Emma Bronfman had big plans - marry young, have a couple of kids by thirty, and still have time to pursue a career as a photographer. But few of her plans have worked out. After Emma’s mother dies of lung cancer, she feels adrift and unable to achieve her career goals. She does get married, but it is not the perfect marriage she had hoped it would be. Worst of all, Emma is unable to get pregnant, even after years and years of trying. At thirty-five, she remains childless and worries that her life and prospects for a family will never improve.
My Little One, a novel by Nancy Machlis Rechtman, covers the heartache of infertility in acute detail, bringing to life the difficulties that women who are unable to conceive must go through. Yet the novel is about more than just not being able to get pregnant. True, Emma’s biggest problem stems from her inability to have children. But she also questions what it means to grow older, to lose people she loves, and how to find meaning in her everyday existence. The author creates a deeply complex character trapped by her own sorrow, who says and does things that she herself condemns even as she does them. She is surrounded by a unique cast of friends and family, none of whom fit completely into a stereotype or are easily labeled as good or bad. Like life itself, the characters in My Little One cannot be easily categorized.
Alas, the book ends too soon. Anne Tyler once said that she knows her books are over when her main character has gone as far as he or she can go on their journey. Emma doesn’t seem anywhere near the end of her journey when her story ends, and it leaves the reader frustrated, wanting some sort of resolution to the many conflicts that have been established.
My Little One is otherwise an engrossing story, both entertaining and thought-provoking. It can be read in a single sitting – but not without a box of Kleenex by your side.