I am one of those strange creatures who prefers to spend time in the land of make-believe a lot more than in the real world around me, the endless possibilities of fiction having the power of making any story that much more emotional, that much more raw, that much more intense. But once in a while, you come across a perfect marriage of fiction and real life, a story that is so poignant and honest, and yet it makes you dream with your eyes open like only a true fairy tale can. It makes you believe, hope, ache, and it shows you that sometimes the most beautiful stories are the ones deeply founded in reality.
This is a book about love. Loss. Sacrifice. Hope. This is a story that shows us the endlessness of a mother’s love for her unborn child, and how broad the definition of motherhood really is. This is the story of two women, two survivors, whose lives couldn’t be more different, but whose fates become forever bound by the love they feel for a little girl called Emily.
Carly and Tabitha’s realities lie on polar opposites of the life spectrum, but their painful pasts and their ability to love unconditionally and selflessly is an invisible tie that makes them a lot more akin than they realize. Carly’s story is a story of hope and immeasurable joy brought by the impending adoption of baby Emily. It begins with the happy news of Tabitha picking Carly and her husband Kyle as her unborn baby’s new parents, and it ends with Emily’s birth. We see what this baby’s arrival means to Carly’s family, we rejoice with her, we feel her fears, her anticipation, her eagerness to become a mum. Carly lives the life that Tabitha has always dreamed of having – married to a man who adores her, surrounded by supportive and loving friends, comfortable in her own skin and at peace with her own past. Her life would be perfect if only her body were able to give her the one thing that is sorely missing in it – a baby.
But this is not just Carly’s story – this is also the tale of Tabitha, a deeply troubled young woman, orphaned since birth, whose body and heart are scarred by a past that has only been unkind to her. She sees herself as damaged and broken, and as much as she craves to be a mother and loves the child growing inside her, she knows that she is unfit to be the kind of parent her little girl deserves to have.
“I have no one. I’m alone. Alone in the present and alone with my past. Alone with my demons.”
As we meet these two women, by witnessing their past as well as their present, we see what has made them who they are now, the vast difference between the lives they have lived and the happiness they have found. One of them has faced her demons, overcome her hang-ups, found the kind of love that lasts a lifetime and reached a point in her young life where a child is a welcome and much desired addition to her family. The other is an unsettled, much younger woman who is still struggling with feelings of inadequacy and incompleteness, desperate to be loved and for someone to claim her as her own. They are different in every way and yet so similar in the way they love so wholeheartedly.
“I’m jealous of her. of her life. Of what she is. Of everything that I am not.”
This book has the power of touching the reader so deeply by giving us unique and very precious insight into the world of child adoption, from both the viewpoints of the birth mother as well as the adoptive parents. I walked away at the end of this book feeling like my heart had grown tenfold, overflowing with so many emotions, and desperately hoping that fiction, in this case, had found its roots in real life. Truthfully and sensitively written, by giving equal importance to both women’s life journeys and the events that had brought them into each other’s lives, this is a story that will stay with you and forever make you appreciate the selflessness of an act we, as a society, often neglect or pass judgment on. A stellar debut novel, a superb translation of real life into fiction, a must read for anyone looking for a book to touch their heart and renew their belief in humanity.
I’m getting ready to say goodbye to you, little girl… You will be part of a perfect family… I hope you understand some day why I made the decision that I have.
I love you sweet girl.