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just finished the book, a few thoughts/questions


 
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ciarrasmom
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PostPosted: October 08 2006, 9:41 AM    Post subject:
just finished the book, a few thoughts/questions
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first off, FANTASTIC book. I read most of it yesterday, and was falling asleep at the critical time in the book last night, so I put it aside and finished it this morning.

My biggest question is related to the author's understanding of some of the nuances of adoption that were so clear and SO real in the book. Obviousl, this wasnt an adoption in the traditional sense, but some of the emotions portrayed were so strikingly real that I found I related more to that aspect of the story than to the DS connection. I'de like to know if adoption has factored into the author's life somewhere? Or did she do research specifically into how a parent or a sibling would feel upon finding the news of a long missing child?

I was 3 years old when my mother got pregnant for my sister. As my father was in prison at the time (and throughout most of my childhood) it was obviously not his baby. There have been many stories about "what happened" and why any of it came about, my Dad has his version, but seems intent on making my mom out to be the criminal. He was the one who told me about my sister, sitting in the cab of his pickup truck when I was 18, the first time I had the courage to see him since he and mom divorced when I was small. It was crazy to hear the words: "you have a sister" and the details that I had never known, but was somehow not shocked by, like they fit exactly into the story and made perfect sense. There were other secrets too, but those werent mine so much as my brothers. I left that meeting intent on "finding" my sister and "giveing her back" to my mother, like Caroline in the book, I believed somehow I could fix the damage that had been done and undo all the hurt. I didnt know that it would just open up more kinds of hurt and leave even more things unanswered. I didnt tell my mother that I knew. I just thought I could find her...the sister he called Kimberly...and put her back in place somehow and make things right. He hadnt told me to give me anything or repair any lies, he was trying to hurt my mother through me. I remembered the nights waking up, hearing her crying as she searched through the closets in her sleep, trying to find "the baby". I never understood that, and when I asked once, a cloud came over her face and she said she was dreaming about my nephew being lost. I had no reason to doubt her. There were times when my best friend, a girl a yr younger than me named Kimberly, would come over, and my mother fawned over her. She had to know it wasnt HER, but in her mind she seemed to see my friend as some kind of amazing beautiful deep person, and she adored her. I always felt there was something more there, like Kimberly was somehow a better kid than me, because my mother just LOVED her, and there was none of theat cloud hanging over them blurring things.
In about a year, I had found my sister. We were both born in a small town in Northern Maine, and in 1987 they had just begun to change their recordkeeping. I had been adopted by my stepfather at age 6, so I found my own name and my brothers and figured out how it worked, a number was assigned to the child, and although our names changed, the number stayed the same. The old names had been blacked out with a marker, but having been typed previously, you could see them through the ink. I found her name, my own, and our brothers. And I found her new name too. Armed with a DOB and her name and names of her adoptive parents, I searched phone directories until I found her. She was still in high school, and I spoke to her parents first, asking permission. They were very nice about it, and allowed us to talk. Her name had been changed to Mary. In my mind, I still called her Kimberly. Like Paul in the book, I struggled to make who she WAS fit with who she should have been. It should have been easy and comfortable, the little sister I had always wanted was there talking to me, and I didnt know the first thing about her. Over the course of a year or two, we wrote letters and talked when we could. We were both poor, and struggling. Even phone bills were more than we could handle. Eventually, we just lost touch, I had my babies and she joined the Air Force. Then she got married, and had her own kids. I "re-found" her again when I was about 30, she emailed me photos of her 3 kids, and I could see the family resemblance SO strongly that it shocked me. Her son looked so much like our cousin as a boy. Somehow, the kids made it real, and painful. They and their mother werent mine, she wasnt my sister in any sense other than blood, and although I have always hoped we could meet in real life and I could just once hug my little sister, I have felt for years like it would be an intrusion on her life. The book touched so hard on that, in a way I wish we all hadd DS, that ease of new relationships, total acceptance no questions asked, and we could just accept that we are family and never have the awkward silences. But real life isnt like that. Besides, my mother, when she found out, 5 years later, was very unhappy to say the least. She blamed me for looking into her secrets, and never understood that this was part of MY history too. In the book, it seems as though Norah somehow understands that, that the time to be Phoebes mother is past, that you cant BE that mother to an adult who doesnt know you. But that paul and Phoebe were not involved in any of what happened back then and had the chance to discover the relationship for what it was and love each other with no guilt or strings attached. For me, I felt guilty for finding her, and not being able to make things right. In fact, I made things worse. I opened a wound I couldnt close. And like Paul, I knew that no matter how "good" I was, I was never going to be HER, and be able to fill that hole she left. I felt like a stranger looking at a story unfold, and yet..this was my flesh and blood. Unlike paul, most of the players in our story arent interested in altruistic kindhearted reapir, they mostly want to keep the wounds open and keep on hurting one another. No one seems to understand that it is the children...even the grown ones...who pay the price for something they had no part in. I was like paul in some ways, I wanted to go in and rescue my little sister from the hands of the wrong family and put her back where she belonged, in ours. But I found out she didnt need or want rescue, and she was happy enough in the life she had. That was a hard thing to understand then, and as the years pass, it gets harder to understand. I think someday I will probably find her again, but we will be old by then, with no parents left to hurt, and maybe we will find our way to be sisters like we should have been.
As you can see, this book opened up some tough doors for me. But I think it was a wonderful book. Thank you for writing it. I am thinking about sharing it with my mother, but Im not sure if we are strong enough to survive the fallout.

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momtofourgirls
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PostPosted: October 08 2006, 11:10 AM    Post subject:
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Wow! That must have been intense. Thanks for sharing that story.. you write beautifully- at first I thought it was a quote from the book Very Happy

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mesmom
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PostPosted: October 09 2006, 8:01 AM    Post subject:
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Michelle, I read your thread last night before I went to bed. I had every intention of going to sleep early, as today is a busy day. Somehow your thread got my curiousity going, and I did not put the book down until I had it all read, at 2:00 this morning! I am glad we will be discussing it, and I am not sure how I feel about some of it. How ever, it was interesting enough to keep my attention till it was done. Which, is amazing these days with how busy I am. I am praying for you and your sister, and I do hope you will reach out to her. You both deserve it. I am from a blended family, from my dad dying when I was two. I think knowing your blood, no matter how well you knew them growing up, is so important as an adult. I hope you and your sister will have that opportunity. It is way more important than the whys of years ago. I will keep you both in my prayers. And yes, you could write a book as well. When you do, let me know, I will buy it. Love ya Michelle. You are an inspiration to many.

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jennifergg
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PostPosted: October 10 2006, 7:01 PM    Post subject:
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What a tremendous post. And I can already tell that I am going to really enjoy book discussions here. I never really thought about the adoption angle of the Memory Keeper's Daughter, and all of the interviews I've read with Kim Edwards focus on the DS, not the adoption. It's a great point, one that you raise so well, and I am curious about the author's response, too. Thank you for bringing it up.

When I get time to frame my thoughts, I hope to ask about the twins angle. I am really interested in that, as the mom of twins, one with DS and one not. (Mine are both boys, however).

There is much to discuss here ladies! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and the ways in which the book touched your lives.

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ciarrasmom
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PostPosted: October 10 2006, 9:33 PM    Post subject:
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you guys are good therapy. Wink Thanks, you made my day.

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Terri G
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PostPosted: October 10 2006, 11:36 PM    Post subject:
okay now I have to buy this book
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I was looking at this yesterday and punched through to Amazon and read some of those reviews, some which were negative. However, after reading these discussions I just purchased the book on Amazon so I'm really looking forward to receiving it.

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Mary Beth
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PostPosted: October 11 2006, 10:04 PM    Post subject:
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I just finished the book today. I liked it and I felt sorry for David as it would have been very hard to keep that kind of secret. I'm looking forward to reading more about what the rest of you felt about this book.
Michelle, Your experiences has made you who you are. You are a strong woman and I hope someday you will be able to discuss what happened to your family with your mother just to clear the air.
Mary Beth

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Terri G
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PostPosted: October 18 2006, 5:23 AM    Post subject:
Very Powerful Book
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Well it came on Saturday and I couldn't put it down & just finished it. I was startled at first when March of 1964 popped up because that's when I was born myself. However when I got to the part about the Memorial Service and the date of birth was March 7, 1964, my heart jumped. That is the day I was born in Hammond, IN, in the middle of a snow storm, with my mother knocked out during my birth towards the end with gas too. I couln't get over that coincidence or coinkydink as my late grandmother would say and kept reading whenever I got the chance. I didn't feel too sorry for David though but for me it was the immediate reaction to send Phoebe away and that stayed with me. It was sad though the secret he kept. I am passing this book on to my mother to read. I was telling her about it this weekend during the quake when we weren't supposed to be on the phone. However, the kids were asleep and I had a lot of time to read (it was so hot in the house and muggy with rain the kids just slept). As I read the book I also thinking about how blessed we have been with Mary Catherine in our lives. I read some of the comments on Amazon and I feel that the people whose lives aren't touched by this really didn't understand the book or grasp it's full meaning. Maybe I'm wrong but I really feel that way. I throughly enjoyed the book and am so glad I read it! Thanks for picking the book!

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