Ready, Sarah. Josh and Gemma Make a Baby. W.W. Crown, 2022. ISBN 978-1954007222. 318 pp. $24.99
Gemma Jacobs is the assistant and social media whiz for a super-sexy, eminently quotable, lifestyle guru Ian. She has a great job, her own studio apartment, and her biological clock is ticking. Problem is, she’s got stage IV endometriosis and some other issues, and her cheating ex-husband basically left her because she couldn’t get pregnant. After another attempted setup (hilariously) gone awry by her well-meaning mother, Gemma decides to ask long-time family friend (who oh yeah, by the way, happened to deflower her then went off to college and never called) to use his (pretty good) genes for her IVF experiment.
Josh says no at first, and then reconsiders. While he has always been a fixture in her life (sort of like a houseplant), she’s never really thought of him as long-term partner material (okay, she outright denied any interest, citing him as a loser for living with his dad, failing at a career and relationships, and struggling to make ends meet as a web comic artist). Gemma is perfectly willing to make this a contractual-only obligation, but Josh, whose father is dying, has a vested interest in creating a some semblance of a family… and sometimes when he looks at her, he smolders.
Josh not only agrees, but starts accompanying her to awkward medical appointments and leaves his, erm, deposit, with the clinic. Meanwhile, Gemma starts dating the self-help guru Ian, who is finally showing some romantic interest in her (but…but…they WORK! together!) and joins an infertility support group that meets in a dingy rat-and-cockroach infested (maybe) NYC comic store basement.
Gemma is curvy, funny, and can’t see the forest for the trees. She is judgemental to a fault. The ladies in her support group are caricatures of a wealthy socialite, a tough lawyer, and a hippie, each with a heart of gold, and each dealing in their own unique way with their struggles to get pregnant (no trigger warnings at the beginning of the novel, but a very warm author’s note at the end reminds the reader that this is Gemma’s take on infertility and IVF and every woman going through this has her own experience). Some ladies may find this painful to read, while others may welcome a story of what someone else is going through to become a mother.
Gemma’s humor–sometimes dark–is balanced with the sunny, pithy quotes from Ian. Josh is a wonderfully drawn character, self-deprecating and saying the real honest thing and then passing it off as a joke to seem not TOO vulnerable.
The plotting is little see-through, with literally every other character asking Gemma if she’s read Josh’s online comic about Grim and Jewel (yet)… but it makes for a satisfying conclusion. And, the writing is really GOOD, and vivid: in one pivotal scene, I could almost taste the slice of pizza as the protagonists ambled in the cold through a New York neighborhood.
I received an advance reader’s review copy of #JoshAndGemmaMakeABaby from #NetGalley.