Throwaway Daughter by Ting-Xing Ye

“You can’t be two people at the same time-not without ending up in a mental institution.  I’m not just Grace Parker.  I’ve accepted that.  I wasn’t born at Soldier’s Memorial.  I was unwanted by my so-called real parents.  That’s the hard part, like a toothache that won’t go away.  They got rid of me.”

Grace’s parents adopted her from China when she was an infant, and Grace was never interested in her Chinese heritage.  As far as she could see it, she was unwanted and abandoned-why should she try and pursue the culture that rejected her, anyway?  When she stumbles across a newscast covering the massacre in Tiananmen Square, her perspective changes, and she begins the process of exploring her birth country and trying to find her birth mother.

This story is told with many voices: Grace’s, Grace’ adoptive mother, her birth mother, and various family members in China.  It also takes places in two countries, Canada and China.  Grace attends a summer session at an international school in China, and from there tracks down an orphanage worker who cared for her, and after a lot of  guesswork and bus journeys, her birth mother.

I have to admit, I’m fairly obsessed with stories of adoption, but it’s rare to come across one that’s a novel, rather than a memoir.  The memoirs can get repetitive quickly, but this book brings an interesting format, a political angle (with all the discussion of the Cultural Revolution, a part of the book I greatly enjoyed), and the perspective of the adopted child.  I enjoyed it quite a bit!

Happy Reading!

Ye, Ting-Xing with William Bell.  Throwaway Daughter. Seal Books: Canada. 295 pp. Ages 15 and up.

I’m sorry-I wasn’t able to find a website for the author! If you know of it, please let me know! Here is a quick biography, though: http://www.annickpress.com/authors/ye.asp?author=318

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After by Amy Efaw

‘”Sit up straight, ok?  Look the judge right in the eyes when he speaks to you.  You’re going to be nervous, don’t think that you’re not.'”

Devon is just a few months shy of her sixteenth birthday.  She’s an honor student, a soccer star, and has always sworn that she would grow up and be nothing like her mother.

Then it all falls apart.

She didn’t even know she was pregnant.  All of a sudden, it seemed to her, she was lying in the bathroom, with blood everywhere and more pain than she had ever felt before.  And IT was there, a screaming, crying, living representation of her failure.  Who wouldn’t panic?

When a neighbor finds the baby in a trash can, Devon’s perfect world is shattered.  Her advanced classes are replaced with with institutional meals in juvenile detention, state soccer matches with court dates.  Meetings with lawyers, psychiatrists, and other authorities fill her spare time.  Devon transforms, too: from a young woman shrouded in fear and denial, to a person capable of facing her actions.

Efaw uses lots of details; her close observations permeate the book and make the reader feel intimately involved in the story.  The story, because it is told from Devon’s perspective (not in first person, but it’s an omniscient narrator) begins in a very vague, confused way.  It’s a direct reflection of Devon’s state of mind:  she has suffered a severe blood loss, and is in shock.  As the story progresses, she takes more and more responsibility for what happened.  As she does so, the descriptions and details become clearer and clearer.  It’s a great technique and it elevates this novel from what could be a sensational story about a pregnant teen, into something more literary.  I finished this book in a day; I just didn’t want to put it down.

Happy Reading!

Efaw, Amy. After. Viking: New York, 2009. 350 pp.  Grades 9-12.

Author’s website: http://www.amyefaw.com/