A heartwarming account, still relevant even though out-of-wedlock birth is no longer stigmatized and the concept of family...
Celebrity investigative genealogist Slaton, well known to TV audiences for her success in reuniting nearly 3,000 adoptees with their birth families, writes about her experiences.
The author was featured in hip-hop star Darryl “DMC” McDaniels' Emmy-winning documentary My Adoption Journey; she helped him conduct an on-camera search for his birth family. McDaniels only learned about his adoption in his mid 30s, and he was planning to write an autobiography. The experience of finding his mother was transformative, turning him into an advocate for open adoption—and also for Slaton, who through her work on the documentary also became a public figure (she now has her own TV show on the Oprah Winfrey Network). An adopted child herself, the author’s sleuthing career began 15 years ago when her husband hired an investigator to locate her birth mother. Although she was raised by a loving adoptive family, Slaton had always wondered about her roots. “Searching for one's origins means nothing less than validating one's own existence,” she writes. The author tells about finding her own extended birth family and the touching stories of some of the clients she has helped. In most instances the parents who had given up their child for adoption were overjoyed to meet their adult children. This was not true of Slaton’s mother, however. Not only did she refuse to meet her daughter, but she also lied, telling the author that she was the child of an incestuous relationship. The experience was so distressing that Slaton became active in KinQuest, a support group for adoptees that helps them reconnect with their birth families. The author also found her father, and her involvement in KinQuest set her on a new career path as an investigator.A heartwarming account, still relevant even though out-of-wedlock birth is no longer stigmatized and the concept of family has broadened.
Pub Date: May 8, 2012
Page Count: 256
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Review Posted Online: March 25, 2012
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012
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by Helen Fremont ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 11, 2020
A vivid sequel that strains credulity.
Fremont (After Long Silence, 1999) continues—and alters—her story of how memories of the Holocaust affected her family.
At the age of 44, the author learned that her father had disowned her, declaring her “predeceased”—or dead in his eyes—in his will. It was his final insult: Her parents had stopped speaking to her after she’d published After Long Silence, which exposed them as Jewish Holocaust survivors who had posed as Catholics in Europe and America in order to hide multilayered secrets. Here, Fremont delves further into her tortured family dynamics and shows how the rift developed. One thread centers on her life after her harrowing childhood: her education at Wellesley and Boston University, the loss of her virginity to a college boyfriend before accepting her lesbianism, her stint with the Peace Corps in Lesotho, and her decades of work as a lawyer in Boston. Another strand involves her fraught relationship with her sister, Lara, and how their difficulties relate to their father, a doctor embittered after years in the Siberian gulag; and their mother, deeply enmeshed with her own sister, Zosia, who had married an Italian count and stayed in Rome to raise a child. Fremont tells these stories with novelistic flair, ending with a surprising theory about why her parents hid their Judaism. Yet she often appears insensitive to the serious problems she says Lara once faced, including suicidal depression. “The whole point of suicide, I thought, was to succeed at it,” she writes. “My sister’s completion rate was pathetic.” Key facts also differ from those in her earlier work. After Long Silence says, for example, that the author grew up “in a small city in the Midwest” while she writes here that she grew up in “upstate New York,” changes Fremont says she made for “consistency” in the new book but that muddy its narrative waters. The discrepancies may not bother readers seeking psychological insights rather than factual accuracy, but others will wonder if this book should have been labeled a fictionalized autobiography rather than a memoir.A vivid sequel that strains credulity.
Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020
Page Count: 352
Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019
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A straightforward tale of kindness and paying it forward in 1980s New York.
When advertising executive Schroff answered a child’s request for spare change by inviting him for lunch, she did not expect the encounter to grow into a friendship that would endure into his adulthood. The author recounts how she and Maurice, a promising boy from a drug-addicted family, learned to trust each other. Schroff acknowledges risks—including the possibility of her actions being misconstrued and the tension of crossing socio-economic divides—but does not dwell on the complexities of homelessness or the philosophical problems of altruism. She does not question whether public recognition is beneficial, or whether it is sufficient for the recipient to realize the extent of what has been done. With the assistance of People human-interest writer Tresniowski (Tiger Virtues, 2005, etc.), Schroff adheres to a personal narrative that traces her troubled relationship with her father, her meetings with Maurice and his background, all while avoiding direct parallels, noting that their childhoods differed in severity even if they shared similar emotional voids. With feel-good dramatizations, the story seldom transcends the message that reaching out makes a difference. It is framed in simple terms, from attributing the first meeting to “two people with complicated pasts and fragile dreams” that were “somehow meant to be friends” to the conclusion that love is a driving force. Admirably, Schroff notes that she did not seek a role as a “substitute parent,” and she does not judge Maurice’s mother for her lifestyle. That both main figures experience a few setbacks yet eventually survive is never in question; the story fittingly concludes with an epilogue by Maurice. For readers seeking an uplifting reminder that small gestures matter.
Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011
Page Count: 288
Publisher: Howard Books/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: July 26, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011
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