Adopted by Canadians as a baby from China, Kelly’s trying to deal with her disheartening new life since her previously loving father walked out on the family.
Kelly’s angry with her father for abruptly leaving and completely cutting off contact but even more with her mother, whom she blames for driving him away by expecting too much in the face of his carefree—or according to her mother, irresponsible—lifestyle. She discovers that her mother’s planned for the two of them to travel to Kelly’s “Finding Place,” the spot in China where she was discovered abandoned as a newborn, in an effort to patch up their shaky relationship. Kelly finds a way to contact her father, emailing him that she wants to join him after the trip instead of living with her mother. Kelly’s tight narration narrows the focus down to her, contributing to readers’ sense of her unappealing self-absorption, as she almost completely fails to understand her mother’s situation and the full extent of her father’s betrayal. Only as her mother becomes seriously ill in China does Kelly learn from her of the true nature of her father’s bad behavior. A newly acquired maturity neatly enables adjustment to her new reality.
Although at first glance this unremarkable novel is about international adoption, set against a well-realized Chinese backdrop, the true focus is on the consequences of abandonment. (Fiction. 11-16)