A debut novella about a grandmother’s hope to be reunited with her granddaughter, who was given up for adoption.
Handsome, 22-year-old Ian McKinney confesses to his mother, blunt and strong-willed Anna Weber: the young woman he was dating this past summer, Tara Harper, is pregnant with his child. The circumstances throw Ian’s life into turmoil, especially because he now loves and is planning to marry a young woman named Shari Adams. Ian assumes Tara will have an abortion, but at the last minute, Anna makes a few calls pretending to be Tara’s mother, which eventually result in giving Tara the morale boost she needs to keep the baby; she decides, however, to give the little girl, Stephanie, up for adoption. Anna is allowed to put a note in Stephanie’s Social Services file, provided she discloses no identifying information. She writes such a note and, as she tells her husband, puts “clues” in the hopes that they might one day lead Stephanie to her biological family. Livingston then shifts a large portion of her narrative to the life of Stephanie, now called Sadie Leigh, who lives in a different city as the cherished child of dental assistant Claire Ayers. As she grows older, Sadie Leigh’s increasing curiosity about her biological parents is neatly juxtaposed with Anna’s unresolved feelings of sadness and longing: “Losing Stephanie was like a death without a funeral,” she thinks. Author Livingston sets her characters in the deepest currents of this complexly personal plot without overly simplifying any of the issues involved; for instance, neither the child’s biological or adoptive parents are pure or infallible. Similarly well-orchestrated are the dramatizations of grown-up Sadie’s life and, in the novella’s climactic section, her convoluted search for her genetic roots, allowing readers to sympathize equally with each of the main characters. Dialogue can be a bit stilted, but characters, especially Stephanie/Sadie, consistently feel authentic. Readers having personal experience with adoption will find it sensitively handled here.
Effective drama about the tenacity of family love.