Published: March 1, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
You might enjoy this book if you like: Family stories, novels set in Seattle, anything else written by Amy Hatvany, books that will make you cry
What happens when two sisters who were torn apart when their young mother abandoned them—and grew up in tragically different circumstances—reunite thirty-five years later to find her? For readers who love Jodi Picoult, acclaimed author Amy Hatvany fearlessly explores complex family issues in her gripping, provocative new novel.
Natalie Clark knew never to ask her sensitive adoptive mother questions about her past. She doesn’t even know her birth mother’s name—only that the young woman signed parental rights over to the state when Natalie was a baby. Now Natalie’s own daughter must complete a family tree project for school, and Natalie is determined to unearth the truth about her roots.
Brooke Walker doesn’t have a family. At least, that’s what she tells herself after being separated from her mother and her little sister at age four. Having grown up in a state facility and countless foster homes, Brooke survives the only way she knows how, by relying on herself. So when she discovers she’s pregnant, Brooke faces a heart-wrenching decision: give up her baby or raise the child completely on her own. Scared and confused, she feels lost until a surprise encounter gives her hope for the future.
How do our early experiences—the subtle and the traumatic—define us as adults? How do we build relationships when we’ve been deprived of real connection? Critically acclaimed author Amy Hatvany considers controversial and complicated questions about childhood through the lens of her finely crafted characters in this astute novel about mending wounds by diving into the truth of what first tore us apart.
There are very, very few writers whose books I will pre-order in print and then devour as soon as they come in. Amy Hatvany is one of those writers for me. I've also learned to make sure I'm stocked up on tissues before I even read the first page because I can guarantee that she will jerk those tears right out of you.
This story is told through 3 viewpoints--Jennifer (the mother) and her daughters, Brooke and Natalie. I was actually surprised to see Jennifer as one of the narrators and I was worried that it might be too much for this book--I was far more interested in the sisters' relationship with each other than an overbearing emotional mommy plot. But, it actually worked. Most of Jennifer's narration was backstory, whereas Brooke and Natalie's stories were mostly in the present.
Both Brooke and Natalie are expertly crafted. It did take me a little while to get into Natalie's mind. At first she--and her life--just seemed a bit too perfect, especially compared to Brooke. But, as the story developed, I her character rounded out and became fully believable. I especially appreciated how Hatvany depicted Natalie and Kyle's marriage--it was happy, but not Hallmark card happy, and very realistic.
Brooke's character was probably the most complex of the book. When Jennifer surrendered her parental rights, Brooke was 4 years old--so she had actual memories of her mother. A month later, she's separated from her baby sister when Natalie is adopted but Brooke is not. From there, she bounces from foster home to foster home until she ultimately lands back in the "institution" where she stays until she turns 18. Obviously, her life was not an easy one and Hatvany is not shy about showing the reader her scars.
I don't want to go too much into the flow of the story, as I really feel that it is best that the reader just experiences it as it happens. I will say this...the tissues were needed and the ending was very satisfying.
Once again, Amy Hatvany delivers. I'm waiting for the boxed set of all her books so I can just recommend that to everyone because all of her books, including this one, are painfully beautiful and worth the read.
I was not solicited for this review and I received no compensation for this post.