*** photo taken in Cannon Beach, OR on vacation last September. And I'm afraid there's been a misunderstanding. I have participated in target practice with men who have a penchant for dipping tobacco. I have never spit tobacco. Ew. I may be a plate-licking, fall-down-in-the-middle-of-a-busy-intersection wood chopper (I can TOO do that), but I promise, you'll find no snuff ring in my back pocket. I use my plastic gas-station cups as heaven intended... drinking enamel eroding coke. Not spitting. Now, let's all put our serious hats on for this book review.
I recently finished reading Somebody Else’s Daughter by Elizabeth Brundage for Trish at TLC Book Tours. The book begins with Nate Gallagher and his dying girlfriend as they give up their baby, Willa, for adoption to a wealthy couple living in the Berkshires. Years later, Nate finds himself moving back to that community and teaching in the expensive school Willa (who is now a teenager) attends. There are many different characters that live in the beautifully described rural community, and they're skillfully interwoven together. But somehow, for me, the book always comes back to Willa (for a more in depth review, click here.)
I have to say, this book was, at times, pretty darn graphic. Not graphic in a Danielle Steele, romancy, smutty sort of way, but Elizabeth addresses some hard issues (drug addiction, abuse, eating disorders, perversion) in a pretty stark way. I understand that Elizabeth is seriously and realistically addressing the objectification of women, the abuse they suffer. But at the same time, brace yourselves. I read some parts with one eye closed and the other squinted.
I particularly enjoyed the honest way Elizabeth approached adoption. I have family members that are near and dear to me who are adopted, and I’ve always bristled at the ignorance they’ve encountered. Whenever someone looks at an adopted child, someone who has only ever known and loved the one set of parents who raised them, and says, “Do you know who your real mom is?” it makes me nuts. I’m a firm believer that ‘real parents’ are the people who love you, care for you, and devote their lives to you. That is real family. Has anyone else ever encountered that kind of thing? I hope I'm not the only one that feels that way.
Again, this book is not for the faint of heart. It is not going to make you feel good afterward, and I promise I'm not sheltered, or squeamish. It reminded me of being a counselor at a summer camp for 11 weeks after my freshman year. For the majority of the summer I had a cabin full of girls from foster care. I heard stories and confessions from those kids that still make me cringe in the night. So I understand the side of life Elizabeth is addressing, I understand what abuse and addiction looks like. I just didn't particularly care to revisit it.
On the flip side, it's a well written book. Elizabeth writes beautifully, describing people and settings with absolute and breathtaking clarity. I adored Willa, I rooted for her and twisted my hands for her when she was in danger. Willa was shining star of the book. I loved this particular quote about her, and I’ll leave you with it.
“She wanted to fight the world sometimes. She imagined herself on a galloping horse, holding a spear like Joan of Arc. She just wanted to be different. She wanted to be free. She wanted to travel. To wear long skirts with bells on her ankles. She wanted to go to India. She wanted to fall in love. She wanted to fall madly in love with someone who would whisper to her and write songs about her. She wanted to have babies, lots and lots of babies, and live on a farm somewhere and grow her hair down her back. She would be very beautiful. These things would happen, she knew. One day.”