A probing novel about a newly married couple, the surrogate they hire to carry their baby, and the unexpected consequences of their decisions.
Ruth is a no-nonsense fortysomething journalist from the Midwest desperate for a child with her new husband, Hal. A divorced attorney and the father of two teenage boys, Hal is open to having another child. But more than anything he wants Ruth to be happy—to become the mother she’s always wanted to be. Their hope rests with Cally, a nineteen-year-old who wants to go to college—but doesn’t have the cash. The arrangement seems perfect for everyone.
All through the pregnancy, Ruth and Hal look forward to the new baby that will make their family complete. But within a day of the baby’s birth, Cally has a change of heart – and engineers a harrowing escape from the hospital with the newborn. When Ruth and Hal discover that she and their daughter are gone, a whole series of doubts and secrets are revealed, and it’s no longer clear what’s “right” and what’s “wrong.”
Set in the vast, sparsely populated upper reaches of northern Minnesota in the middle of winter, The Surrogate follows Ruth, Hal, Cally, and her boyfriend through the ice and snow, from the city to the dark, frozen north country as they run away from, and ultimately towards, one other.
In The Surrogate, Toni Halleen raises thought-provoking questions about the nature of family, love, and relationships. What would you do for your partner, when the going gets tough? How much is a pregnancy “worth?” And who, if anyone, “deserves” to be a mother?