Marie finds herself unexpectedly pregnant at 39. Meanwhile, her best friend, Elizabeth, has never been able to conceive, despite years of fertility treatments. In a genetic test routinely offered to older mothers, Marie discovers that the child she is carrying has Down syndrome. Intertwined throughout the novel is the story of Margaret, a woman who gave birth to a daughter with Down syndrome in 1947, when such infants were considered to be "unfinished" children. As the novel shifts through the decades, the lives of the three women converge, and the story speeds to an unexpected conclusion.
With skill and poise, debut novelist Theresa Shea dramatically explores society's changing views of Down syndrome over the past 60 years. The story offers an unflinching and compassionate history of the treatment of people with Down syndrome and their struggle for basic human rights. Ultimately, The Unfinished Child is an unforgettable and inspiring tale about the mysterious and complex bonds of family, friendship and motherhood.