CHOSEN

Chandra Hoffman

It all begins with a fantasy . . . caseworker in her “paperwork-signing” suit alongside beaming parents cradling their adopted newborn: this is the blissful picture that keeps Chloe Pinter, director of Portland’s Chosen Child domestic adoption program, happy as she juggles the demands of her boss and the incessant needs of adoptive and biological parents.

But the dream job that offers Chloe refuge from her turbulent personal life soon becomes a nightmare involving three very different couples: the college sweethearts who, after suffering fertility problems, are now expecting their own baby; the wealthy husband and desperate wife for whom adoption is a last chance;

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It all begins with a fantasy . . . caseworker in her “paperwork-signing” suit alongside beaming parents cradling their adopted newborn: this is the blissful picture that keeps Chloe Pinter, director of Portland’s Chosen Child domestic adoption program, happy as she juggles the demands of her boss and the incessant needs of adoptive and biological parents.

But the dream job that offers Chloe refuge from her turbulent personal life soon becomes a nightmare involving three very different couples: the college sweethearts who, after suffering fertility problems, are now expecting their own baby; the wealthy husband and desperate wife for whom adoption is a last chance; and the couple who has nothing—except the baby everyone wants. But when a child goes missing, perceptions of family and future are challenged, posing the questions: What happens when you get what you thought you wanted? How far would you go if it wasn’t what you wanted after all?

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  • Harper Paperbacks
  • Paperback
  • November 2011
  • 320 Pages
  • 9780061974311

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About Chandra Hoffman

Since graduating from Cornell University, Chandra Hoffman has been an orphanage relief worker in Romania, a horse trainer in the Caribbean, a short-order cook in a third-world hospital, the director of a US adoption program, and an event planner for Philadelphia’s Main Line elite.

Her debut novel, Chosen, uses the domestic adoption scene of Portland, Oregon as a backdrop to pose the questions: What happens when you get what you thought you wanted? and How far would you go if it might not be what you want anymore?

Chandra received her MFA from Antioch University in 2007. She has lived in eleven international cities and is now settled back in her hometown outside of Philadelphia with her husband, three young children, and an ever-changing menagerie. She is at work on her second novel.

Praise

“A page-turner that rings true. . . . This engrossing read will appeal to fans of domestic fiction luminaries Jodi Picoult, Sue Miller, and Chris Bohjalian.”—Library Journal

“[Hoffman’s] sparkling debut fully engages the reader with Chloe’s altruistic dreams and the predicament in which she unexpectedly finds herself.”—Booklist

“This riveting debut novel from Chandra Hoffman will keep you on edge until its final glorious pages. Enlightening, terrifying, and big-hearted, Chosen is a terrific book!”Ann Hood, author of The Red Thread

“Gritty and suspenseful, Chosen draws us into the obstacle-strewn path of domestic adoption. Hoffman’s characters are complex and sympathetic in strikingly different ways, even those who appear at first glance to be irredeemable.”Juliette Fay, author of Shelter Me

Discussion Questions

Chosen is told from multiple characters’ points of view. How did these diverse voices inform your reading and your perceptions of the characters? Would the novel have been a completely different story if told by one narrator?

Message boards play an integral role in Francie’s story. What do you make of her online relationship with Eva versus their in-person dynamic? How does their reliance on electronic communication affect their bond and the events that unfold between them? 

Desire, both for people and objects, is a central theme in the novel. As Penny says on p. 160, “Maybe she shouldn’t want things anymore. But she does.” Why does she feel that way? What does each couple want most? Can wanting something too much be dangerous? Use examples from the book. 

Many people believe Chloe is motivated to help build families as a social worker because of the tragedy of her childhood—the loss of her own family with the death of her mother. Is Chloe trying to vicariously rebuild the family she lost? Does her work make her happy or fulfilled? What kind of qualities does a person need to be successful in a job like Chloe’s? Do you think you could do what she does?

On p. 139, Chloe asks Paul if he believes in soulmates and he answers, “I believe in being the best partner you can be. The rest follows.” Do you consider any of the couples in this book to be soulmates? How do you define “soulmate”? Do you think Paul and Chloe were the best partners they could be? How did Chloe’s job affect her romantic life? List the various ways each of the novel’s couples help and hurt one another.

There is a budding relationship between Paul and Chloe during the middle of the novel. What is each looking for in the other? What, if anything, do their interactions belie about their relationships with their partners? 

Jason is often the novel’s most foreboding character, but, as Chloe points out, he cried into her neck when his son as born. What is your opinion of Jason? What drives his behavior? How much of his behavior is driven by his own nature and desires, and how much by the circumstances of his life that are beyond his control? Are any of his actions understandable? Do you see redemption for him and Penny? 

Chosen is a layered portrait of domestic adoption and ultimately a cultural reflection of contemporary America. How do race, class, and gender intersect in the adoptions in this novel? 

Why do you think the author chooses to have the resolution of Wyeth’s abduction narrated by three different “Anonymous” voices? Did you read them as the same person? Who do you think Anonymous is? 

The novel begins in Portland, Oregon, and ends in Hawaii. Why do you think the novel ends there? Did the ending leave you with any unanswered questions? Do you think all the families are finally happy?