Monday, October 30, 2006

A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life

Book: A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life
Author: Dana Reinhardt
Published: 2006

Simone has always known that she’s adopted. It’s kind of hard to miss. But it’s not something she dwells on. Her parents are great, and even her brother isn’t that annoying. She bumps along just fine until the day her parents announce at the dinner table that Rivka called, and wants her to call back.

Rivka is her birth mother, who wants to meet her daughter before she dies.

In spite of her doubts and hesitation, Simone finally agrees to call Rivka back. Over a period of months (and in between other life events) she cautiously gets to know her birth mother. In the process, she starts to learn how her mother’s faith as a Jewish woman informs her life, and begins to work out how she herself, raised by atheists, might feel about God.

This has to be the gentlest adoptive mother renunion story I’ve ever read. The parents are great. The birth mom is great. Heck, except for some initial internal conflict, even sixteen-year-old Simone is great. There’s none of the angst and drama of many other adoption/reunion stories, where there are horrible scenes of whyyyyyyyy did you give me up, and you’re not my real mother and if I love you I betray my real parents. Reinhardt takes a different path. There's not even the drawn-out hideous angst of a mother dying of cancer. Sure, it's sad (I definitely cried at the end), but Reinhardt instead chooses to show the quiet bravery and acceptance with which Rivka faces her coming death, and how Simone absorbs some of that strength.

The real question of this book is not, will Simone ever come to accept her birth mother? She does. She has. It’s, will Simone ever work out how God is going to fit into her life? And nothing distracts from that. Wonderful, thoughtful, sad, lovely.

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