Jon, are devastated. They decide to go the route of adoption, and when their qualifications are accepted by a teenage girl, Carli, it sets in motion a series of events that bring consequences that probably were somewhat evident. As we learn more of Cali, we find her living with her foul mouthed mother, Marla, who certainly did not ever seem to have the credentials of being a fit mother to her two daughters. It as no wonder that Cali sought to give up her child to Gail and Jon to try and protect her from what Cali's life had been. There is a sensitive and understanding social worker who understands the stress and duress that all the parties are going through. As she waits for Cali to sign the final papers that will move the adoption to completion, there is soon to be trouble. The parties involved go through the various cycles of loss, grief, and anger. It's a tale that seems to have no viable conclusion where someone will walk away unscathed. This sad tale, while it did express the anguish the people felt, seemed to handle particular elements of the story in a light handed manner that just didn't make sense. It tended to go around and around trying to delay the inevitable that this reader knew was coming. However, the story, I am sure has played out many times in life, for a child, a wanted child, is the crux of what drives people at times. Thank you to R.J. Hoffman, Simon and Schuster, and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this story due out April 6, 2021.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    A very emotive story. I’ve looked at others reviews and I’ve no more to add to what it’s about as I’d only be giving more of the story away. I don’t want that as I’d love for you to read this yourselves. Infertility. Adoption. Things can go wrong. Mother’s. It’s an emotional read, complex and very taut between doing the right thing when emotions are at the fore. Loving this authors style of writing. Will be looking for more from her.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    I was lucky enough to have won a copy of Other People’s Children by R. J. Hoffmann in a goodreads give away. It was both a powerful and riveting debut book for this author. It explored the subjects of marriage, family, children, pregnancy, mothers and socioeconomic circumstances. Other People’s Children was heartbreaking, uplifting and even a bit suspenseful. It followed the path two women followed on their way to motherhood. The characters were believable and well defined. As a married couple, G I was lucky enough to have won a copy of Other People’s Children by R. J. Hoffmann in a goodreads give away. It was both a powerful and riveting debut book for this author. It explored the subjects of marriage, family, children, pregnancy, mothers and socioeconomic circumstances. Other People’s Children was heartbreaking, uplifting and even a bit suspenseful. It followed the path two women followed on their way to motherhood. The characters were believable and well defined. As a married couple, Gail and Jon, wanted desperately to become parents but they had suffered one miscarriage after another. Resigned that pregnancy was not something Gail would get to experience first hand, Gail and Jon decided to pursue the act of adoption. Then there was Carli. Carli was a young teenager working a menial job. She was lured by an infatuation with a boy who made empty promises and left her pregnant. She had decided to give her baby up for adoption even before she really knew she was pregnant. Carli had had high expectations for attending college. She did not want the life her mother lived. Her mother had been a single mother and was absent from most of Carli’s childhood. Carli wanted a better life for herself. She decided that she could not keep her baby and have a chance to live the life she desired. With no support from her family, Carli contacted an adoption agency and began the process of choosing adoptive parents. Carli ended up choosing Gail and Jon. Both Gail and Jon, as well as Carli, were happy with their arrangement. When Carli gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Gail and Jon were over the moon with happiness. They decided to name their new baby girl Maya. Carli refused to hold or look at her baby, that was until her mother made her look at her baby. “Its eyes were squeezed shut, and she could see a little bit of its tongue between its lips, and she smelled just a whiff of vanilla cream soda.” “That face made everything real in a way that terrified her, and she knew that the pain, even at its very worst, wouldn’t be able to help her forget.” Would Carli be able to go through with the adoption? Would the stars align for Gail and Jon and make them Maya’s parents? Adoption can be stressful, painful and joyous. It is not an easy process. Other People’s Children gave a first hand look at the process and the rollercoaster of emotions that both parties can experience. There was heartache, loss and even redemption. It explored the vastly different socioeconomic diversity between Gail and Jon and Carli and how that played on the outcome of the adoption. The decisions that both Gail and Carli both had to make were gut-wrenching. The ending was surprising but left room for more. I thought Other People’s Children was a really well written book from a debut author. I look forward to reading more books by this author and I highly recommend this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Laura Solar

    I don’t have kids. I don’t want kids. I have never really wanted kids. But this book about how far parents will go for their children is an incredibly emotional read that even childfree readers will be moved by. 🤱🏻🤰🏼 Gail and Jon Durbin are a married couple who desperately want a child. They’ve suffered multiple miscarriages and have been sending out their adoption book to no success. Finally, 18 year old Carli picks them to adopt her baby. Carli has a terrible home life, with an abusive mother a I don’t have kids. I don’t want kids. I have never really wanted kids. But this book about how far parents will go for their children is an incredibly emotional read that even childfree readers will be moved by. 🤱🏻🤰🏼 Gail and Jon Durbin are a married couple who desperately want a child. They’ve suffered multiple miscarriages and have been sending out their adoption book to no success. Finally, 18 year old Carli picks them to adopt her baby. Carli has a terrible home life, with an abusive mother and no real support system, so the decision to give up her baby wasn’t a hard one for her. But Carli’s mother Marla is against the adoption, and gives Carli an ultimatum before signing the final consent to give up her rights: reclaim the baby or find a new place to live. Meanwhile, Jon and Gail have fallen in love with the baby, and when they find out Carli intends to reclaim her daughter, they decide they will do whatever it takes to keep her... legal or not. 🤱🏻🤰🏼 This is a heartbreaker of a book, and you’ll somehow be rooting for and against every character. The books that tend to hit me the hardest are ones with no real “bad guy,” and while there are certainly characters in this book that are more likeable than others, I found my allegiances changing every chapter based on who the focus was. I found the writing to be beautiful and the story to be perfectly paced. All of the characters were well developed, and I really loved learning their stories and how each of their lived experiences effected their decisions. I loved everything about this emotional and suspenseful book, and I’d definitely recommend it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jessica | JustReadingJess

    Other People’s Children is a story about family with a couple adopting a baby from a teenager. Gail and Jon want a child but after struggling with infertility, they turn to adoption. Carli is a pregnant teenager that chooses to give her baby to them. Marla, Carli’s mom is very against Carli giving up the baby. The story is told through alternating perspectives. Everyone has very different opinions on family and what is best for the baby. The woman in charge of the adoption wants to make sure the Other People’s Children is a story about family with a couple adopting a baby from a teenager. Gail and Jon want a child but after struggling with infertility, they turn to adoption. Carli is a pregnant teenager that chooses to give her baby to them. Marla, Carli’s mom is very against Carli giving up the baby. The story is told through alternating perspectives. Everyone has very different opinions on family and what is best for the baby. The woman in charge of the adoption wants to make sure the baby ends up in the best home and thinks about her personal experiences. The character’s opinion on what they want changes throughout the book. Other People’s Children is emotional and really pulled me into the character’s stories. I recommend Other People’s Children for fans of books about family and adoption. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Michael David Axtell, Amanda Dolan, Madeleine Maby, Marni Penning, Tara Sands, and Pete Simonelli. All the narrators did a great job. I really enjoyed having a full cast of narrators to voice all the different characters and bring their personalities to life. Thank you Simon & Schuster Audio and Simon & Schuster for Other People’s Children. Full Review: https://justreadingjess.wordpress.com...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alanna

    A huge thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me this arc last week. Unfortunately I didn’t love it nearly as much as the V.P. & Editor in Chief did in her enclosed letter. Here’s why: First off-trigger warnings for miscarriage, infertility, adoption, verbal, and physical abuse. I never include warnings but if you are sensitive to these topics this book is not for you. Secondly, it was written by a man. Not to say that he couldn’t have experienced infertility, but the whole first half of the bo A huge thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me this arc last week. Unfortunately I didn’t love it nearly as much as the V.P. & Editor in Chief did in her enclosed letter. Here’s why: First off-trigger warnings for miscarriage, infertility, adoption, verbal, and physical abuse. I never include warnings but if you are sensitive to these topics this book is not for you. Secondly, it was written by a man. Not to say that he couldn’t have experienced infertility, but the whole first half of the book dealt with this and I had a hard time reading it knowing it was missing just a little something on these sensitive topics from the female perspective. I used to drink just any old tea. Then I learned about loose tea and unbleached bags, and became a tea snob. In similar fashion I used to read any old book. Now I dissect them and look for own voices, diversification and read with intention. I admit it; I have become a book snob. Despite what I just wrote, the first half had me hopeful for dialogue about these topics. As a woman who has dealt with infertility and miscarriage, I know I’m far from alone in these experiences, but they are still taboo topics and isolating times for many. When Jon and Gail can’t conceive, they turn to adoption and think this will be the answer, until twists are thrown their way. The second half takes on a different path, goes completely off the rails, and loses the purpose I was hoping for as an outcome of reading the story. I didn’t like the characters and felt they were all slightly underdeveloped or stereotypical. I love getting unexpected book mail and was thrilled to dive into this but it’s just a middle of the road three star read for me.

  9. 5 out of 5

    ʚϊɞ Shelley's ʚϊɞ Book Nook

    Oh this book...crushingly sad throughout. Yet, I loved this novel from start to end. It is authentic and a true treasure for those who are looking for more than just a good story. It is maybe one of the most no-nonsense novels I've ever read. And every woman who's ever had a miscarriage will identify and sympathise with Gail, yet I ended up being very angry with her....then learned to forgive her with all my heart. I mean the ride of emotions from this book and the tense situation Oh this book...crushingly sad throughout. Yet, I loved this novel from start to end. It is authentic and a true treasure for those who are looking for more than just a good story. It is maybe one of the most no-nonsense novels I've ever read. And every woman who's ever had a miscarriage will identify and sympathise with Gail, yet I ended up being very angry with her....then learned to forgive her with all my heart. I mean the ride of emotions from this book and the tense situation towards the end nearly gave me a heart attack. The characters emotions were penned beautifully, I really felt for all of them, what heartbreakingly sad decisions all around. I would call this book a couples journey...with so many ups and downs and it was described in a way that one can relate to with all the feels. Simply unbelievably dense, yet fantastically well written with a lovely, natural flow to it. All. The. Stars. Disclosure: Thank you NetGalley, R.J. Hoffmann, Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own. #NetGalley

  10. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    From the pages of OTHER PEOPLE'S CHILDREN comes a tale so very deeply moving the reader is wrenched from one character to another, each with clashing perspectives of what is right or should be. When the story is told from the perspective of Gail and Jon, a childless couple of more than adequate means, adoption is the bond that will bind them together into that perfect family they seek. Carli on the other end of the spectrum is the impoverished teen with a rough upbringing, but who is amazingly s From the pages of OTHER PEOPLE'S CHILDREN comes a tale so very deeply moving the reader is wrenched from one character to another, each with clashing perspectives of what is right or should be. When the story is told from the perspective of Gail and Jon, a childless couple of more than adequate means, adoption is the bond that will bind them together into that perfect family they seek. Carli on the other end of the spectrum is the impoverished teen with a rough upbringing, but who is amazingly smart and has dreams to go with it... just not the means. She is a pregnant teenager still living in her abusive and wistful mother, Marla’s home. Carli wonders through the pregnancy almost alone with the exception of her social worker, Paige, and Gail. She tries to focus on her future past the gut-wrenching decision to give the baby to the Durbins. Marla is incensed that Carli has chosen to give up her child and doesn't see her future more than her own, so I detected some jealousy that Carli might be able to rise above Marla's station in life. Marla plays it off that this is the chance she never had as a single mother... she seems to want to have a relationship with her grandchild, in fact, she longs for a better relationship and has the idea that this grandchild will provide it. Status and economic differences are drivers of Marla's anger about the Durbins almost to the extent that she wishes to withhold the child as a form of punishment to the Durbins. Her position to Carli is that she will regret this forever, right after she calls her names and hits her. This sets the stage for multiple sets of actions after the withdrawal of consent to adopt sends everyone into action to support their agenda without regard to the wellbeing, laws, or injury to others. The book jacket doesn't lie, I did root for more than one of them... The story is steady-paced, intriguing, and intense. It is a page-turner and one that is difficult to put down, just as the jacket promises... I think it might be one of the better reads so far this year... I can't recommend it enough! 5 stars Happy Reading!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    This is definitely a heart wrenching story, which is tough for every character. I struggled throughout the story with knowing which would be the best solution. It's a very though provoking an emotional read. This is definitely a heart wrenching story, which is tough for every character. I struggled throughout the story with knowing which would be the best solution. It's a very though provoking an emotional read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Guylou (Two Dogs and a Book)

    [image error] 📚 Hello Book Friends! OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN by R.J. Hoffmann was a very emotional read. A childless couple has the opportunity to adopt a baby girl. Their life is changed and when they face the risk of losing their precious little one, they will stop at nothing to protect her. The story is written in the voices of the adoptive parents, the mother, and the maternal grandmother. They each offer arguments about who should parent the child but, in the end, only one can be best for May [image error] 📚 Hello Book Friends! OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN by R.J. Hoffmann was a very emotional read. A childless couple has the opportunity to adopt a baby girl. Their life is changed and when they face the risk of losing their precious little one, they will stop at nothing to protect her. The story is written in the voices of the adoptive parents, the mother, and the maternal grandmother. They each offer arguments about who should parent the child but, in the end, only one can be best for Maya. The writing is beautiful and the story moving. This is a great debut for this author. There are several trigger warnings in this book: miscarriage, infertility, adoption, verbal, and physical abuse. #bookstadog #poodles #poodlestagram #poodlesofinstagram #furbabies #dogsofinstagram #bookstagram #dogsandbooks #bookishlife #bookishlove #bookstagrammer #books #booklover #bookish #bookaholic #reading #readersofinstagram #instaread #ilovebooks #bookishcanadians #canadianbookstagram #bookreviewer #bookcommunity #bibliophile #otherpeopleschildren #rjhoffmann #simonschusterca #simonschuster #bookreview

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    When I was about 40 pages in, I read the author's bio, assuming he was a lawyer or something who decided to try his hand at writing as a lark. I was surprised to see that he had an MFA in writing because this reads like someone who has never read a book before. Sorry that's mean but the writing is so bad. The plot is bad too. Oh and the characters? Also bad. I am only giving this two stars because giving one makes me feel like I'm kicking a puppy. When I was about 40 pages in, I read the author's bio, assuming he was a lawyer or something who decided to try his hand at writing as a lark. I was surprised to see that he had an MFA in writing because this reads like someone who has never read a book before. Sorry that's mean but the writing is so bad. The plot is bad too. Oh and the characters? Also bad. I am only giving this two stars because giving one makes me feel like I'm kicking a puppy.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Christian Bloomgren

    What did I just read? Other People’s Children, by R.J. Hoffmann, was not what I expected. The first half, (though SLOW) was what I bargained for when I purchased the book. A fictional drama about a couple yearning to start a family. Here is a brief synopsis. Gail & Jon Durbin have been facing infertility issues for quite some time. After several miscarriages, they choose to adopt a child. The Durbin’s connect with Paige from an adoption agency. With Paige’s help, the Durbin’s are introduced to C What did I just read? Other People’s Children, by R.J. Hoffmann, was not what I expected. The first half, (though SLOW) was what I bargained for when I purchased the book. A fictional drama about a couple yearning to start a family. Here is a brief synopsis. Gail & Jon Durbin have been facing infertility issues for quite some time. After several miscarriages, they choose to adopt a child. The Durbin’s connect with Paige from an adoption agency. With Paige’s help, the Durbin’s are introduced to Carli. Carli is a soon to be Mom placing her baby up for adoption. Carli comes from a troubled family, and has little to no support. The father of the baby has chosen not to be involved. In addition, Carli’s mother, Marla, is verbally abusive and certainly not a beacon of strength during such an emotionally difficult time. Each chapter of the book is told from a different character’s perspective. I liked this approach. It allows the reader to understand how each party involved in the adoption process is uniquely different in the way they think and feel. This format did an excellent job providing a good sense of the tension a marriage succumbs to when struggling through infertility. Unfortunately, I couldn’t connect to Carli and her mother Marla. Hoffman molded them into the typical teenager from a bad family stereotype, and I personally found the chapters they narrated annoying to read. I wish the author could have capitalized on a stronger emotional perspective from the birth mom’s point of view. Hoffman missed an opportunity to have the reader in turmoil over who to root for. I was hoping Hoffman would uncover a courageous birth mom who was struggling with a decision. Should she selflessly give her daughter up for adoption to provide her with a life she could not provide at this point in her life or take on the challenge of raising her daughter on her own when the odds were stacked against her? Instead, I felt Carli’s character was lost in a lackadaisical, wrong side of the tracks, teenage mold, and any chance of connection with her was lost. Midway through the novel, the story switches gears into a domestic crime/thrill ride, and though I appreciated the more exciting pace, I found the overall plot line far fetched. Without spoiling the plot, I can only say that multiple bad decisions exacerbated character flaws that negated my ability to engage in the overall story. I also wasn’t expecting a wild goose chase ending?! As a mother and a professional who has had experience in the world of adoption I was yearning for more of an emotional tale of motherhood pinpointing the sacrifices that are made for our children. This novel missed that deep emotional mark I was hoping to unearth. If you’re looking for an over-the-top tale about the lengths people will go to to protect their children and create a family read Other People’s Children. Unfortunately, this novel was not what my mama bear heartstrings set out to read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Leigh Ann

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I have to force myself to keep reading past the weird and sexist character descriptions. Carli is "almost pretty" as her face gets fatter? Gail is "pretty in a way that used to embarrass Jon"? Jon is "lanky in a manner that didn't appeal to many other women"? What do any of these even mean? In any case, with these types of descriptions that rely on vague beauty standards, the author makes it clear that he is a man writing. At times I found it hard to suspend disbelief. I don't understand why st I have to force myself to keep reading past the weird and sexist character descriptions. Carli is "almost pretty" as her face gets fatter? Gail is "pretty in a way that used to embarrass Jon"? Jon is "lanky in a manner that didn't appeal to many other women"? What do any of these even mean? In any case, with these types of descriptions that rely on vague beauty standards, the author makes it clear that he is a man writing. At times I found it hard to suspend disbelief. I don't understand why state workers wouldn't have investigated the house and discovered the laptop and journal with all the information they needed to find them. Instead, some rando is able to waltz in on behalf of Marla and get it for her. It doesn't make sense. I'm not sure how to feel about the ending. Gail is pregnant again, Carli has her baby, and Marla is under house arrest. I wasn't really rooting for any of the characters, and while I found Carli the most relatable and am happy for her, I still feel somewhat ambivalent. The baby herself was mostly just an object passed around throughout the story (as most real-life babies are just crying poop machines, I know, I know). Overall, I personally didn't feel much during the story. For the most part I was just trying to get it over with and find out who gets the baby in the end.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    This book took me by surprise. It read somewhat like a thriller instead of the literary read that I was expecting. It was a fast, engaging story that wrapped up a little too neatly and was a touch too melodramatic for me to have loved it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Powell

    Gail and Jon have suffered several miscarriages over the course of their marriage and have decided to adopt so they reach out to an agency who finds them a young college student named Carli, who picks them to adopt her baby. Carli comes from a rough family and dreams of making something of herself and that’s what prompts her decision to place her baby with Gail and Jon. The sadness radiates off the couple until the day that the baby is finally born and they actually get to hold her and name her Gail and Jon have suffered several miscarriages over the course of their marriage and have decided to adopt so they reach out to an agency who finds them a young college student named Carli, who picks them to adopt her baby. Carli comes from a rough family and dreams of making something of herself and that’s what prompts her decision to place her baby with Gail and Jon. The sadness radiates off the couple until the day that the baby is finally born and they actually get to hold her and name her and take her home and realize that they may actually finally have a baby. Carli’s mom doesn’t agree with the adoption and sets out to sabotage Carli’s plan, despite the hard working social worker who is taking care of the case. Everyone has different motives in this case and eventually it all breaks down and they all feel the aftershocks of grief and loss and trauma. Sad to think that this actually happens in real life. My only complaint, if you could call it that, is that the ending was a little lacking. After everything that had gone on, it wrapped up quickly and didn’t leave me satisfied but it may be just me. Thanks to Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for this arc in exchange for my review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    This was an exceptional book 📚! Dealing with the issues of miscarriage, adoption and the birth mother torn between putting a baby up for adoption and keeping the baby. Told from three points of view of three very people. The potential adoptive mother, the real mother and the maternal grandmother. A page turner I give this book 5 stars. Thank you to the publisher for the advance reader copy in exchange for my honest review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Katie Morrison

    In the spirit of full disclosure I read about 60% of this book, saw where it was going and then I read the final two chapters. This book was a bad stereotype all around. The baby crazed infertile woman, the young from the wrong side of the tracks mother, her mother who was “ain’t no one gonna raise my grandbaby”. If the event of adoption wasn’t so deeply misunderstood to so many, I might be able to read this story as a total work of fiction and leave it at that. But adoption is so nuanced and th In the spirit of full disclosure I read about 60% of this book, saw where it was going and then I read the final two chapters. This book was a bad stereotype all around. The baby crazed infertile woman, the young from the wrong side of the tracks mother, her mother who was “ain’t no one gonna raise my grandbaby”. If the event of adoption wasn’t so deeply misunderstood to so many, I might be able to read this story as a total work of fiction and leave it at that. But adoption is so nuanced and there are so many moving parts and so many choices that both the birth mother and the intended family have that I feel like this book gives a world of misinformation and bad stereotypes to what adoption actually is. I couldn’t get behind it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Lynn

    [2.5] A great start, and then... R.J. Hoffman's Other People's Children follows multiple characters through the adoption process: birth mother, Carli; Carli's mother, Marla; adoptive parents, Gail and Jon; and the adoption counselor, Paige. While I appreciated the different perspectives presented initially, I felt that the story fell flat by the end, for a couple reasons. 1. The characters themselves ended up feeling a bit stereotypical by the time the story concluded. Most pointedly, Carli and G [2.5] A great start, and then... R.J. Hoffman's Other People's Children follows multiple characters through the adoption process: birth mother, Carli; Carli's mother, Marla; adoptive parents, Gail and Jon; and the adoption counselor, Paige. While I appreciated the different perspectives presented initially, I felt that the story fell flat by the end, for a couple reasons. 1. The characters themselves ended up feeling a bit stereotypical by the time the story concluded. Most pointedly, Carli and Gail: Carli is an underachieving pregnant teenager, whereas Gail is a well-to-do, middle-aged woman who is borderline obsessed with achieving motherhood status. But the other characters as well: Marla is the typical picture of trailer trash, Jon is an emotionally constipated husband, and Paige is a well-meaning adoption counselor with a secret past (three guesses what it entails). While I recognize that obviously these types of people exist in actuality, the level of depth provided in Other People's Children was not sufficient for helping me, as a reader, see them beyond those stereotypes. 2. The twist was, frankly, lame. I didn't enjoy the direction that the story took about halfway through, and I didn't find it suspenseful. At best, I was mildly curious as to what the outcome would be. It's simply been overdone, and probably contributed to the issues with stereotypes described above. I was hoping for something a little more 'real'. This is a story about mothers, something that should have bearing for most readers, yet Hoffman choses such an inauthentic and trite plot. This is a shame especially because there are certainly some complicated mother-child relationships nestled within this book... (view spoiler)[Carli is neglected and abused by Marla, but knows little of the sacrifices that were made for her. Marla desperately wants Carli to have a better relationship with her own daughter. Gail is constantly at odds with her own obnoxious mother, who has clear opinions regarding what is was like to raise Gail, as well as Gail's infertility. Jon was raised by his aunt and has not seen or spoken to his birth mother since he was a child, which contributes to his deeply seated fear of not being cut out for parenthood. And Paige was a pregnant teen herself, set up for an adoption by her own mother, who she is now estranged from given that she backed out on that adoption after she gave birth. Lots of dynamic here, and each very unique. (hide spoiler)] A deeper exploration of those relationships in wake of the major adoption events may have felt more realistic (and been more interesting imo). All in all, I was a bit disappointed here, but can't discount that I was initially intrigued and impressed. Will keep my eye out for future works to see if they fare better.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sabine

    I don't remember reading an almost 400 page long book in a day in a while but this one made it easy. For me, it really was a compulsive read. It was really enjoyable and fast paced but also dark and disturbing as well as depressing at times. The book is a fantastic character study of five people--a social worker for an adoption agency, a birth mom, her mother and the couple who wants to adopt the baby. Carli finds herself pregnant by her "meth head boyfriend" and decides it is too much to raise I don't remember reading an almost 400 page long book in a day in a while but this one made it easy. For me, it really was a compulsive read. It was really enjoyable and fast paced but also dark and disturbing as well as depressing at times. The book is a fantastic character study of five people--a social worker for an adoption agency, a birth mom, her mother and the couple who wants to adopt the baby. Carli finds herself pregnant by her "meth head boyfriend" and decides it is too much to raise a baby at 18 without parental support or support from a partner, no money, no education, etc. Her mother is very unsupportive and arguably the most horrible character in this book. I pictured Ursula from the little mermaid the whole time whenever her mom, Marla, was mentioned. The couple adopting them have been through a few pregnancies and miscarriages (if you have had this experience yourself, you will likely not want to read this book as it will probably be too much) and are now ready to apply for adoption. Gail is obsessed with getting a baby and her husband Jon plays along because it is so paramount to her. The couple has a lot of issues and maybe bringing a baby into their relationship will only add more stress, but who knows? Of course Carli's mother starts a verbal altercation with Jon outside the delivery room and Jon is arrogant enough to engage instead of just allowing her to vent and makes Marla so mad she swears to get him back. And here's your complication. (slight SPOILER ALERT HERE) Because arrogant Jon made some foolish remarks, vindictive Marla now vows to get her grandbaby back and convinces Carli not to sign her final adoption release so they can reclaim the baby. And after Carli reclaims her baby all hell breaks loose and this character study turns thriller very quickly. I LOVED this book. It was SO GOOD and well written (with a few SMH moments: the author is a man who should have talked to a new mom or a nurse or OBGYN to get himself up to speed on labor and delivery and post partum but it was only a minor flaw) . Anyway, this was really a very suspenseful unputdownable read for me and I loved spending my Sunday with this book!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Full of Lit

    I really liked the storyline of this book. I found it to be very relatable as a mother, and also just from putting myself in the place of Gail. The subject matter is tricky and I’m not sure there are every any winners in a situation like this. A child being given up for adoption and a mother having the right to take that child back (for 6 months in some cases) has long been something I have thought about. I’m sure a lot of people will take sides in this book. I did. The ending was bittersweet. T I really liked the storyline of this book. I found it to be very relatable as a mother, and also just from putting myself in the place of Gail. The subject matter is tricky and I’m not sure there are every any winners in a situation like this. A child being given up for adoption and a mother having the right to take that child back (for 6 months in some cases) has long been something I have thought about. I’m sure a lot of people will take sides in this book. I did. The ending was bittersweet. The only negative in this book for me was the dialogue of Carli and more so Marla. The author seemed to go out of her way to let the reader know that Carli and Marla were what is described in the book as “poor white trash” and that didn’t work for me. I thought it could’ve been written better and there needed to be more character development with Carli and Marla as well as their part or the story. Thank you in advance to netgalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This book was heavy and so, so heartbreaking. The dual perspectives made both sides of adoption really shine. This was spectacularly written. My heart was warmed and broken over and over again. I was completely hooked and invested in the story... until the end. Unfortunately the book took a turn for the unbelievable and reached epic proportions. Overall though, this was a beautiful book and made me look at adoption from both sides differently. My thanks to the publisher for the advance reader in This book was heavy and so, so heartbreaking. The dual perspectives made both sides of adoption really shine. This was spectacularly written. My heart was warmed and broken over and over again. I was completely hooked and invested in the story... until the end. Unfortunately the book took a turn for the unbelievable and reached epic proportions. Overall though, this was a beautiful book and made me look at adoption from both sides differently. My thanks to the publisher for the advance reader in exchange for my honest review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn ONeill

    One of the silliest, poorly written novels that I have recently read. Did Mr. Hoffman consult any law enforcement agencies concerning kidnapping and its consequences for the people who cross state lines before adoptions are finalized. Additionally, can he describe Maya in any other way by how she smells? "Milk duds, vanilla, pears"......stink is one of his favorite words. It is not a bad premise. The pain of losing a child, on both sides of the coin, could be an arresting account of people experi One of the silliest, poorly written novels that I have recently read. Did Mr. Hoffman consult any law enforcement agencies concerning kidnapping and its consequences for the people who cross state lines before adoptions are finalized. Additionally, can he describe Maya in any other way by how she smells? "Milk duds, vanilla, pears"......stink is one of his favorite words. It is not a bad premise. The pain of losing a child, on both sides of the coin, could be an arresting account of people experiencing unbelievable pain. I am sorry that he didn't do it justice.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    A delightful read/listen by local author, R J Hoffman! A masterfully intertwined story of hope and heartbreak. Love how Hoffman portrayed adoption, parenthood, dreams, and life challenges all into one beautifully written story. There were many Chicago locale references which was fun to hear. Hope he writes another book soon!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Annie Sewell

    As of April 2021, this has been the best book I have read this year.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ramona Mead

    I'm childless by choice and generally not affected much by plot lines about parenting and kids, but this novel absolutely ripped my heart out. More than once. Hoffman does an incredible job portraying human pain and suffering. That's what resonated with me throughout. On the surface, it's a story about a childless couple adopting from a pregnant teen. But ultimately it's about how each character deals with their pain. Some turn inward, others lash out. The ways they interacted with each other wa I'm childless by choice and generally not affected much by plot lines about parenting and kids, but this novel absolutely ripped my heart out. More than once. Hoffman does an incredible job portraying human pain and suffering. That's what resonated with me throughout. On the surface, it's a story about a childless couple adopting from a pregnant teen. But ultimately it's about how each character deals with their pain. Some turn inward, others lash out. The ways they interacted with each other was constantly interesting. The writing is skilled and emotional. The storyline is compelling from the start. I listened to the audiobook and liked how each narrator gave their character some personality. The only thing keeping this from being a five star read for me was that I was left wanting more. I highly recommend this one for readers of literary fiction and women's fiction.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Siobhan

    Wow this book was amazing! I really hope this author publishes another book!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Janilyn Kocher

    Other People’s Children is an emotional read. Gail is desperate for a child and her husband Jon is scared to be a dad. Carli decides on them to adopt her baby, but her mother decides something different. I couldn’t believe the decision Gail and Jon made since it would essentially ruin their lives. The only person I liked in the novel was Carli. I think she was the only honest person and just trying to do what was best. Marla was a nightmare. It’s amazing to what extent some people will go to hav Other People’s Children is an emotional read. Gail is desperate for a child and her husband Jon is scared to be a dad. Carli decides on them to adopt her baby, but her mother decides something different. I couldn’t believe the decision Gail and Jon made since it would essentially ruin their lives. The only person I liked in the novel was Carli. I think she was the only honest person and just trying to do what was best. Marla was a nightmare. It’s amazing to what extent some people will go to have a child and also being plain reckless. Thanks to edelweiss, NetGalley, and Simon and Schuster for the advance read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Happy pub day! 4/6/21 The only thing better than book mail is unexpected book mail! I am immensely grateful to Simon and Schuster for my review copy!

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