Review: What Was Mine [novel] + other random thoughts

what-was-mine-9781476732350_hrEarlier this week I finally began a book I had bought about a month ago at Target that was marked 20% off. At first when I read the summary on the back of the book it sounded right up my alley, until I did a double take and realized it was probably better suited or relateable  for someone who has kids. But, I gave it some more thought and ended up buying it anyway.

I had the day off today so I decided I would do my best to finish the book since it was much shorter than the last one I had just finished on Sunday. Well, I did finish it today and I definitely have some mixed thoughts about how I feel about the overall book, and have strong feelings about how it ended.

The book is about a woman who kidnaps a four month old baby from Ikea whose mom walks away briefly for a work phone call, and ends up raising the baby as her own. She makes the decision to kidnap her after having tried for years to have a baby of her own, even suffering a miscarriage, as well as trying adoption. And then on top of all of that she and her husband separate.

The chapters alternate from the different viewpoints of the characters in the book. The woman’s name who stole the baby is Lucy. The biological mom’s name is Marilyn and her daughter’s real, legal name was Natalie, but, Lucy changes it to Mia. There are other characters who narrate the book, too, such as Mia’s nanny Wendy, Wendy’s husband, and child, Lucy’s ex-husband, and Marilyn’s husband, and children.

Overall, the book was written in a way that for the most part kept my attention and wanting to find out if and when Lucy would be caught for having kidnapped a baby and raised her as her own for 21 years. But, as I read on and it got to the part where *SPOILER ALERT* Mia finds out Lucy’s secret and she then questions her identity, it made me feel… indifferent. She acknowledges that Lucy is the mom she’s known her whole life but, after finding out she isn’t her “real” mom she feels a sense of betrayal and feels as though she no longer has a mom to turn to–neither Lucy or the mom her gave birth to her.

Here is why I feel indifferent. I understand the feelings of Mia, as it is definitely understandable and she has every right to feel the way she does. Now I know she is a fictional character and it’s a fictional story–but–situations like hers have very much happened in real life before and the way she feels, people in real life have and can definitely feel too although maybe not necessarily in the same manner.

For example… And I am not referring to myself in this scenario, but, for other people out there who have been adopted, or raised by someone other than their biological parents from when they were less than a year old (and therefore the people who raised them are all they know) they may have felt similar feelings that the character Mia did.

My problem is, however, that the character of Mia completely writes off Lucy when she finds out the truth. I get it, and like I said above she has every right to be angry at the news itself, but, to never want to be able to forgive her mom (although *SPOILER ALERT* she ends up doing so) and resenting her for lying to her all those years, she fails to recognize that while her “adoption” by Lucy wasn’t legal, she fails to recognize that she still was able to grow up in just as loving of a home had she not been kidnapped. She just assumes she now has no one to love her and lost her identity as soon as she found out she wasn’t who she thought she was.

Okay, so now I’m starting to not be able to make sense of the thoughts I had in my head before sitting down to write this but, what I am trying to say, is that this character was so willingly and able to disown her “mom” Lucy and go off and live with her biological mom, Marilyn, across the country, and a woman whom was essentially a stranger to her. I obviously don’t believe in kidnapping babies–whether fictional or real life, lol–but, Mia fails to realize that while what Lucy did was against the law, and bad in the eyes not just of the law but morals of the people around her, she kidnapped her to take care of and raise her–not to harm her. As I read on in the book I realized Marilyn was not a bad mom overall, she just made a human mistake of walking a little too far away to take a phone call, but, again, it’s fiction so.

I just felt that while Mia had every right to be angry and upset and feel like her identity was gone, it shouldn’t have been presented that way. Being a(n) (real) adoptee myself, I can’t imagine myself, should I ever be in that situation if I were to ever find/know my biological parents, that I would feel like my identity of the woman I today was gone. I was raised by my mom and dad since they adopted me when I was four months old.

Whoa, sidenote, I just realized I was the same age as the fictional character in the book. Anyway…

I don’t know a life any different, and while I wouldn’t be opposed to meeting or knowing more about them sometime down the road, it’s not something I’ll be sad and angry if I don’t. My identity and say, my culture and its history, is different than and not tied to who gave birth to me. I am in no way lessening the important role birth parents play in adoptions but, this book just seemed to me, to have it backwards. I tie my identity to how and who I was raised by and with. I tie it to my own likes I acquired on my own growing up. I of course tie it to my Guatemalan roots as well, as that is a part of me, but, it’s not all of me. I was raised in America.

Which brings me to a completely different point and in no way related to my loose review of the book…

I shake my head and literally have no words when more often than not in recent time have I been approached asking in some form, where am I from?

When people ask me, Where are you from? I respond: Michigan.

This answer, for the most part, satisfies people but, then you get the occasional, and seemingly more now lately, people who look baffled and question me even more. Take for example, my Uber encounter last weekend when I was back home.

I get in the car and the driver starts making conversation with me and he asks where I’m from. I tell him from the area and to his dismay, he presses on, and asks if I am Mexican.

Number of times in the last month I’ve been asked some variation of that question (or, if I speak Spanish, which I do not): A HANDFUL. 

I took a deep breath, trying not to lose my shit after wanting a simple, no big deal, and QUIET ride home from the bar, and respond, “no”.

Of course, he looks dissatisfied and questions me asking where am I really from, as if somehow, for some reason, I am lying. Then to satisfy him and shut up him, even though it clearly shouldn’t matter nor should it be any of his damn business, I tell him where I was born.

As you’re reading this you may be wondering why I would get so worked up and annoyed by such a simple question. Here is why…

The Uber driver, like others I have encountered over the last month, are making an assumption about me based on how I look. I clearly do not look Caucasian, I get that, I do. But, you know how many people I myself come across who clearly aren’t Caucasian and don’t assume or ask about where they’re from as a way to pry and be nosy, instead of the usual small talk like when I say to people in Indiana, “Oh I just moved here.” To which they reply, “Oh, where did you move from?” To which I answer, “Michigan”, and alas that’s the end of it.

But other times, such as during this Uber ride, he didn’t ask me to make small talk. Or, perhaps he did, as it was a ride home from a stranger but, to me, it doesn’t seem appropriate for small talk. It’s just like when people automatically start speaking to me in Spanish or ask me if I speak Spanish and when I say no they look all confused.

I get annoyed by that because I don’t look at people who aren’t of the majority race and ask if they speak what I speculate could be their native language, or even just their race. It’s not how I was raised and I just don’t see it as polite. It’s other people making an assumption based on how I look. And I am no in way saying that being Mexican or any other nationality or race myself would be a bad thing, it’s just not who I am and I don’t appreciate that people are so quick to assume things about another.

But that’s enough about that.

Just something I thought I would touch on going along with my brief review of the book I read.

That’s all for now. It’s #TGIT so that means it’s almost, kind of, time for my TV shows to come on.

Until next time…

XO,

Ana