In her latest novel, What Came First, Carol Snow explores the lives of three women who are all affected by choices made in their youth involving artificial insemination. Vanessa is hopelessly in love with her boyfriend, Eric, yet he seems to have commitment issues. All Vanessa wants is to get married and have a family with Eric, but he expresses little interest. Wendy and her husband Darren conceived twins via a sperm donor, but parenthood has been less than ideal. Their kids are out of control, and Darren interacts with online people rather than his family. Laura is a successful lawyer who conceived via a sperm donor. Her son is the light of her life, but she is getting older, and Ian wants a sibling. She would do anything for him, even track down the sperm donor to get another deposit.
What Came First is the third novel I have read by Carol Snow, and I like her writing style and plot ideas more and more with each new book. I can’t think of any other novel that I have read that has IVF or IUF as its subject, so I was very excited to see how she would treat it. The novel is made up of rotating first person narratives from Vanessa, Wendy, and Laura, but interestingly, I found it was the men’s perspectives that I was most curious in having.
Through Vanessa’s and Laura’s narrative, we get a sense of who Eric is, but I really wanted to be inside of his head to get a sense of who he was at the age of 23, and who he is now at the age of 32. Likewise, I wanted to know about Darren’s pain and why he chose to escape into a virtual reality world instead of working things out with Wendy. I even wanted to know more about Vanessa’s boss, Dr. Sanchez, who caught my interest from the very beginning.
What Came First contains a lot of interesting twists and turns; I wasn’t able to accurately figure out how everything would come together (or fall apart) for these characters. By the time I reached the end, I turned the page, hoping there would be a little more closure for a few of them. I don’t necessarily think a sequel should be written, but I’d love to read a novella or short story just to find out how they are all doing.
Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Carol Snow. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.