Expecting Adam – Martha Beck


 This book is one that will either resonate deep inside the reader; or seem like complete drivel. Luckily I was a reader in the former category.

 The story is simply the recounting of Martha Beck’s difficult pregnancy with her second child, and only son, Adam. But it is anything but simple. Martha and her husband John are Harvard academics; they hail from a society in which the pursuit of perfection and recognition is all that matters. They are both on their way up to the top of their personal pyramid, their own spot near the water spigot.

 And then they find out that Adam is a Downs Syndrome child; a ‘retarded, imperfect’ foetus. The reactions of their community to their decision to keep the baby are heart breaking and horrifically superficial.  

 In addition to dealing with the real life issues of a terrible sounding pregnancy, the future with a Downs baby, pressure from colleagues and professors and the entire Harvard community, Martha and John also deal with some very interesting ethereal influences in their lives.  It is at the inclusion of these bits that some readers may get lost. If they give up on the book because of the oddness of the concept of angels, they will be missing out on a really interesting and entertaining read.

 Martha never tries to convince the reader of anything; she simply tells the story as she experienced it. Neither she nor John expected any kind of divine intervention; and even after they had both experienced some very odd things, it took them a while to tell even each other.

 I did struggle through bits of this book, and i believe in what Martha says happened. For people who struggle with the concept of otherworldly influences in our lives, these bits may be hard to stomach. And in some ways, that is exactly why these readers should read the book. When facing all this weird stuff going on in her life, Martha decides to stop disbelieving things until they are proved, but rather to believe everything is possible unless proved not. She is liberated by this way of seeing the world; by no longer believing she is in control but rather just letting things be.  But, as i have said, she in no ways tries to claim her way is the absolute right way but rather just that it’s the way that makes sense to her.

 Overall, this is a book worth reading. It will certainly make you question what you consider normal and why. Which is exactly what Martha says having Adam did for her and her husband.