I review Swaying by Lucinda Blanchard.
Charlotte has one desire in life – she wants a daughter. But you can’t choose what you have… can you?
Desire soon turns to obsession as Charlotte embarks on a difficult and controversial journey to sway the odds to have a girl.
How far is she prepared to go, and at what cost?
Gender swaying is not something I’ve ever come across before. Not wanting children is probably largely to blame, but I imagine it’s also a very taboo subject. Surely parents don’t really care whether they have a boy or a girl? They’re only happy that their child is healthy, right?
Well, no. Asking myself the hypothetical question “which would you prefer, boy or girl?”, my answer would be a very firm “girl”. I’d hate to raise a boy. But, since your chances are 50/50, what can you do to put the odds in your favour? You can sway.
Swaying refers to methods used by would-be parents who want a particular gender. From my limited research, it seems as if there are many options, including a change of diet, your PH levels, exposing yourself to positive or negative ions, and so on. There is, apparently, a science to it, though it is very complicated, and success rates are disputed. The science interests me, and I intend on looking into this further, simply to satisfy my curiosity.
Blanchard writes of this taboo and emotional subject with a steady hand. Charlotte is real, in her hopes and fears, her desperation and her love, and easy to connect with. Swaying is emotionally charged – Blanchard shows all sides to swaying, how it can affect the entire family, not just the parents, and just how deep that desperation can go.
Although Swaying has a dark, sad side, it is also strangely uplifting. To write about such a character will show so many people that they are not alone. Blanchard can touch the lives of swaying parents, and hopefully open up conversations about the practice. While some people who are unable to conceive may feel offended by the idea that some people will go to any lengths necessary to get a child of their chosen gender, I believe it’s important to tackle such views head-on, and bring them into the light.
There’s no shame in wanting a child of a particular gender, but, in Swaying, there were some deeper issues at play. Teaching people about swaying may help some people who feel desperate, alone, misunderstood, and it is for her honesty that Blanchard should be commended. Her writing is simple yet effective, cutting right to the heart of the matter, and leaving you exposed. I really felt for characters such as Charlotte and Bella, and those around them. Swaying is a triumphant debut.