Review: The Thin Pink Line by Lauren Baratz-Logsted (2003 – Kindle Edition 2011)

~ By Elle Filz

Junior editor Jane Taylor has a problem. Well, that’s not entirely true, she has a lot of problems. Jane, like many women of a certain age, is baby-obsessed. She wants a little bundle of joy to carry around and solidify her relationship with her live-in boyfriend, Trevor.

So, convinced is she that she’s pregnant that she begins telling people about her “condition.” Nothing can convince her otherwise, not even the fact that her monthly arrives the same night that she tells Trevor of his impending fatherhood. Instead, she merely purchases a couple of tests and a pink marker and manufactures the proof that she needs.

Now, having faked a pregnancy test before (As an April Fool’s Joke!!) I know this is a relatively easy thing to do. Just snap off the top of the test, swipe the marker over the line, wait the requisite two minutes, and then scream like the world is ending. But honestly, that’s as far as the joke should ever go. Jane, however, takes it much, much farther. She tries to buy sonogram scans from women on the street, she fakes symptoms, and she toys with the emotions of well-meaning friends and family who are supporting her in her “time of need.” All the while, she’s repeating “I know this is crazy but…” like a heroin addict who’s jonesing for a hit but knows that it will probably kill them. As the book progressed, I became increasingly worried as Jane approached her ninth month. Not for Jane herself, but for the random pregnant women she might encounter as the time in which she would need to procure a baby came closer. I wish I could say I was kidding about that, but I’m not.

But where Jane is a nutter, the secondary characters are endearing. Her boss, Dodo, who never had a sister or many girlfriends, seems to relish her chance to use Jane’s pregnancy to gain that type of relationship. She memorizes What to Expect When You’re Expecting and sweetly serves as the “pregnancy police” when Jane seems determined to do something that could endanger her ungrowing fetus. Likewise, her neighbors David and Christopher, know the truth and serve as the father figures Jane desperately needs for herself and her unconceived child. They are always there to give her a well-needed kick in the butt. Tolkein, Jane’s new boyfriend, seems to honestly care for her. These people each deserve to have their own stories told, possibly even taking the same time period and showing it from their points of view. Kind of like Emily Giffin and her Blue and Borrowed books, there are two sides to every story, and it would be so interesting to see how the others reacted to what happens here. As Johnson & Johnson says, “Having a baby changes everything.” So does not having a baby, as it turns out.

Baratz-Logsted intended for The Thin Pink Line to be a satire and a dark comedy, and to that end it is effective. It is not laugh-out-loud funny at all, but it makes the reader think and possibly recognize themselves in the darkest parts of Jane’s character. A follow-up, Crossing the Line, is currently in print and will be available as an eBook later this year.

By day, Elle Filz is an IT geek in Baltimore, MD.  By night, you can either find her singing karaoke or jotting down notes for her next women’s fiction story.  She is also an aspiring Betty Crocker-type who thanks God every day that a fireman lives next door.

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