surrogate toni halleen
Book Review / Reviews with Spoilers

Toni Halleen | The Surrogate

surrogate toni halleen

The Book: 

The Surrogate by Toni Halleen
Published October 26th 2021 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Date read: November 12, 2021

The Characters: 

Ruth and Hal

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Buy it on | Amazon

The Plot (from Goodreads):

Ruth is a no-nonsense fortysomething journalist from the Midwest desperate for a child with her new husband, Hal. A divorced attorney and the father of two teenage boys, Hal is open to having another child. But more than anything he wants Ruth to be happy—to become the mother she’s always wanted to be. Their hope rests with Cally, a nineteen-year-old who wants to go to college—but doesn’t have the cash. The arrangement seems perfect for everyone. 

All through the pregnancy, Ruth and Hal look forward to the new baby that will make their family complete. But within a day of the baby’s birth, Cally has a change of heart – and engineers a harrowing escape from the hospital with the newborn. When Ruth and Hal discover that she and their daughter are gone, a whole series of doubts and secrets are revealed, and it’s no longer clear what’s “right” and what’s “wrong.”

Set in the vast, sparsely populated upper reaches of northern Minnesota in the middle of winter, The Surrogate follows Ruth, Hal, Cally, and her boyfriend through the ice and snow, from the city to the dark, frozen north country as they run away from, and ultimately towards, one other.

Click here for book spoilers for The Surrogate
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read The Surrogate, I suggest you turn back now.

The Ending:

Jake (Hal’s son, was in a skiing accident) came out of the coma but lost the use of his legs. Ruth and Hall got temporary custody, but Hal didn’t really care about the baby after Jake’s accident. Ruth had trouble bonding with her too, despite her efforts.

Cally healed thoroughly too. She filed a counter lawsuit for custody. Digger was no longer in her life, but she is sort of with Sam.

One day Ruth realized she couldn’t really take care of the baby as well as Cally could. She offered to settle with Cally and give her custody if Cally didn’t sue her for the surgery she needed. Ruth had a baby of her own later and won an award for the story she wrote about surrogacy.

The Review: 

Thank you to the publisher and @uplitreads for a gifted copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and to Harper audio for this advanced listener’s copy!

I flew through this book! Each chapter ended in a way that made me need to start the next one, and I found it really hard to press pause. I loved the alternating POVs and can’t imagine this story being told any other way. I found myself empathizing with different characters as the story progressed, which is definitely a hallmark of good writing to me. It ended up being a much more emotional read than I was expecting from a thriller.

The plot had me on the edge of my seat. I’m very impressed with this debut author. Her writing style was compelling and drew me in from the start. I am definitely interested in reading more books by her in the future.

I don’t know much about the details of surrogacy, but I enjoyed the issues the book brings up regarding parental rights. The author does a good job of presenting both sides of the story.

The audiobook had a full cast of amazing narrators. I followed along in the book, but was glad I was able to listen since full-cast narration often elevates the story for me.

Please be advised that this book may be triggering to those sensitive to stories of infertility, surrogacy, or pregnancy in general.

QOTD: Do you think your name suits you? If not, what would you change it to?

Check out some fun Q&A questions with Toni Halleen below!

surrogate toni halleen
surrogate toni halleen

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