May 30 2008
Dear Ms. Hart,
Your Spice Brief, Reason Enough continues the story of Elle and Dan from Dirty. Since I loved Dirty, I was really looking forward to Reason Enough and I am happy to say I enjoyed it.
Elle and Dan have been living in the first home they’ve owned together just a few months when Elle gets an infection and her doctor prescribes antibiotics that interfere with her birth control pills. So for a few days, rather than use a prophylactic, they satisfy each other in other ways. But the temporary ineffectiveness of Elle’s pills raises the possibility of having a baby in Dan’s mind, and he asks Elle if she would agree to have a child with him.
As Elle says in the book’s opening:
It wasn’t the sort of question I could answer at once, without hesitation. It took me hours to pick out which bath mats to put in our new bathroom. How on earth could I decide in one split moment if I should agree to have a baby?
It’s not an easy decision for Elle because, as readers of Dirty know, she comes from a dysfunctional family and her own childhood was traumatic. She didn’t have great role models in her parents and since she views having a child as a big responsibility, she is not certain she is ready to take that step.
Meanwhile, Elle’s brother Chad and his partner Luke have adopted a little girl named Leah and moved from their former home in California back to Pennsylvania. Seeing Chad with Leah keeps the question of whether or not she herself should have a child alive in Elle’s mind, even as her mother’s bigotry toward Chad’s romantic relationship with Luke and toward their black little girl rears its ugly head and keeps Elle’s doubts alive, too.
At the same time, Elle’s friend Marcy is pregnant, and the emotions of pregnancy, which Marcy exhibits, make Elle keenly aware that she herself is more closed and would find it difficult to display her feelings in a similar way. When Elle mentions Marcy’s baby shower to her mother, Elle’s mother drops a not-so-subtle hint that she wants Elle to give her a grandchild.
But are these good enough reasons for Elle to have a baby, or to refrain from having one? That’s the question at the forefront of Elle’s mind, and at the center of Reason Enough.
There were times, while reading this novelette, that I felt that the close focus on the baby issue in the secondary storylines seemed just a little bit unlikely. I was also not in doubt as to what Elle’s final decision would be, so Reason Enough did not have the same level of unpredictability Dirty had.
I wondered too, since much of Elle’s past is not detailed in Reason Enough, whether readers who had not read Dirty would find Reason Enough as compelling as I did, since they would not be as fully aware of just how traumatic her growing up years were.
But for me, who had read Dirty and knew all Elle had been through, her emotional journey in Reason Enough was deeply moving, and I even shed a tear more than once. I was also satisfied with the way the secondary storylines were wrapped up in a little over fifty pages. For such a short piece, Reason Enough feels very robust.
While some part of me would have liked to have seen Elle’s fears and her inner questioning go a bit further than they did, another part of me was glad to see that she was in a much more secure and healthy place than she had been at the beginning of Dirty. I also liked that after bringing up the possibility of having a child, Dan never pressed Elle on it, but instead, gave her the time and space that she needed in which to make her decision.
On the whole, I enjoyed Reason Enough, and since I am generally not a fan of baby epilogues, it really says a lot about how much Elle has come to mean to me as a character. B for this one.
This book can be purchased in ebook format only.