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The Baby Merchant by Kit Reed
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The Baby Merchant

by Kit Reed

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This story of a baby shortage set in the near future had some interesting characterisations. The main character of the story was portrayed as an enigmatic man of style, cool to the nth degree, had been so disturbed by his disfunctional childhood that he kidnapped babies and sold them to the most deserving of the highest bidders and felt he did good in the world. In truth, of course, he was a most despicable felon and killer. The other main character was far too heavy-handed too often to be realistic. What he did was ok, but that he kept on saying it in cheap-thrillerese was cringe-making. The moral issues were lightly touched on, but not dealt with substantially which was a shame as the author made some intersting points. Nevertheless, it was a good story, well-told, but the unsatisfying ending reduced a four-star book (with a five-star cover) to three stars. A good beach or plane read. ( )
  Petra.Xs | Apr 2, 2013 |
BLURB from Goodreads
The baby business is booming. Billions of dollars are spent each year on strollers, cribs, and clothing, not to mention assisted reproduction and adoption. With fertility rates dropping precipitously in the US and babies becoming ever more valuable as a combination of status symbol and perfect accessory, there's clearly a developing market for someone like Tom Starbird. Tom is The Baby Merchant
--though he'd never think of himself in such terms. In his mind, Tom creates perfect families by matching famous couples with prime--but neglected--newborns. Tom's a master of surveillance and secret "pick-ups". His small staff is extremely well-paid, especially the doctor who implants the government-required tracking chip into each infant's developing skull.
Sasha Egan is a talented artist feeling trapped by an accidental pregnancy. Determined to place her child with a loving family, Sasha is jolted by the arrival, at her chosen home for unwed mothers, of the unborn baby's father. Behind Gary's insincere protestations of love, Sasha detects the hand of her powerful, wealthy grandmother. Nearly nine months pregnant, Sasha disappears, going to ground at a seedy motel.
Jake Zorn is a crusading TV journalist who has broken some of the biggest scandals of the day. His life is perfect--except that he and his rainmaker attorney wife, Maury, cannot have children. They've tried everything; repeated miscarriages drove Maury to a terrible act that makes adoption agencies turn them away.
Tom Starbird is Jake's last chance, but it's too late--Tom wants out of the baby business. Jake Zorn knows more than a few hard truths about Tom Starbird, and he's not afraid to expose them to the nation.
Desperate to find a baby for the Zorns, Tom Starbird settles on Sasha Egan as the perfect supplier.
Soon Sasha's baby will be born. And many lives will be forever altered.

MY REVIEW
For some reason I had thought that this book was more dystopian and perhaps along the lines of Bumped by Megan McCafferty, having said that it was a really good read. I enjoyed this book even though it wasn't exactly what I was expecting.
Kit Reed writes so well and describes things so well that you can, for example, imagine the surroundings of the Del Mar motel. The book has quite complex, with complex relationships in it. The relationship between Tom and Daria. That even though Tom feels Daria never wanted him, he still feels that he has to protect her from the nastiness of a Jake Zorn exposé.
I liked the indecision of Sasha Egan, initially she wants nothing to do with her baby, she cannot wait for the time to come when she can hand the child over and relinquish all responsibility for it. Yet when her precious baby goes missing she is like a tigress who has been separated from her baby cub.
The changes that baby merchant Tom Starbird goes through is also amazing. He starts off thinking of the babies as a "product" the babies mother is just the person he need to distract long enough to steal her baby away. Tom provides a "service" for those that can afford it. tom chooses babies he thinks are unwanted and "removes" them from that home and places them with a couple who desperately want a baby but have run out of "normal channel options" to have one.Tom does target those mothers whom in his opinion do not want the responsibility and do not wish to be encumbered by a child. Tom tries to not become emotionally involved too. He doesn't usually handle the "product" himself he has staff to do that. The whole case with Jake Zorn is however different from the very beginning as Tom has actually decided to retire from his "job",Tom has even paid off his former employees. Then Jake Zorn comes along and blackmails him into one last job.
I suppose in a way you have to feel sorry for Jake Zorn, as in his own way he is only trying to make his wife Maury's dream of having a baby come true. Its the way he goes about enlisting Tom that is the bad thing.
I did enjoy the mystery, suspense and intrigue of this book. Where Tom hints to us at his upbringing, then later in the book we learn what his mother Daria did to make Tom feel this way.
The ending is left for you to finish in your imagination as to what happens to Tom. We are given a set of "clues" or "glimpses" into the fact that Sasha will be fine in the end.
So did I enjoy this book? Yes Would I recommend it? Yes Do I think there will be a book 2? No as the majority of loose ends are tightly wrapped up, and Kit says she doesn't do series in the Interview she did with me. Will I read more books by Kit Reed? Oh, Yes!

Available at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk from £1.91 paperback + P&P ( )
  Sanz71 | Feb 20, 2012 |
Odd story...I didn't think it was particularly well written. ( )
  alicat21 | Feb 14, 2010 |
Fantastic book about how we lie to ourselves. The titular character, Tom Starbird, rescues babies from less than ideal family lives, and delivers them for a very high price to couples who have difficulty adopting. He honestly sees himself as providing a service to all parties, including the harried mothers from whom he steals the babies (or, as he puts it, the suppliers from whom he acquires the product). Of course, it is all much more complicated than that, and in his final case, he ends up going against everything he believes about himself.

One of the things that I found fascinating about this book was his obvious compassion and love for the mothers he deals with, whether the suppliers or the clients of his transactions. His own mother attempted to abandon him when he was small, and never was very loving, so perhaps he was touched by their obvious love for the babies involved, but that doesn't completely explain his regard for the suppliers. He thinks he is doing them a favor, by taking a baby that they do not want. His occupation seems to be an act of love to his own mother, who he could never please as a young boy. He still loves her, though, and he thinks that removing the burden of the baby might have made her happy, so he provides this service for other mothers. Although he doesn't come out and tell them this is what he doing, he does convince himself that they would thank him if it weren't socially unacceptable to do so, especially in a world with a baby shortage (increasing infertility, and the borders are closed to foreign adoption by Homeland Security).

This book is frighteningly possible. It made me think about my own parenting skills, and also the society that we live in quite a bit. Many people do view babies as products--the baby merchant's clients, while obviously sincere in their desire to be parents, are incredibly specific about what they want in a child (e.g. one of the parents must have attended Juilliard). They want to be parents, but they think they can order up talents, looks and a personality for their child like they might order up color, cut and material for their newest winter coat. They tell themselves they just want to be parents, the husbands just want to make their wives happy, but they mean they want to be parents of specific children that will turn out well and make them proud. In the end, they are just as sefish as Tom's mother, who only had him to help her with her poetry, and wanted to discard him when she found out that a baby is a dependent being, not a muse.

This is the kind of book that stays with you and makes you think for a long time. ( )
1 vote sussabmax | Aug 8, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765315505, Hardcover)

The baby business is booming. Billions of dollars are spent each year on strollers, cribs, and clothing, not to mention assisted reproduction and adoption. With fertility rates dropping precipitously in the US and babies becoming ever more valuable as a combination of status symbol and perfect accessory, there's clearly a developing market for someone like Tom Starbird. Tom is The Baby Merchant
--though he'd never think of himself in such terms. In his mind, Tom creates perfect families by matching famous couples with prime--but neglected--newborns. Tom's a master of surveillance and secret "pickups". His small staff is extremely well-paid, especially the doctor who implants the government-required tracking chip into each infant's developing skull.

Sasha Egan is a talented artist feeling trapped by an accidental pregnancy. Determined to place her child with a loving family, Sasha is jolted by the arrival, at her chosen home for unwed mothers, of the unborn baby's father. Behind Gary's insincere protestations of love, Sasha detects the hand of her powerful, wealthy grandmother. Nearly nine months pregnant, Sasha disappears, going to ground at a seedy motel.

Jake Zorn is a crusading TV journalist who has broken some of the biggest scandals of the day. His life is perfect--except that he and his rainmaker attorney wife, Maury, cannot have children. They've tried everything; repeated miscarriages drove Maury to a terrible act that makes adoption agencies turn them away.

Tom Starbird is Jake's last chance, but it's too late--Tom wants out of the baby business. Jake Zorn knows more than a few hard truths about Tom Starbird, and he's not afraid to expose them to the nation.

Desperate to find a baby for the Zorns, Tom Starbird settles on Sasha Egan as the perfect supplier.

Soon Sasha's baby will be born. And many lives will be forever altered.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:03 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Babies are high-end commodities in the economy, microchipped at birth to protect them from theft. When medicine fails you and you can't adopt, Tom Starbird's your man. The baby merchant will steal a child for you. For a price. If you pass his tests." "This is Starbird's mission in life. He rescues "unwanted" babies and delivers them to loving homes. But even do-gooders get tired. Tom is shutting up shop when unrelenting Jake Zorn, the Television Conscience of Boston, blackmails him into doing one last job. Zorn's barren wife, Maury, wants a baby, but they can't adopt. Zorn will do whatever it takes to bring one home." "A conscientious provider, Tom locates a supplier. Translation: a mother with a child she doesn't want. This brings him up against lovely, rebellious Sasha Egan, an artist planning to have her baby and give it up. Stalked by her unborn child's father, Sasha is on the run. She has no way of knowing that Starbird has targeted her. Or that the baby she never wanted is the one thing in life she will do anything to keep."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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