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YOU DON’T LOOK ADOPTED: A memoir ~ Anne Heffron

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

YOU DON’T LOOK ADOPTED is one of those books that is hard to put down, because all of us spend time trying to figure out “Who Am I?” For the adopted person there is a distinctive other part to this question as they must explore also, “who rejected me and for what reason?”   We must not leave out all the health questionnaires about the family tree that becomes the unknown element and reminder.  As a former counselor, with a number of adoptees in my client base and as the mother of an adopted child I wanted to read this book and tell you about it right away. It is a gripping read and very honest study of a person who found these questions difficult.

“Anne Heffron was born in Manhattan in 1964 to a young college student who gave her up for adoption. Fifty-one years later Anne returned to Manhattan to find the roots of her story, the story that began with her birth instead of the story that began “The day we got you.” This journey is the subject of “You Don’t Look Adopted”, an account of the perils and blessings of adoption.

Before turning to memoir, Anne co-wrote the film “Phantom Halo” with her writing partner, Antonia Bogdanovich. “Phantom Halo” was first shown at the 2015 Austin Film Festival and won Best Picture at the 2015 New York International Film Festival. She and Antonia currently have a screenplay, “The Rabbit Will Die” in development.” (TLC Book Tours)

Heffron also has bonding issues that affect her life and her living smoothly through researching these life questions.  There is an unexplained period of time (about 3 months) before she is adopted.  There are no findings about where she was after birth until being given a family.  Was she in a hospital nursery or did she have a foster parent in the interim that could have offered a post birth bonding experience?  I have met several hands on therapists who recreate this newborn bonding experience for many adults later in life.

There is a period of anxiety that Heffron experiences and that occurs repeated.  Being rejected and lied too by her birth mother also changes her thinking.  She has a good family and can relate to her mother and father, but feels her differences early on and those differences persist in making her feel abandoned and alone.

This is such a powerful read and I believe is very helpful to those who are finding the journey interesting to traverse. It is also very good for the adoptive parent as there are many insights available for discovery. The writing is candid and straight on and challenges one to re-evaluate.  Heffron is definitely a good writer and is brave to share her story, which I am certain will help others on the journey to self.

“You Don’t Look Adopted by Anne Heffron is an insightful self-exploration of life as an adopted person. The author gives readers a deep, personal journey into her innermost thoughts, fears, hopes and confusion as she struggles to unravel her life and concepts of value, worth, and mattering.”–Mirah Riben, Huffington Post

There is one small point where I did not like this powerful book and makes me concerned that people will not pick it up with curiosity or interest.  I think the cover is not attractive and pushes me away from the book.

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PURITY: A Political Novel ~Jonathan Franzen

Monday, July 10th, 2017

PURITY is a marvelous story by Jonathan Franzen and it was on my holiday wish list in 2015.  It had already been out for a while, but with my reading schedule it was the first time I could clear a space to savor this read.   I like Franzen’s entire writing list and have read them even before one became an Oprah selection.  They are dense reads with great detail and the development of the characters is outstanding; one is certain that they know the individuals.  When you mix in the personal look at history that the characters share with the reader, the books become a truth to build perspective upon and enjoy.

PURITY was not an exception to the writer’s rule and it took me a full 18 hours to get from cover to cover and I had to put it aside several times to find enough time to truly understand the story and the lessons about life and political reality.  The story line is such amazing separate pieces that resolve into an integration of the character’s lives and a remarkable conclusion.   There was an incredible amount of sexual tension to the story as if sexuality was the subtext of the wholeness of the story.

Pip is the first focus and she wanders through the maze of other’s lives until she connects all the folks into a reunion that shines the love through the timeline and allows for it to manifest in a healthy manner.  She is a computer expert in a demeaning job saddled with $130,000 of education loans.  Her mother is “weird” and lives in a cabin in rural California and works as a grocery store checker.  Pip is learning about people, work, and how to get along with others – maybe?    She is also the focus of political intrigue and lessons, which match up with her self-protection, sarcasm, and ability to discern what is real. Pip does not know who she is or her roots.

Andreas is the political operative and the founder of an organization that is similar to WikiLeaks – ‘The Sunlight Project’.  He grew up with his parents a part of the Communist regime in East Berlin and yet for most of his youth he led a life of privilege and wealth.  He is well detailed and he starts his own revolution by speaking out at University and working against the grain.  He is there for the falling of the ‘Wall’ and he continually tries to ‘help’ people, particularly teenage girls, as a counselor at the mission church where he lives and hides.  He ends up developing a secret community of hackers and ‘truth tellers’ in a remote location in Bolivia.

The reader is pulled into the extraordinary wealth of a family in the Midwest of the USA.  The daughter is rebelling and trying to escape the life of the rich and yet her mental health is not so stable.  She is rebellious and a ‘hippie’ protestor/artist in her youth and she also becomes an exile as she hides from her family and takes on the role of being poverty.

Each section of the book, I had to read without putting the book down it was so compelling and detailed and fascinating.  One needs to wonder what the rebellion of youth will bring us and how we will live out our values within the confines of the life we are living.  How do we escape the political ramifications of our circumstances and be in touch with our values?  What do we reveal about ourselves and how is it that we learn to achieve our destiny to arrive at our own home; find the love we need?     Whew!  PURITY is the perfect length and yet still can take our breath away.

As always Franzen does not disappoint making the mind work with good story telling skill and focus.    A noteworthy read- PURITY

Author:

Jonathan Franzen is the author of four other novels, most recently FREEDOM and THE CORRECTIONS, and five works of nonfiction and translation, including FARTHER AWAY and THE KRAUS PROJECT, all published by FSG.  He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the German Akademie de Kunste, and the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

“Purity is a grand story of youthful idealism, extreme fidelity, and murder. The author of The Corrections and Freedom has imagined a world of vividly original characters–Californians and East Germans, good parents and bad parents, journalists and leakers–and he follows their intertwining paths through landscapes as contemporary as the omnipresent Internet and as ancient as the war between the sexes. Purity is the most daring and penetrating book yet by one of the major writers of our time.”(Cover)

Jonathan Franzen Facebook

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A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING: A Novel ~ Ruth Ozeki

Monday, December 5th, 2016

A nearly perfect read, which came into my awareness with nearly perfect timing, and gave me a nearly perfect excuse to do nothing else except read; Exquisite.

The story begins with a 16-year-old girls voice saying:  “Hi! My name is Nao, and I am a time being. Do you know what a time being is?  Well, if you give me a moment, I will tell you.” This child’s story is compelling and sometimes funny and sometimes very difficult.  Nao is trying to figure out life and how to live it after having been living the “good” life in California and now whisked back to Japan in the dot com bust.   Her father is extremely depressed and it is affecting the whole family.  The guilt, the anger, the shame is difficult to understand and yet it draws one into the story.  The bullying and shaming that Nao must endure is horrific.

There is a second story that takes place on an island on the British Columbia Coastline.   Ruth, a writer, is wandering the beach and finds a “Hello Kitty” lunch pail in a heavy plastic shipping bag.  When opened the lunch pail contains a journal and a Kamikaze pilot’s letters and watch, it appears to be debris from the Japanese tsunami of 2011.  It is Nao’s journal and her story and history.

The story is also about the Zen experience of life as shared by Nao’s lessons from her 104 year old great grandmother, who is the mother of the Kamikaze pilot.  How can there be humor in such a story?  There is a great deal of humor in the story.  The characters on the island truly come alive and participate in the story.  Ruth and her partner Oliver are strong characters in their own right.  Fact and fiction twirl about as compliments to understanding the deeper issues facing each person-culture.  Is Nao still alive and well?  How could this person be tracked down and could they all be on the Internet?

My book group chose this book and so it is apart of my own library.  The other members of the group discovered that there was a reader’s play of this story being performed in the city and they bought tickets and went to the performance.  We cannot stop talking about this book and we all agree that there is perfection in the writing of this story, which makes it a huge recommendation and a must read for so many people I know.    I just had to share it with you

Bursting with symbolism, a story for our time – full of topics to discuss; breaks the barriers and expectations of traditional thinking.

Ruth Ozeki Webpage
Ruth Ozeki Twitter

From the website:

“Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest.Her first two novels, My Year of Meats(1998) and All Over Creation (2003), have been translated into 11 languages and published in 14 countries. Her most recent work, A Tale for the Time-Being (2013), won the LA Times Book Prize, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critic’s Circle Award, and has been published in over thirty countries. Ruth’s documentary and dramatic independent films, including Halving the Bones, have been shown on PBS, at the Sundance Film Festival, and at colleges and universities across the country. A longtime Buddhist practitioner, Ruth was ordained in 2010 and is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center and the Everyday Zen Foundation. She lives in British Columbia and New York City, and is currently the Elizabeth Drew Professor of Creative Writing at Smith College.”

“Tantalizing”– The Washington Post
“A spellbinding tale.” – O, The Oprah Magazine
“Fractures Clichés” – ELLE
“Delightful.” – The New York Times Book Review
“Terrific”– The Seattle Times

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EVERYTHING WE KEEP: A Novel ~Kerry Lonsdale

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

It is Aimee’s wedding day but instead of celebrating the family is attending the groom’s memorial service.  The reader is right into the first plot twist and the mystery of this romantic love story.  A mystery woman tells the tearful bride that James is still alive at the reception!

The first part of EVERYTHING WE KEEP is about Aimee’s loss and her sadness and her resolve to hang on to the possibility that James just might be still alive. They have truly been a couple since they were young children and have been committed to each other for nearly their whole lives.   Aimee’s parents own an Irish Pub and James’ family is very wealthy and own an Import/Export company.  The groom’s family has very high expectations for their sons and are demanding with their rules and enforcement.  Aimee’s family is more relaxed and easy going and they offer James a haven where he can explore other options for his life.

Aimee has wonderful supportive friends and she begins exploring her own life options and opens a gourmet café and coffee shop.  She loves to bake and the foods the author shares are quite delicious.  She also meets someone who thinks she is pretty special too.  The new fellow is very respectful of her feelings and they become good friends.

Part II of the story is the unraveling of the mystery and the return of the mystery woman.  It is very interesting to figure out how the story unravels and the points of trauma, which produced this outcome.

The writing is very good and the story moves at a nice pace; not just escape reading but some interesting thoughts and developments.  I could have enjoyed this book on vacation or on a rainy weekend.  There was enough about beautiful clothes and hair to even keep younger readers interested.

TLC Book Tours sent me an e-copy of this book to read and review.   This book already has over 2,200 4.5 star reviews on Amazon.  It is free for folks who have Kindle Unlimited.

About Kerry Lonsdale

Kerry Lonsdale believes life is more exciting with twists and turns, which may be why she enjoys dropping her characters into unexpected scenarios and foreign settings. She graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and is a founder of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, an online community of authors located across the globe. She resides in Northern California with her husband, two children, and an aging golden retriever who’s convinced she’s still a puppy. Everything We Keep is Kerry’s first novel.

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