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

REVIEW: ABC Family’s ‘The Fosters’ is a new kind of family welcomed by many

Last night was the season finale of one of my favorite shows–ABC Family’s The Fosters.

I knew right away from the previews of the show premiering that I was going to like it. What I didn’t know was just how much I was going to love the show. The story line is about a biracial lesbian couple who are parents to a son from one of the women’s previous marriages, two adopted former foster children and two additional foster kids, Jude and Callie, who they take in after Callie is released from a juvenile detention facility.

I’ll be honest, after the first episode I wasn’t sure if I would continue watching the show. Like I said, it was the preview of the overall season that really caught my attention. But, the first episode seemed like the story line could go in a somewhat uncharted territory for ABC Family and I wasn’t sure how well it was going to sit with viewers.

But, as the season went on I was so happy I stuck with it. I was first attracted to the show based on the story line. I can relate. I am an adoptee myself and the show touches on several different topics, adoption being one of them. Based on how well-written it is I would totally love to give executive producer Jennifer Lopez a big hug and say thank you! It truly is phenomenal so if you haven’t seen it yet I would highly recommend it.

The first episode of the first season is about a girl named Callie, who is released from a juvenile detention facility after serving time for getting into a physical altercation with her former foster dad. Upon her release she meets Lena Adams Foster, one of the main character moms, who agrees to let Callie (and eventually her brother, Jude) stay with her and her family temporarily (which later turns into permanently).

As the season progressed there was always some new surprise, new element, that I was pleasantly surprised it touched on. I think for some viewers the topics the show touches on might make them feel uncomfortable or like it isn’t appropriate for the ABC Family network, which I can agree to an extent, but, I love the show too much to care that much. Some topics have a more mature element and so for younger viewers they may notice and ask for clarification while for others it will go over their head. Either way, it’s up to a parent’s discretion on whether or not they want their children to watch the show, in my opinion.

The show touches on the topic of adoption, the LGBTQ community, foster care, mixed families, etc. The part that gets me every time and I enjoy is the portrayal of the character Jude, who at a young age, is exploring his sexuality and how to share with people he is gay. I enjoy it in the sense that I am rooting for him 100%. This aspect “gets me” every time because his character goes through some difficult times as he comes to terms and understands his true sexual identity and how to express it to others in hopes they’ll be accepting. I think it’s a fairly accurate and realistic portrayal of what some gay and lesbians experience in real life–it’s something people can personally relate to and/or empathize with.

Another aspect is adoption. The two characters, Mariana and Jesus, who are twin siblings who are adopted by the Fosters family. Mariana specifically deals with some things I myself have experienced (to a certain degree) in real life–although things that happened more so in the second season than the first season. In this second season Mariana deals with her peers asking her about her birth parents and if she has any desire to meet them and why/why not; and she deals with feeling like she doesn’t truly know who she is 100% because she is adopted and doesn’t know much about her biological roots. I myself have dealt with people asking me questions regarding my biological parents and while for the most part I don’t mind, at times it can be too much. Not because I am ashamed of being adopted or about my birth parents (I don’t even remember/know them) or anything else, but because I believe some aspects of adoption are simply private that I don’t feel the need to always share with people or with the whole world in general.

In the show Mariana “lies” (or just omits some truth) about information regarding her birth mother. She has met her birth mother before but it didn’t go as planned. Her birth mom is a drug addict and only wanted to see Mariana so she could get money from her. For Mariana this isn’t something she wants to tell just anyone as it is something that would most likely be frowned upon by society, by her peers. She tells her friends she doesn’t know anything about her birth mom and later her friends find out that isn’t true and asked why she lied. Mariana tells them she didn’t feel like it was something worth sharing.

This is where I somewhat relate to Mariana. Not in the sense that my birth mom was a drug addict (I don’t know anything about her) but in the sense I have people ask me questions from time to time, out of curiosity, if I know anything about my birth mom or dad or anything else. I get it’s mostly people asking because they’re curious but there are some times when I feel people ask to be nosy, rather than curious, and ask questions beyond what is normal curiosity. For the most part though people just ask me things because they’re curious. Like where I was born, how old I was when I was adopted.

For me I don’t have this life goal to know everything there is about my birth parents or siblings. That doesn’t say I am anti-finding out information about them but that’s something where if it happens then it happens that’s great, but, if it doesn’t then I guess it doesn’t, and that’s okay too. I think this surprises some people, particularly people who don’t have much experience with adoptees or adoption in general, because I think in their mind they would want to know, they would HAVE TO know. I however, do not. The family I have, that I grew up with since I was four months old IS my family–no ifs, ands or buts. This relates to the show because this is how Mariana feels too.

Later in this second season a guy named Mat takes Mariana to a Mexican culture festival and Mariana gets angry at one point thinking he only brought her to the festival because she is Mexican. Mariana knows she is Mexican but said because she didn’t grow up in the Latina community that she doesn’t have any real ties to what the festival offers. Also, in the season finale that aired last night, she meets with her birth mom again, thinking this time she really wants to meet with her and talk, only to have the meeting actually take place and Mariana going off on her mom. Mariana tells her birth mom she doesn’t know who she (Mariana) is because she didn’t raise her and that she (the birth mom, Ana) is nothing to her.

I felt bad for the mom in the show, as I think Mariana could have handled the situation better but again, this is something that happens in real life. Not all adoptees have this mind set but some do. Back to what I said above ^ the family I have IS my family. That doesn’t go to say I wrote off my biological mom or dad or siblings but, I don’t know them personally and they don’t know me. They’re strangers to me just like a random person on the street is. 

Overall the show provides something for every type of person–whether they’re adopted, a member of the LGBTQ community, a foster child or parent, a divorcee or child of a divorcee, etc.–there’s something every person can enjoy about this show. Like I said earlier some of these elements may be too mature for some kids now but that doesn’t mean this won’t be something they learn about as they get older. If you haven’t watched it yet I would highly recommending watching both the first and second season and hopefully the third if/when it airs. It’s a phenomenal show and one of my favorites that I can’t get enough of–second to Pretty Little Liars. Thank you to ABC Family for giving The Fosters the chance it deserves and sticking true to your motto: “A new kind of family.” That’s exactly what The Fosters is.

For more information about The Fosters check out the links below:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2262532/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_The_Fosters_episodes

http://abcfamily.go.com/shows/the-fosters

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fosters_(2013_TV_series) 

Until next time…

– Ana