Have you ever read a book that reminded you to be grateful for the family that loves you? To appreciate just a bit more the sacrifices that your parents have made for you? To try and be a better daughter, sister, mother one day?
This is a story about love – not only the romantic type, but also between mothers and daughters and all the people we take for granted in our everyday lives. It is also a story of finding one’s identity, putting all the puzzle pieces together that make up the picture of who we are, where we come from, what defines us. A story of sacrifice driven by love for an unborn child. A story of forgiveness.
The book follows two stories, intertwined but one in the past and the other in the present. We hear two voices, two points of view, and as the story unravels slowly, layer by layer, each voice helps us to complete the picture. The first voice we hear is Sydney’s, we follow her from her late teens to the present time. We find out who she is, where she came from, who her staples in life have been. Sydney is a determined, confident, intelligent young woman with a somewhat troublesome relationship with her mother, a woman who in Sydney’s eyes “wiped her feet” at her daughter’s self-esteem on a daily basis. She envies the bond that her mother has with her older sister and I believe that gives her the foundations for the type of mother she never wanted to be one day.
Sydney meets the love of her life, Ethan, during the last few months of high school. It is a match made in Heaven, their connection quickly developing into a life-long bond of friendship and mutual affection. But soon they find themselves in separate cities, in college, and in a long-distance relationship over a long period of time. At the very end of her college life, Sydney makes a mistake, a small mistake as it wasn’t premeditated or made while in full possession of her faculties, but a life-determining mistake nonetheless. And she finds herself pregnant, alone, broke, carrying the child of a man who openly says he doesn’t want anything to do with her or the baby. This is where her true character really shines – she decided to keep the baby, against all odds and fully aware that she would be sacrificing a whole lot more than just sleep at night. She would be losing Ethan.
“Having to sacrifice you to have this baby will destroy me, so I hope that in time you can find a way to forgive me.”
But her love for her unborn baby is instant and she never, not even once regrets her decision to keep it. What follows is an elegantly and delicately written personal account of the fears of a young woman faced with an unplanned pregnancy and having to go through it on her own. We hear her fears that she won’t be a good mother, that her child would resent her for her decisions and that she won’t be able to give her the kind of life she deserves.
“Would we be more like friends than mother-daughter? Would she think I was annoying? What insecurities would she have? Would she hate me for not being married?”
She could be any one of us and we feel for her deeply. But her tale is not a sad one, it is also a story of hope and forever laced with humour and a positive outlook on life. Sydney never feels sorry for herself and by doing so she never allows us to feel anything but respect for her. She does the best she can, believing in the rightness of her choices and driven forward by her love for her baby.
The second voice we hear is Grace’s. Grace is Sydney’s daughter and we meet her when she is ten years old. The discovery that her dad is not her biological father shakes her to the core, she finds herself with life-altering questions her young mind is unable to process. Those questions form a void in her, an almost primal need to define both sources of her origin and those doubts follow her throughout her teen years and into her twenties. She has a wonderful loving family, a dad that has raised her since she was two years old and loved her as if she were his own, but her journey is not just about finding her real father, it is also about extinguishing that need in her to find him.
“Everyone thinks that I have all these expectations of you, and I really don’t. It’s really been more of a burning curiosity than anything. You’ve been such a vague, inaccessible figure my whole life, and all I ever really wanted was to simply make the connection.”
This story might have started with one devastating pink line but it became a whole rainbow of goodness by the end it. It might have been dismantled by more than one point of view and alternating timelines, but it was bound together by one constant element of the story – love. The type of love that survives even the harshest of tests, a love that grows only stronger in time and brings people together. Families change, evolve, lovers part ways and then find their way back to each other, friendships grow and never fade away, but motherhood remains an unchanging force of nature, a source of comfort as much as a source of strength.
“She could be forty years old, married with kids, and you’ll still be worried about her life, her bills, her husband’s job, your grandkid’s fever.”