SEARCHING FOR THE CASTLE by Barbara Leigh Ohrstrom


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A woman’s ardent odyssey to retrace her path from foster care to adoption, reconstructed through court documents and annotated with honest musings on how and why her family fell apart.

Though adopted at age 5, Ohrstrom begins her debut memoir in adolescence, when her twin brother pulled from the fog of their dysfunctional childhood the siblings’ birth surname. This single clue set off the author’s journey to find their birth parents: The story takes the tone of a detailed diary, with the same events rehashed at several points. Ohrstrom struggled to uncover information about her birth family and to understand the distance she felt from her siblings, who didn’t share the same desire to learn about their past. The narrator cycled through angst, betrayal and eventual acceptance. Unfortunately, significant events are left unexamined, in particular the decision to run away from her adoptive family. Given the great lengths Ohrstrom goes to explain the arc of her family’s saga before her birth and during her childhood, there are wide gaps in her own history. The sections lump together therapylike entries and official letters written to various government agencies with document requests. The narrator makes some attempt to use these documents as guideposts, tethering to reality her stream-of-consciousness responses, especially the reactions to her mother’s hospital records from her various stays at mental institutions during the 1950s and ’60s. But at times, the re-creations of Ohrstrom’s discovery process read like scenes from a television crime drama, revelatory in a flamboyant way, with projections about her parents’ personalities and motives serving as a way to explain what happened to her.

An absorbing story, still fresh from the pain of adoption and loss.

Pub Date: Dec. 9th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1491713075
Page count: 178pp
Publisher: iUniverse
Program: Kirkus Indie
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