The Story of Lauren
Lauren is a first-grade teacher who is eagerly awaiting a call from the adoption agency that her dream of becoming a mother is coming true. She is the typical fun, enthusiastic, and caring teacher often depicted in books, television shows, and movies. Lauren has studied how to teach reading. In fact, the new substitute teacher, Joshua, is the son of George Avery who wrote her favorite reading books including Create a Reader in 30 Days and Reading Express for Kids (fictional books).
Lauren and Joshua quickly become friends. Friendship is all that Lauren wants because she is going to be adopting as a single mother. She does not want to start a relationship with Joshua, even though she is falling in love with him. Joshua, along with some of her other friends, stood by her as she prepared a nursery for her potential new child (even giving her advice on the color). They even shared Christmas together with his family. While there were changes to her adoption process, everything seems to be going right to push the two of them together. Readers see how many factors influence Lauren's decision to be a mother.
What Did I Think?
There were more than a few occasions when I was surprised with the turn of events in Before I Called You Mine. I thought I had worked out the next plot twist but was shocked with the next step. I enjoy books where things are not always what they seem.
I felt the characters were well developed and I really wish we had more time to spend with Lauren's family (even if they caused her trouble), the members of the adoption support group, and others. Even with the small amount of time spent with these individuals, I did feel like they came to life. In fact, the whole story came to life for me. The story was set in the fall and winter and including Thanksgiving and Christmas, and as a reader, it was effortless for me to imagine I standing alongside Lauren and Joshua as the Christmas tree was lit in the town square.
One of my favorite parts was when Joshua and Lauren went to Build-A-Bear to purchase bears for the little girls in their lives. Joshua, the man who wears a T-Rex shirt, picked out the dinosaur but Lauren was quick to ask if the dinosaur was the best choice. Wouldn't the sparkly pink unicorn one be better? We then followed them through the process of having the unicorns prepared for purchase. It was at this point that Lauren admitted that falling in love with Joshua was the easiest thing she had ever done.
My only problem came with an emphasis on public education. While I realize that Lauren is a first-grade teacher and this plays into why she connects so quickly with Joshua and his family, I did find it to be a bit too much as a homeschooling parent. (And I was a public school teacher before I became a homeschooling mom.) I was also a bit annoyed by a child at the beginning of the book characterizing The Boxcar Children as boring tales. (We see a scene where the children are taken for library time in the school. Apparently Lauren reads much more exciting tales than the librarian.) I feel like a real book series should not have been signaled out as boring.
Do I recommend Before I Called You Mine? Yes, I think it is a well-written story about the life of one woman seeking to adopt a child. Individuals who have adopted or are going through the adoption process may find the book interesting to read. The author, Nicole Deese, and her husband have themselves adopted. So even though this is not the story of their journey, it does allow insight into the adoption in the real world.
I am including this book in the AtoZ Reading Challenge for 2020.