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by Marjolijn Hof & translated by Johanna H. Prins & Johanna W. Prins

Age Range: 10 - 13

Pub Date: April 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-55498-078-9
Publisher: Groundwood

In a simply written tale realistically built on half-formed questions and incomplete answers, a young adoptee suddenly starts thinking about his birth mother. Fejzo—Fay—has always known he was given up for adoption in the Netherlands by a refugee from the war in Bosnia. The probing queries of a nosy new girl he meets in a local park lead him to wonder for the first time about who and where his “mother number zero” (not “number one,” because that would make his current mother “number two,” and that seems wrong to him) might be, and to ask his loving adoptive parents for more information. Rather than lay out this line of enquiry’s potentially devastating effects on Fay’s psyche and family life, Hof lets readers do their own figuring. She provides hints through the way Fay’s questioning upsets his parents, draws him repeatedly into worried “Are you sure you want to know?” exchanges and sends his older sister Ping (also adopted, but as an abandoned baby) into fits of rage and tears. Ultimately Fay does win indirect contact with his biological mother and comes away with a picture and a promise that, maybe, in a few years, there might be more. By the end he’s wise enough to be willing to wait. Readers able to look between the lines will find plenty to ponder here. (Fiction. 10-13)