Before A.M. Homes was born, she was put up for adoption. Her birth mother was a 22-year-old single woman who was having an affair with a much older married man with children of his own. The Mistress's Daughter is the story of what happened when, 30 years later, her birth parents came looking for her.Homes, renowned for the psychological accuracy and emotional intensity of her storytelling, tells how her birth parents initially made contact with her and what happened afterward (her mother stalked her and appeared unannounced at a reading) and what she was able to reconstruct about the story of their lives and families. Her birth mother, a complex and lonely woman, never married or had another child, and she died of kidney failure in 1998. Her birth father, who initially made overtures about inviting her into his family, never did.The story then jumps forward several years, to when Homes opens the boxes of her mother's memorabilia. She had hoped to find her mother in those boxes, to know her secrets, but no relief came. She became increasingly obsessed with finding out as much as she could about all four parents and their families, even hiring researchers and spending hours poring through newspaper morgues, municipal archives, and genealogical Web sites. This brave, daring, and funny book is a story about what it means to be adopted, but it is also about identity and how all of us define our sense of self and family.More
"To my generation of writers, Homes is a kind of hero, and The Mistress's Daughter is the latest example of her fearlessness and brilliance. It is a compelling, devastating, and furiously good book written with an honesty that few of us would risk." (Zadie Smith)
"The Mistress's Daughter has the beguiling pull of mystery, memory, and surprise. I fell in love with it from the first page and read compulsively to the end. It lays bare those questions about our essential selves: How did we become who we are? What elements of inheritance, neglect, accident, and choice gave us our confused identity, our quirky personality, our urges to be wholly loved? As A.M. Homes shows, there are no definitive answers, but in our search for them, we find more important truths." (Amy Tan)
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Being a good listener rewards in the end
Ancestry buffs and adoptees will like it, but...