The Memoir

3 Jul

Thanks for all the book suggestions last month. I took none of them & settled on a stack of memoirs instead. 😉

The first one I read was The Unwanted by Kien Nguyen. His story was about his life growing up in Vietnam, post war, as an Amerasian child. Nguyen’s story is filled with hardship & heartache. He endures some pretty awful treatment due to his heritage. What I found most interesting & highly unlikely is that Kien & his brother lived with their unwed, rich, business-owner mother. She was not shy about her many liason’s with American solider’s (producing 2 sons) & was known in the community for offering herself for favors. I have a hard time with believing that to be true. What little I know about Vietnamese culture wouldn’t allow for a women leading that kind of lifestyle to be a business owner, much less a respected one. Possibly Nguyen is trying to find some redeeming qualities in his mother by creating a different history for her. It makes me wonder how much of the story is true & whether this book might be better labeled as a book of fiction. Either way it was a compelling read. Nguyen is a talented story-teller.

The next book was Have You Found Her by Janice Erlbaum. Her book was about trying to save a drug addicted teen. It was an okay book. About halfway through, I could see exactly what was going to happen, but it took the author a lot longer to figure out what was actually going on. The book was not really that compelling. I found I could put it aside for days at a time.

My favorite book was Switching Time by Richard Baer. This book was excellent. Dr. Baer writes about his 18 year experience in treating Karen Overhill, a woman with 17 personalities. The dr. & patient collaborated on the book. I found Karen’s system of dealing with her life fascinating. The abuse she suffered was horrific. More than once I wondered how the dr. could restrain himself from harming the people that did such awful things to Karen. There are some disturbing accounts of abuse, but over all, the book was just plain fascinating. This was a book I had a hard time putting down. The dr. can come across as a little full of himself but I didn’t find it that off putting. In a sense, he earned the right to be that way. The work he & Karen did together was obviously the most challenging & fulfilling of his professional life. It’s a good book, not a light hearted book by any means, but well worth a look.

The last book was a skin-crawling-cringe-fest about adoption. The book is called Two Little Girls by Theresa Reid. The book is written about her search first for a child, & then later about her search for a sister for the first child. It was awful. I know people enter into adoption with interesting motivations. I know people can be really naive about finding the right agency. This couple took narcisism to a new level. The first part of the book was okay. They made some ethical missteps in adopting their first child. In hindsight, we did too. I can get beyond that. The second part of the book is where I started to feel sick. After the couple has been home for a few years, the decide that while they think having only their perfect daughter is fine, they ultimately decide she really needs a sister. That was their motivation to adopt the second time. Not because there are children with no parents, but because their daughter needs a sister & who wants to disappoint the princess?

Many, many times, the couple comes across as having more money than sense. They spend thousands of dollars on different countries & different agencies looking for another perfect child. They of course, never find her. What they do find is a little girl that will be okay. They bring her home & then then author goes into way too much detail about how she really wishes she hadn’t adopted another child. She blows off obvious attachment issues because she’d rather not work on them, they might hurt the feelings of the princess if they are seen as spending time with the pauper. It was awful. Did I already say that? The author comes across as very unlikable in most of the book. She has absolutely no longing for the children she is searching for. She & her husband seem to take pleasure in recounting who made what disastrous decision. At one point they are sure they cannot accept their referral because the baby looks like she’s from ‘Nazi’ lineage & her husband is Jewish. Neither of the parents have any sympathy for the other families they encounter along the way. In the author’s travel group there is a family adopting a boy the author felt looked more like the child she’d always imagined. Later she finds out the child suffers from a severe attachment disorder & the author has no sympathy for the family or the child, just a “whew, that was close” attitude. Ick.

I did try to put myself in the authors Prada shoes but I honestly couldn’t remember feeling that detached about my daughter. Sure, in the beginning I resented her for taking me away from the boys. I wasn’t real fond of her in the middle of the night when she wouldn’t stop crying. I was ambivalent about her for longer than I care to admit. J~ easily bonded with T~, it took me much longer. However, even in my most ambivalent moments, I would have gladly thrown myself under a bus for her.

Adoption isn’t always done with the most altruistic motivations. I admit, I wanted a daughter, & I didn’t want to get pregnant again. Mostly though, I knew that adoption had blessed my life in many ways (I’m talking about you Jenny) & I knew I wanted to parent & love another child.

Those motivations may have been part of the authors reasons for adopting a second time. She just forgets to mention that. This book was awful, I know I already said that, do not read, do not recommend to others. It’s a travesty of a book & I hope the author’s child will never read this book & discover how unwanted she was.

I think I’m done reading memoirs for a while. I’m planning on revisiting a Harry Potter to get rid of the nasty taste of the last book. Or maybe I’ll stick with Newsweek for a while.



5 Responses to “The Memoir”

  1. Jenny July 3, 2008 at 2:25 pm #

    Awwwwwww … I blessed your life. Awwwwwwwww. You love me after all … even after I’m going to beat you in Scrabble.

  2. Lynn July 3, 2008 at 4:29 pm #

    Try “The Last Lecture”. I read it in about 6 hours at Shriners and couldn’t put it down. Every high school student should read it and parents too!

  3. Wendy July 4, 2008 at 6:59 pm #

    You need a funny novel- Try “Patty Jane’s House of Curl” by Lorna Landvick……cute and witty.

  4. mrsb July 6, 2008 at 10:24 am #

    Thanks for the book ideas. I am desperate for a good read, gonna head to the library today to see if they have Switching Time…it sounds sooooo good!

  5. christine July 6, 2008 at 9:37 pm #

    It was totally painful to read your review of that last book (I found you through a random search, by the way – we don’t know each other).

    Anywho – it’s good to know, in case I ever find myself tempted to read it. I agree with you, and worry so much that the book will end up in the hands of her children one day … heck I don’t want it in the hands of MY children!! It would crush them.

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