After discovering that she was adopted, debut author Duren set out to find her birth mother and uncover her biological roots.
From a very young age, the author suspected that she might not be biologically related to her immediate family members. She looked different from them, for one thing, and often found herself emotionally isolated from her mother and brother. She occasionally asked her parents if she was adopted and they always waved off the question—until one day, her father simply admitted that she was. She was 15 at the time, and from that day forward, she was committed to finding her biological mother. She chronicles her long journey in a story involving decades-old records, helpful friends, unsupportive family members, old yearbooks, two private detectives, multiple phone calls with people who knew more than they admitted, and years of patient waiting. Along the way, Duren reveals bits and pieces of her own personal life, which included three marriages, four children, a brief time living in Germany, a successful career as a photographer, and a lifelong love of theater. In her quest, she encountered encouragement and discouragement from various parties, ultimately building her own support system, comprised of friends who loved her and were equally invested in her search. Duren writes somberly about serious events in her life (her adoptive parents’ aging, the slow pain of waiting for news, chasing dead ends), but her quirky sense of humor emerges throughout her memoir as she muses on her own insecurities and fantasies. She jokes about imaginary best-case and worst-case scenarios, writes silly captions for photographs (such as one that compares her haircut and her son’s), and recounts her childhood memories with fondness and amusement. In writing this delightful memoir, Duren ultimately explores the difference between the family we’re given and the family we choose. Readers will be left feeling satisfied by the hopeful ending to her search.
A charming, relatable memoir on adoption, love, and identity.