Nobody’s Child is Full of Grace
- Kelley Mathews Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2011 24 Aug
Author: Austin Boyd
Title: Nobody’s Child
Laura Ann McGehee will do anything to save the farm that has been in her family for six generations. When her father dies after a lengthy illness, her dwindling resources rapidly dry up in the parched West Virginia summer. Threatened on one side by the extreme weather that destroyed her crop and on the other side by the financial and legal machinations of her jealous Uncle Jack, Laura Ann resorts once again to an unusual, disturbing means of earning money.
The business of harvesting donor eggs and sperm brings big bucks to clinics that specialize in IVF (in vitro fertilization) and other infertility issues. But Laura Ann feels guilty about “selling her body” this way, believing she shortchanged God’s plan and took matters into her own hands. But Granny Apple, her tough, wise old neighbor, takes Laura Ann under her wing with reassurances of God’s grace on her acts of courage.
Sometimes, desperate measures result in extraordinary consequences. When Sophia McQuistion arrives in the valley the following summer, seven months pregnant, Laura Ann is confronted with the reality that she is going to be a mother, biologically at least. When circumstances change and she is named legal guardian of the baby, Laura Ann must fight to keep him against long odds. She stands to lose much—small town gossip is vicious, she’s broke, and her beau, Ian, hasn’t heard the whole story. How will she prevail against such odds? And will she ever forgive herself for causing the whole debacle through what she sees as her faithless choices?
In lyrical prose, author Austin Boyd shines a spotlight on the mountains and valleys of West Virginia, the setting itself becoming a major character. Readers will smell the tobacco, feel the rain, and hear the crashing thunder through his skillful descriptions. Laura Ann’s devotion to the land of her forefathers is deeply ingrained, feeding her motivation to do everything she can to save it.
Boyd, a long-time volunteer with Crisis Pregnancy ministries, weaves together a complicated ethical dilemma that forces the reader to ask tough questions. Under what circumstances is it acceptable to donate one’s gametes, which could potentially be joined with another’s to create children? Whose responsibility is the child should the birth parents be unable or unwilling to care for him? Do doctors and would-be parents “play God,” or are assisted reproductive techniques (ART) legitimate options? In bioethics, the line between right and wrong is never as straight or obvious as we’d like it to be; more often it curves tantalizingly out of reach just as we think we’ve found it.
As central to the plot as it is, bioethics seems to be merely the vehicle by which a greater theme is explored—shame, forgiveness, and grace. Laura Ann agonizes over her secret, branding herself as guilty of meddling in God’s affairs, losing faith in him. Some in her small rural community would condemn her as immoral, but when some embrace her with a large dose of grace she has difficulty accepting it. Drastic events happen before she is able to see the redemption in her story, how God used her questionable decision for something great.