Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Book Review: The Red Thread by Ann Hood

Last week I talked about how life events show up in my writing, and how I like watching for the unusual or quirky behaviors in people because these are the things that make a character believable. Makes them imperfect. Makes them come to life.

Then, I found a novel with a title that hits directly at the heart of my novel. I HAD to read that book!

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The Red Thread, by Ann Hood was written in 2010. It is a story of six American couples, each who want to adopt a baby girl from China. It’s also the story of six Chinese parents who, because of China’s One Child Family Planning Law, are forced to give up their baby girls.

The six American couples have complicated and sometimes overwhelming ordeals in their quest to build a family.  But the Chinese mothers’ stories just broke my heart.

**Spoiler Alert!**
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One young mother tried to keep her child hidden from the community because she already had a nine year old daughter. She would have been able to keep the second child had it been a son. (This part of the story is not fiction, but LAW!) She was tricked into helping another family member and left the sleeping baby unattended for a moment. Her husband when in the bedroom and took the baby away.

A teenage girl got pregnant and her boyfriend took off when he found out. When the baby girl was born, the teen had to sneak to the park with her newborn and abandon it there- hoping that she would be found before it was too late.

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Another mother had twins. Like the mom with a second child, she could have kept both if one had been a boy and one a girl, but since both twins were girls, she had to make a decision on which one to keep and which one to let go. (Talk about Sophie’s Choice!)

There are three more stories like this, each one devastating.
The American parents have their own regrets and pasts to work through in order to adopt a baby from China. It’s a soul wrenching story that, I believe, people who have never experienced adoption could completely understand. This story gives us a glimpse of that emotional upheaval.

The epilogue is eloquent torture. Ann Hood puts the words together in emotional beauty and my only regret in this story is that it seemed to end fairly abruptly.

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I wished I could have known more about why some of the characters made the decisions that they made. Did Sophie ever forgive Theo, and why is she staying with him? Nell, a powerful business woman, does everything she can to have a baby. Why did she think she needed a baby in her life anyway, and why did she realize she was making a big mistake only after she was on the flight to China? Did Maya ever forgive herself? Could she trust herself with a child?

I guess a good story gives you food for thought, huh?

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In the acknowledgements Ann Hood shares with us that she lost a baby daughter and that she and her family went through the adoption process for a baby girl from China. This fact blew me away! I don’t know how this woman, this mother, this author-lady could even write a story like this! She’s a super hero in my book.

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Ann Hood has written several adult novels, her newest, The Book That Matters Most, released in August 2016, is getting good reviews. I know that I’ll be reading it, along with all her others.

I send my love to all adoptive families. And to my favorite “baby”, David, I’m so blessed to have you in my life.

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself.


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