** Publication Date 7 May 2019 **
In a world where just about everything is for sale, would you carry a baby if you could afford to have someone carry it for you? The Farm is a lovely estate where young women act as surrogates for wealthy clients. Clients that either cannot or choose not to bear their own children. It is almost dystopian in its approach to surrogacy, but considering I know so little about surrogacy, it wouldn’t surprise me to know places such as this exist.
Golden Oaks is a beautiful estate in New York that exists solely as an incubator for babies. IVF babies that are carried by “hosts”, young women specifically selected by Mae, the Farm’s master, based on selective criteria. Most come from impoverished backgrounds, but there are VIP hosts. These VIP hosts come from better quality backgrounds and higher level educations and cost more if you choose one of them to carry your fetus. Golden Oaks looks really pretty from the outside, just as the cashmere loungewear the hosts are given upon arrival. However, dark secrets and practices lurk at The Farm.
In the novel, we meet Jane, a young Filipino woman who is estranged from her husband and living in a dorm in New York City. Jane has a daughter from this husband, and works in a retirement home to support herself. Her cousin, Ate, is a well known and well respected baby nurse in New York City. Ate gets Jane a job as a baby nurse to try to help her make more money. When Jane is fired from that job, Ate suggests Golden Oaks as an option. Reagan comes from a wealthy family and is a college graduate. Reagan chooses Golden Oaks as a way to get out from under her father’s thumb and wallet. She’s considered a VIP due to her genetics, background, and education.
The story follows Jane and Reagan through the nine months that they carry these babies. As different as these two could be, they are thrown together as roommates. Neither has any idea whose baby they are carrying, but there are rumors of a billionaire baby whose host will get a huge bonus upon successful delivery. Speculation is that it might be Jane or Reagan based on when they conceived. Golden Oaks is a fantasy prenatal center as long as you follow the rules. But no one can follow all the rules all the time. Can they?
Not only is the subject matter interesting, but the two female hosts, as well as other prominent characters in the book, are fascinating. How they ended up at Golden Oaks, what their experiences will be, how they’ll feel when it comes time to give birth and give up these golden children. It is both a unique and fascinating story. For me, it was a “can’t put down experience” into a world I’d never imagined existed. Definitely gets high marks from me and would be a book I would likely recommend to friends.