“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!
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