Tag Archives: Adoption

Book Buzz: Little Fires Everywhere

Book Buzz: Little Fires Everywhere

As I raced toward the explosive conclusion of Little Fires Everywhere, I simultaneously couldn’t wait to find out what happened but dreaded finishing this extraordinary read. You know that feeling, right?

I loved Celeste Ng’s debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, with every fiber of my being. It was a captivating story of race and prejudice and family dynamics, and it went on to win a ton of awards and made Ng a respected new voice in fiction.

Patiently, I waited for Ng’s sophomore novel to be released.

The wait was worth it, people.

Little Fires Everywhere is, well, brilliant.

Book Buzz: Little Fires Everywhere

 

Little Fires Everywhere

The story of two families in Shaker Heights, Ohio — Mr. and Mrs. Richardson and their four children, the “haves,” and Mia Warren and her daughter, Pearl, the “have nots,” whose lives intersect for a brief period of time and everything changes collossally for both families.

Elena Richardson is the matriarch — a Shaker Heights native whose expectations for her life followed a prescribed formula, just as the community itself had been one of the first planned communities in the U.S.

All she wanted was marriage, children, career, and a lovely home. And it pretty much worked out that way.

But then, Mia and her teenage daughter Pearl arrive on the scene. Looking for an affordable place to live, they rent a small house owned by the Richardsons. Mia is an independent thinker, an artist on the side; she needs to work several low-paying jobs to make ends meet. Pearl is a shy but friendly girl,  and is embraced by the Richardson family and spends most of her time hanging out with them.

In short order both mother and become more than tenants: each of the four Richardson children is drawn to these women, and Elena Richardson employs Mia as a part-time housekeeper.

Elena  is curious about Mia’s past, and feels prompted to nose around when Mia becomes intimately involved in a child custody case involving a friend Mia has met at one of her jobs.

The friend is a Chinese mother, Bebe, who abandoned her infant during a time of duress. The infant is given to the McCulloughs, friends of the Richardsons, who had struggled with infertility for years and were on an adoption waiting list. Now the baby is a year old, and the McCulloughs have assumed this child will be theirs forever.

But then Bebe reappears, and wants her daughter back.

The case divides the community, as well as the Richardson family. I won’t say more, because I don’t want to spoil it. Coincidentally, the novel I reviewed last week, Lucky Boy, had the same theme. In both books it is dealt with so compassionately and even-handedly. I admire both authors for being able to find compelling voices on both sides of an emotional issue.

Ng’s characters are so well drawn, each unique and credible, and truly, Shaker Heights itself must be counted as one of the protagonists. Shaker Heights, Ng’s hometown, was  planned with the best intentions and idealism, and although successful in some areas, it nonetheless is beset with the same race and class issues faced just about everywhere else.

I am sure that Little Fires Everywhere will have the same phenomenal success of Ng’s previous novel. Already, Amazon has named it a “Best Book of September 2017.”

And I sure hope Ng is working on her third.

 

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of Little Fires Everywhere. To enter this giveaway, click on the Books is Wonderful Facebook page and leave a comment. US addresses only, please. The winner will be randomly selected.

 

I received a copy of Little Fires Everywhere from Penguin Press for an honest review, which is is the only kind of review I write.

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Book Buzz: Lucky Boy

A hauntingly beautiful story and so achingly relevant for these times, Lucky Boy held onto my heart and still has it in its grasp.
Book Buzz: Lucky Boy

Lucky Boy

Lucky Boy is the story of two strong women: Soli, a teenager fleeing her native Mexico for a better life in northern California, and Kavya, daughter of immigrant Indian parents now living with her husband Rashi in upscale Berkeley — whose lives crash together in a torrential storm of love and loss.

Author Shanthi Sekaran is so seriously good at telling this story that you fall in love with both of these women — vulnerable, passionate and loving — even though their motivations are in stark opposition to each other’s.

Lucky Boy brings to light the struggles of undocumented immigrants thrust into a society so different from their own, where the norms and routines are true culture shock. They live in constant fear of being caught and sent back to their homeland that they had fled for good reasons. The only way to survive is to stay under the radar. Not make eye contact. Be invisible.

Lucky Boy is also about the heartbreak of infertility. Having known friends who have gone through this, I felt the anguish of Kavya and Rishi who have a wonderful life but are denied the one thing they want more than anything.

Soli survives a harrowing journey from Mexico and locates her cousin’s apartment where she will stay. The cousin is shocked at Soli’s appearance. She is dirty and gaunt from the trip, but she is also unwittingly pregnant. Nonetheless, she finds work for Soli as a housekeeper for a wealthy Berkeley family where she is treated well, even given paid leave when it is time for the baby to be born.

However, circumstances intervene and suddenly the cousin is being deported and Soli is sent to a detention center. Her infant son is taken away from her.

At the same time, Kavya and Rishi are desperate to conceive a child but in spite of lengthy and expensive fertility treatments they have not been successful. They decide to become foster parents, and as fate would have it, Soli’s baby boy comes into their welcoming arms.

Soli tries to survive the horror of the detention center, deprived of decent food and living conditions and repeatedly raped by guards. Barred from talking to a lawyer, she does not know where her son is and if she will get him back.

While Soli languishes at the detention center, Kavya and Rishi embrace parenthood and begin to forget that it is only temporary. They are in denial that their baby has a birth mother who is fighting to get him back.

Such an engrossing story with multi-dimensional characters, Lucky Boy would be a perfect choice for a book group because there are so many issues to ponder over. Immigration, motherhood, privilege … this novel will open your eyes to injustices in our broken system.

There could not be a better time for us to become enlightened.

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of Lucky Boy. Please leave a comment on the Books is Wonderful Facebook page and a winner will be randomly selected. US addresses only, please.

 

I received a copy of Lucky Boy from Putnam for an honest review,
which is the only kind of review I write.

 

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We Adopted a Puppy: A Love Story

Do you ever look for signs in the universe? I confess that I do.

Call me crazy, but I believe the universe whispers to us. The problem is we don’t always hear it.

I pay attention to veiled signals and the sigh of a message in the wind, that could be nothing … or something. Life is mostly random, but if we listen closely there are lessons to be learned.

Which is a long winded explanation of why we adopted a puppy.

We Adopted a Puppy

We lost our beloved 13 year-old dog Duncan just after Thanksgiving.

We were shattered and bereft.  We had done everything we could to prolong his life, but when his suffering could no longer be eased it was time to say goodbye.

Anyone who has lost a pet knows the strange stillness of the house, the phantom nuzzlings at night, the leftover treats, the empty spaces once filled with furry joy, the toys. I had been home with Duncan all day. My world revolved around his schedule.

Our friends and family, especially those who had known Duncan, were unfailingly compassionate. My children, all living at a distance, were concerned. What about another dog?

No, was my quick reply. It is too soon. We are not done mourning him.

But then, there was a sign. And another sign.

Sign #1

A notice popped up on my community’s Facebook page.  A dog rescue organization had several litters of puppies that were being transported from a shelter in South Carolina to an adoption fair five minutes from our house.

I reread the ad. I clicked on the link to the website of Home at Last Dog Rescue. I read about its mission and I scanned the profiles of the puppies hoping to be adopted.

I thought for a moment. Well, it wouldn’t hurt to fill out the online application. Even though it wasn’t the right time for another dog. Anyway, they probably wouldn’t be able to process the application in time for Saturday. They had to check my references, contact my vet, make a home visit.

In order to complete the application, I had to select the dog I wanted to adopt. I selected Eagle, a 9 week-old mixed breed puppy.

The day before the adoption fair I got a call that our application had been approved. They could do the home visit the next day, assuming we brought the puppy home.

I called my husband. “What do you think?” I asked him.

“I’m ready if you are,” he said.

Sign #2

If we get the puppy, he will need a name, I thought. What would we call him? I racked my brain. From past experience, I knew it took time to find the perfect name. I was coming up empty.

I thought and thought, and then the name Max popped into my mind. I liked the sound of it.

So when my husband got home and we started making plans for the visit to the adoption fair, he asked me if I had thought of names. I said, you tell me, do you have any ideas?

“You know what name I really like?” he said. “Max.”

Sign #3

I stopped at the pet store to pick up a few toys. Just in case we brought home the dog. A wave of happiness surged through me, something I hadn’t felt since Duncan got so sick. It felt right that we were getting a dog.

I thought I could never love another dog the way I loved Duncan. But I was ready to try.

Sign #4

We got to the adoption fair and there he was in a wire-enclosed pen. Eagle the mixed breed puppy. He was playful yet calm and he snuggled when we held him. I just noticed that my husband was wearing his Eagles sweatshirt. Coincidence?

We Adopted a Puppy

We put him back in the pen and walked around to observe the other puppies, all of them cute, of course. When we walked back to Eagle’s pen, I put my fingers through the small opening. He ran over to me and licked my hand.

I was convinced. My husband was convinced. Max, once known as Eagle, came home that day.

We are puppy parents.

He watches me when I get ready in the morning. He sleeps by my feet as I work at the computer. He loves to play fetch and scamper in our back yard. He does not like cheese. He tolerates his crate. He responds to “sit” and “down.” The leash perplexes him.

This is Max.

We Adopted a Puppy

Our lives as puppy parents are way busier now, but we know that this was meant to be. Max was meant to be.

The signs were all there.

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