"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

22 January 2017

2017 Book Review #3: What Was Mine

WOW!  This was quite a book!

Thank goodness I  don't have a newborn in the house...I would have been checking on her every single minute while reading this novel.


Marilyn is a successful career woman, married to a successful career man named Tom.  They have one baby girl named Natalie.  One day, Natalie's nanny cannot come to work so Marilyn takes Natalie on her errands.  And life changes forever.

Lucy Wakefield is married to Warren.  Both have high level careers and have put off having children.  Now that they are in their 30's Lucy tries to become pregnant.  And fails.  Her marriage falls apart. 

One afternoon, on a scorching hot August day, she is in the local IKEA when she sees a baby girl in a shopping cart.  This baby's mother is no where to be found. Lucy grabs her and raises her as her own. Because what Lucy has always wanted, Lucy always gets.

She manages to keep this secret....this raising of a little girl as her own adopted daughter, for 2 decades.  She keeps the secret from her own sister Cheryl and from her ex-husband as well as from Mia, her co-workers, Mia's Chinese Nanny Wendy, and Mia's teachers.

and then one afternoon, Mia discovers something in Lucy's closet...and her life changes......who is Lucy really? who is her mother? who is SHE??

Little does Lucy know the ramifications of the criminal act she carried out one August afternoon and what the consequences will be for Marilyn and Marilyn's family, as well as for Mia/Natalie, and for her self.


Wow.  This was a fast-paced, exciting page turner.  There is nothing gory in the story-line which is good.  Rather, it is a picture of what infertility did to Lucy....in her desperation for a baby, she did not think of anything except how to get one.

My maternal side, of course, felt the most empathy for Marilyn and Tom.  How wrenching it is to a spirit...a soul...a mind...a body...almost a physical wrenching, to have your baby, no matter what the age, snatched away from you!  In this case, the baby is just 4 months old when she is taken from her mother.

Lucy is a "good" enough person....she is depicted as a mom who is typical NYC....career minded, has a nanny, buys the best of everything, gives Mia all the "stuff" she could possibly want or need, including horse riding lessons, piano, etc and they bond together,  but I just got so frustrated with her....she really was depicted by the author in a way that was well done...a woman who always gets what she wants...even someone else's baby!  Unthinkable!!  And then we find out how Mia really feels........it's quite a tear jerker!

The main themes of course are about love and loss; of ownership and belonging. 

The interesting thing for me was that the author chose to reveal at the beginning of the book, that Lucy would be caught.  I found this very interesting.  The chapters are short and each one is told in a different voice.  Most of the chapters are either in the voice of Mia, Marilyn or Lucy.

I also found it very interesting that Marilyn experiences the most change.  She is a totally different person once she moves from NJ to CA and  gets remarried.  I love that it's a bit of symbolism for getting her life back...for discovering that she can forgive the person who took her baby.  As a Christian, or course, I found it sad that she relies on near eastern philosophies rather than God, but this isn't Christian fiction so the yoga, the "zen" principals, etc. really just show that people need to search for something that brings peace and closure and forgiveness.  As a Christian, I would want to show Marilyn and Mia that the "light" is really God pointing the way......again, I wasn't offended reading any of this stuff because I understand that many people practice these principles and are not Christians.  The author is not trying to write a Christian novel. She DOES do an excellent job in pointing out the freeing power of forgiveness though and for that I give this book a 10.

The people who can't seem to forgive Lucy are Tom, Mia's biological father, and Cheryl, her maternal aunt. I think it would be very difficult for me, too, honestly. Here's a quote I just loved and that I know to be true based on my own life experiences:

"When you forgive, the person you set free is yourself". (pg 314, What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross, c. 2016)

There were some other quotes I really liked and that were quite profound, I thought:

from the character Detective Brown:  "It's rare that victims of non-family abductions who up after this many years.  If a child isn't found in the first twenty-four hours, the chance of recovery goes into low percentages.  If the child is still missing after four months, the change of recovery is down to almost nothing." (pg.155, What Was Mine)

(This is where I found the plot to be a bit far-fetched....come on...really???  After 21 years, Marilyn just "happens" to find Mia/Natalie??  I don't want to give away any spoilers....but that part of the book really was pretty far-fetched in my opinion...but...then again.....the author does list a couple of cases where this has happened, in the end notes). 

from Marilyn, as she watches Mia get on the plane to China to go see Lucy who has been hiding out there:  "I watch her as she drifts away, toward the long line for security. She is the daughter of my past who stopped growing at four months; and also the daughter of my present, whose past I'm slowly getting to know.  Both are equally precious to me." (pg 315, What Was Mine)

The ending is rather haunting.  I don't want to tell you how Mia,Marilyn, and the authorities  are going to handle the crime of kidnapping and charging Lucy because I don't want to spoil it for you.  But here is the last paragraph of the book......(to find out what really is going to happen with Lucy, you need to read the book).

from Lucy as she watches Mia get off the plane: "Of course she has come.  I needn't have worried.  But I can't help worrying.  I am her mother."(pg 320, What Was Mine)

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.


Susanne said...

Well this one is going on my list for sure!

Deb said...

Yes, I am also going to have to read this one! Thank your for the review!