Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Review of 'A Brief Chapter in my Impossible Life' by Dana Reinhardt

 "Simone has always felt different, though her life seems pretty normal.  Her mom's a lawyer for the ACLU, so she's grown up spending her Saturdays outside the food co-op, gathering signatures for worthy causes.  Her dad's a political cartoonist who does most of the work around the house.  Her little brother is a jock who seems to know how to do everything just right.  Her best friend has a new boyfriend and is probably about to start having sex.  And Simone has a crush on a really smart and funny guy who spends all of his time with another girl.

But you can tell what really makes Simone different just by looking at her: she doesn't resemble anyone in her family.  She's adopted.  She's always known it, but she's never wanted to know anything about where she came from.  She's happy with her family just as it is, thank you.

Then one day, Rivka calls, and Simone learns who her mother was-- a sixteen-year-old, just like Simone.  Who is Rivka?  What does she want?  Why is she calling now, after all these years?  The answers lead Simone to deeper feelings of anguish and love than she has ever known and prompt her to question everything she has taken for granted about faith, life, the afterlife, and what is means to be a daughter.

Dana Reinhardt's brilliant debut is the irresistible story of the unexpected blessings that fate has in store for Simone."

Finally, a book that has to do with one of my other challenges!

This was a very interesting read.  I liked that this wasn't your typical adoption story (in some ways).  For instance, Simone wasn't particularly upset about being adopted.  She didn't miss her biological mother or father because she didn't know them to start with.  I appreciated the level of (my perceived) reality that Dana Reinhardt included in Simone's adoption story.

There were a few unusual things though.  I found it a little astonishing that Simone wasn't even remotely curious about who her parents were until she actually met Rivka.  In my imagination, kids who are in a similar situation as Simone (as in, they didn't know they're parents themselves) are, at the very least, a little bit curious about who their parents are.  This probably isn't reality though.  Everyone is different.

Another thing that felt unusual is that Rivka was the one to contact Simone, not the other way around.  I always thought that it was up to the child to decide when they want to know about their biological parents and whether or not they want to meet them.  I understand Rivka's situation, but when you're just starting to read this, it might seem a little strange.

One thing I really liked about this book was the Jewish element to it.  Really, it's such a beautiful religion and lifestyle.  The traditions that Rivka introduced to Simone, who initially proclaimed herself to be Atheist, were really quite interesting.  I loved to read about the traditions for the various occasions.  I like the idea of Shabbat.  Judaism seems to have become a theme for me in the past few months.  I may need to do some more investigating.

Something else I didn't really appreciate about this book were the interpersonal relationships.  Simone's adoptive family didn't really have conflicts with each other.  They were okay with Simone giving up their house to host parties.  Simone has a problem with her best friend's boyfriend, but she never does or says anything about it.  Simone and her own boyfriend hit it off perfectly-- little to no awkwardness.  So this is more of a boo about discovering one's self and the power of family.

Overall, an interesting read that, despite its small downfalls, is sure to please the masses.

I give 'A Brief Chapter in my Impossible Life':
Thanks for Reading!


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