In this memoir, a mother recalls a two-year struggle to retrieve her abducted children from her ex-husband overseas.
In mid-March 1994, Meredith (When Push Comes to Shove, 2015, etc.) writes, her former spouse kidnapped their two young daughters from Alaska and took them to his native country of Greece. Over the next two years, she tried to locate the girls and bring them back to her Alaska home, all while navigating a bureaucratic and legal labyrinth in a foreign culture. This book is a remarkably eloquent and harrowing account of a journey that would tax any parent. “Get ready for the fight of your life, kid,” her boss at a battered women’s shelter warned her. “There won’t be a quick fix for this one.” Betty Mahmoody’s Not Without My Daughter (1987) navigated similar territory, but Meredith brings a unique perspective to her story, shaped by her own childhood. She says that her mother—who “fancied herself a Hollywood starlet waiting to be discovered”—abandoned her when she was 13. “She unloaded her stress on the children before she began unloading the children themselves,” the author notes with typical bluntness. The author didn’t want her own daughter “growing up in a broken home like I did,” but her marriage ended in March 1990 after, she says, her husband tried to strangle her. She was awarded custody of their two girls but that didn’t prevent him from kidnapping them four years later, she writes. “Not even the electric chair or a lifetime in jail would keep me from blowing your brains out if you ever come close to the girls again,” she says that he told her after she made an initial, abortive trip to Greece to retrieve them. Meredith draws readers into her excruciating quest with her command of detail and language: the wife of one of her Greek lawyers is “inexplicably comforting to look at, like a human quilt,” and an American expatriate married to a Greek man lives in a home that “comes with all the amenities, including his mother and his childhood furnishings.” The author encounters one obstacle after another, including being arrested in Greece and then sued by her ex-husband for violating a Greek custody order. The book’s conclusion could hardly be a more resounding tribute to the human spirit.
A unique perspective on a harrowing Greek odyssey.