What Was Mine
Helen Klein Ross
Summary (from Goodreads): Simply told but deeply affecting, in the bestselling tradition of Alice McDermott and Tom Perrotta, this urgent novel unravels the heartrending yet unsentimental tale of a woman who kidnaps a baby in a superstore—and gets away with it for twenty-one years.
Lucy Wakefield is a seemingly ordinary woman who does something extraordinary in a desperate moment: she takes a baby girl from a shopping cart and raises her as her own. It’s a secret she manages to keep for over two decades—from her daughter, the babysitter who helped raise her, family, coworkers, and friends.
When Lucy’s now-grown daughter Mia discovers the devastating truth of her origins, she is overwhelmed by confusion and anger and determines not to speak again to the mother who raised her. She reaches out to her birth mother for a tearful reunion, and Lucy is forced to flee to China to avoid prosecution. What follows is a ripple effect that alters the lives of many and challenges our understanding of the very meaning of motherhood.
Author Helen Klein Ross, whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, weaves a powerful story of upheaval and resilience told from the alternating perspectives of Lucy, Mia, Mia’s birth mother, and others intimately involved in the kidnapping. What Was Mine is a compelling tale of motherhood and loss, of grief and hope, and the life-shattering effects of a single, irrevocable moment.
Marcie's Review: I'm not sure exactly what I thought about this book. It's well-written, made up of chapters written from the perspective of all the important people in Mia's life as she grows up, although predominantly the reader sees the perspectives of Lucy and Mia's birth mother. Lucy is clearly a biased narrator, expecting that the reader will sympathize with her desire for a child, and understand, and even approve of, her motivations for stealing a baby from a shopping cart. The first part of the story was fascinating, reading about how Lucy got away with her crime and how Mia's birth mother worked to rebuild her life after her daughter disappeared. The latter part of the book didn't live up to the promise of the first half, though. Mia's birth mother didn't seem to recognize Mia as her own person; Lucy was a completely unbelievable falling apart runaway, and Mia, while understandably confused and angry, seemed too eager to give up her entire identity. The author did a nice job, though, helping the reader understand how Mia would feel split in two between her love of the only mother she knew and the knowledge that her mother did a terrible thing.
Marcie's Rating: 4 stars
Becky's Review: This book was a quick and easy read with short chapters told by rotating narrators. Most of the story was told by the three main characters but there were chapters from other characters who came in and out of Mia's, Lucy's and Marilyn's lives. I wanted more emotion from this book. Clearly this is an emotional story about longing for a child so much that you kidnap a baby and about losing a child for 21 years but it was written in such a matter a fact way. I did sympathize for all the characters, including Lucy. Once Mia finds out the truth and visits with her birth mother I had a hard time believing how easily she accepted her new family. Once I got to the end I understood Mia's reactions a bit more and I did appreciate how the author ended the book.
Becky's Rating: 3.5 stars