This month, I have the pleasure of featuring a book that deals with a topic near and dear to my heart--that of the painful ordeal of infertility. During the summer, I named the first book in Elizabeth Maddrey's Remnants series, Faith Departed, as the best book of the month.
This month I'm naming the last novel in the series as the best book I've read in February.
Love Defined, the final piece of the Remnants trilogy by Elizabeth Maddrey, follows the harrowing ordeal of twin sisters' struggle with infertility and their quest to become parents. In the first book of the series, Faith Departed, June, July, and their husbands decide that now is the right time to start a family and assume that, like all the other couples around them, this plan will fall right into place according to their timing. When this doesn't happen for either of them, the sisters' faiths and marriages are shaken and tested. Their frustration and agony continues in the second book of the trilogy, Hope Deferred. In the third and final installment of the series, June and July's relationship as sisters is tried as they forge different paths, both struggling to decide what is best for their families. Do they accept and embrace a life with no children? What about adoption? What if adoption doesn't work out or they don't feel the desire to adopt? Do they seek out other possibilities? How do they trust God in the midst of so much pain, confusion, and heartache?
This is my favorite novel of the trilogy. Love Defined reveals, with such sensitivity and understanding, the heart-wrenching choices that must be made when, in the words of that great Scottish poet Robbie Burns, "the best laid plans of mice and men go awry." Not only are wives affected by the pain of infertility; husbands experience it acutely as well, but their feelings are too often minimized. Maddrey shows both sides of the coin, as June and July's husbands, Toby and Gareth, suffer differently but no less than the women. Enduring infertility is not for the faint of heart for women or for men.
Without giving anything away, the ending is beautiful--not because it's perfect, but because honesty and reality prevail. In the real world, even happy endings aren't spotless, and it's nice to see a Christian writer addressing this issue without sugar-coating or over-simplifying the complex issues and emotions involved. Infertility affects an entire community, not just the individual couple.
I highly recommend this book (and the entire trilogy) for anyone who has ever struggled or is currently struggling with infertility. This is also a wonderful read for anyone with a friend or family member currently enduring this painful process, as it might shed light on a situation that is tough to comprehend if you haven't gone through it.