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Review: Inconceivable

April 26, 2011

Carolyn and Sean Savage met in college and quickly became close.  They married and knew right away that they wanted a large family and had two boys fairly quickly.  When they had trouble conceiving again,  they turned to in vitro fertilization (IVF) and were lucky enough to have a little girl.  The pregnancy and delivery were difficult for Carolyn, but she and Sean felt that every embryo they had frozen deserved the right to life.  When their baby girl was just over a year old, Carolyn returned to the clinic to go through another round of IVF.

When the Savages discovered that the latest treatment was successful they were ecstatic, but their world came crashing down on them a few days later when they were told that someone else’s embryo had mistakenly been implanted in Carolyn.  Since they’re opposed to abortion, the Savages decided that Carolyn would carry the baby to term and then turn it over to its birth parents.

Inconceivable: A Medical Mistake, the Baby We Couldn’t Keep, and Our Choice to Deliver the Ultimate Gift by Carolyn and Sean Savage is the story of the ordeal they suffered through in 2009.  Even though the title of the book gives most of the story away, I found this book oddly compelling when I first started it.  I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to find yourself in a situation like that and wondered how the Savages would cope with it.

Pretty soon, though, the book turned to following the couple to every counseling session and Carolyn to every doctor’s appointment, which didn’t hold my interest the same way.  I found Carolyn’s obsession with the unborn baby somewhat unsettling and I wondered how it affected the Savage children.  (The children are mentioned some, but their feelings are never really expressed.)  The Savages called themselves “devoted” parents, yet they seemed to be totally focused on the unborn child.

I admire the Savages for living their faith and not terminating the pregnancy but, to be honest, I found their portrayal of the story to be too saccharine at times.  I wanted them to get angry or to say something bad, but they never did.  I listened to the audio version of this book and the one time it was on while Carl was in the car with me, he asked me to turn it off and said, “people don’t talk like that or think that way.”

I liked Inconceivable a lot,  but I didn’t love it.  I do think it would make a fabulous book club pick, though, because there is so much to discuss in it.  I think a few of my friends and family were really glad when I was through with the book because they were tired of hearing me talk about it.

The audio version of the book is narrated by Cassandra Campbell and Danny Campbell and they did a good job.  I think I enjoyed Cassandra’s narration more.  I’m not sure either will go on my favorite narrators’ list, but their voices were fine for this book.

Review copy provided by Harper Collins.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
41 Comments leave one →
  1. April 26, 2011 6:04 am

    I liked that comment. “Wanted them to say something unsettling or…..” What an experience to live through.

  2. April 26, 2011 6:42 am

    I like Cassandra Campbell a lot as a reader. I probably would never read this book, but I did like reading your thoughts.

  3. April 26, 2011 7:37 am

    I love Cassandra as a narrator. But I had read one other review of this book (I can’t remember who…Jeane?) and they said the same thing that you did. The attitudes just felt too “off” when it was said and done.

  4. April 26, 2011 7:42 am

    Great review! An interesting story to be sure, but not one I would read, I think. I also find it interesting that this couple went through this event in 2009 and two years later they managed to publish a book about this trauma! That’s much more resilient that I could be.

  5. April 26, 2011 8:23 am

    have to agree it sounds like it would make a grand book club book, with lots of lively discussion.

  6. April 26, 2011 8:34 am

    Hmmm, I thought their portrayal was honest. I think that’s what I liked about it. Interesting that we have different perspectives, but I wonder if any of that could be attributed to an audiobook vs. traditional.

  7. April 26, 2011 8:37 am

    I totally understand what you mean about how “perfect” they seemed. I know I give them a tremendous amount of credit for what they did, but I would have to doubt the lack of anger.

  8. April 26, 2011 8:52 am

    What a horrible thing to happen to someone! I know I wouldn’t be holding back in my feelings about the subject matter – otherwise, you’re right, it just might not seem so genuine without the anger and, basically, all of those emotions!

  9. April 26, 2011 9:02 am

    Wow, what a story. I can’t imagine how I would react!

  10. April 26, 2011 9:22 am

    It’s an amazing story. I either saw or heard an interview with the authors quite a while ago – can’t imagine going through it.

  11. April 26, 2011 9:57 am

    I can’t imagine being in their situation either, but it sounds like their story would actually annoy me. They sound just too good to be true.

  12. April 26, 2011 10:03 am

    I’ve seen them do the talk show circuit and have been amazed at what they did. I don’t know what I would do. But, I think I understand what you mean about being too “perfect” about the situation. I haven’t read the books but even in interviews I noticed they never seemed angry. If this in honestly who they are, then they are even more remarkable then I give them credit for.

  13. April 26, 2011 10:05 am

    I have read some other less than stellar reviews of this one as well, and think from the way you’ve described it, it sounds sort of unrealistic. I am not sure I would read this one, based on the subject matter alone, but it was interesting reading your thoughts on it.

  14. April 26, 2011 11:09 am

    I’ve been wondering about this book for awhile now. What they did was amazing but I think you’re right that the authors should have expressed some negativity about the situation – that would have been natural.

  15. April 26, 2011 11:46 am

    What a horrible thing to go through for any couple. I would think it would be natural to have some anger/frustration. I enjoyed reading your review but I’m not compelled to pick this one up.

  16. April 26, 2011 12:28 pm

    I do know some people who talk like that (very saccharine) – everything is positive and wonderful, but you’re right in saying that it doesn’t seem real. I would guess that even if that is the way they feel, that they may have other feelings buried inside that they are either unaware of or choose not to articulate.

  17. April 26, 2011 12:30 pm

    Nice review, and for once, yes truly not the book for me. But then again perhaps the book for me if I ever had to go through something like that

  18. April 26, 2011 12:51 pm

    Great review and what a story.

  19. April 26, 2011 12:59 pm

    It’s difficult to review non-fiction stories like this one. While I can’t imagine what the Savage family has been through, it would be hard to keep from sounding judgemental while giving my opinion on the book. You gave a fair and thoughtful review. Thank you.

  20. April 26, 2011 1:21 pm

    Sounds like a thought-provoking book! I don’t think I would have been able to read the book though. Great review!

  21. April 26, 2011 1:34 pm

    My gosh, what a horrible situation to find themselves in.

  22. April 26, 2011 1:35 pm

    It’s hard to believe that they express any anger about such a horrible situation. Sounds like a book that offers much food for thought, though I don’t think it’s for me.

  23. April 26, 2011 2:08 pm

    Wonderful, honest review Kathy. It sounds like a touching book.

  24. April 26, 2011 5:04 pm

    I actually saw a DATELINE special on this couple and I was shocked by the mixup. The Savages were incredibly courageous and I felt just as horrible for the other family involved. The whole special made me curious and now your review just hit the spot of curiosity I had.

  25. April 26, 2011 5:14 pm

    I loved Carl’s comment. Yes, some people do talk that way but they are very rare.

  26. April 26, 2011 5:15 pm

    wow. you don’t hear about that happening every day! when i first started reading your review, i thought it would be something i would enjoy reading, but after reading your thoughts about it, i think i’ll pass on it. thanks for the honest review!

  27. April 26, 2011 5:25 pm

    Oh yah I feel ya. That would make me mad. It does sound good but awful sweet.

  28. April 26, 2011 7:42 pm

    A very well written and balanced review. I do think I made the correct choice in passing this one up.

  29. April 26, 2011 9:53 pm

    While I’m beginning to like reading Memoirs I’m not too sure if i would pick this one up. The couple sound a little too pristine. I too would enjoy learning about the hard times during their ordeal because stuff like that gives the story character. Thanks for your review though.

  30. April 27, 2011 12:02 am

    What a horrific situation! It makes me scared to try IVF. It’s too bad they seemed to withhold their really feelings about it.

  31. April 27, 2011 1:57 am

    Nice review. I doubt I could be as nice about that kind of mistake as these people were.

  32. April 27, 2011 12:06 pm

    This book sounds fascinating and the Savages story is certainly touching but I agree with you that it’s hard to believe they never got angry or intensely upset at this injustice. It’s difficult to believe they are sincere if they don’t admit to how they really & truly felt.

  33. April 27, 2011 7:20 pm

    I saw them both on the Today Show and they were still torn by this experience…they said they would be forever…so sad…a lovely review, Kathy…

  34. stacybuckeye permalink
    April 27, 2011 9:32 pm

    What an impossible thing to go through. I cannot even imagine. From your review I get the sense that maybe it wouldn’t get the depth I would want out of the story. I applaud their selflessness though.

  35. April 28, 2011 1:03 pm

    Not the right book for me at the moment..but even so not sure I’m interested in it. Well, I’m interested in the story, but the reasons you list of things that bothered you are things that would annoy me. lol

  36. April 28, 2011 1:27 pm

    I remember hearing some buzz around this a while ago. It sounds heartbreaking – it’s not something I can imagine being in the position of either.

  37. April 28, 2011 2:21 pm

    I think this would make a great read for those who can relate to what happened with this couple. I appreciated your thoughts on it Kathy.

  38. April 29, 2011 2:21 pm

    I could see that you might wonder where the not so pretty emotions were hiding on there. I just can’t imagine having a mistake like that!

  39. April 29, 2011 3:11 pm

    Hmmm…I guess I need to listen to our own book b/c I’m guessing that some of our “angrier moments” must have come out sounding nice? Funny, because some of the reviewers that actually read the book have come down on us for being too angry. I’m intrigued. Guess I need to listen to these narrators, but from the way this review reads, it doesn’t sound like they did our emotions justice.

  40. April 30, 2011 5:53 am

    I can’t imagine doing what this couple did. How hard it must have been to carry that baby and then give it away. But, kudos to them for being so dedicated to their faith. I’m sorry it wasn’t a good read though, I don’t know that I’d be able to listen to it based on your description.

  41. Angie S. permalink
    May 5, 2011 9:12 am

    i agree with you that this would bring about some very good book club discussions. And contrary to what most of your reader’s comments are, I think I would like to read this book.

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