I am a voracious reader. Always have been. I can and have read several books in a week. While other people watch television, play video games, workout, I read. I read hardcover, paperback, and electronic via my Kindle app. I have read via Kindle on my iPad, my computer and even on my iPhone. It has always been this way. I tend to prefer the comfort of the worlds I find in my books versus the one I live in. I also greatly admire the art of writing.
As far as adoption goes, I tend to read self-help type books. You know, the ones that explain the trauma of adoption from a psychology viewpoint. Think LIfton, Verrier, Burns Robinson, and others. I read these books with the hope of finding understanding, validation and to bond with others. I also read a great deal of memoirs or narrative nonfiction. Think Lauck, Roessle, Hall and Stephensen. I also enjoy these for the validation and bonding yet I also read for style references. I have been working on my own for years and like to observe the different structures authors use.
Rarely do I find adoption in the fiction I read. Tracy Sharp does a great job covering it in her book Dirty Business. Mridula Koshy does as well in Not Only Things That Have Happened. Yesterday I stumbled upon another. – Dirty Wings by author Sarah McCarry. It is subtle but it is there for the trained adoption reader and it surprised me.
I read McCarry’s first book in her YA trilogy a bit after it came out. I enjoyed the characters and her writing style. I waited for her second and realized a bit late that my pre-order had been downloaded to my Kindle while I was not looking. I read it yesterday. (Yes, the entire book. I do that.) What strikes me about her inclusion of adoption references is her choice of words.
I won’t share too much but it is revealed one of the main characters is adopted. She is also Asian (Vietnamese). This surprised me as there was no reference that I recall to this in the first book. (Note: Second book is prequel to first). She is a teenager (remember, McCarry trilogy is YA) and like most teens, rather angst ridden. There are a few references to Maia (the angsty teen) being “bought” for her mother. Whoa! Where is the positive adoption language! Who says they were bought? Maia also refers to herself (in relation to her adoptive mother) as the “defective daughter that cannot be returned“.
There is a particularly powerful passage where Vietnamese born American raised Maia is approached by a Vietnamese man who assumes she can speak the language of the country she was born in. I literally winced at this point as I know from friends how painful this can be. McCarry nails it a few passages after this with “Mother is just a word like any other, ordinary until you make it mean something.”
I give kudos to McCarry for venturing into these challenging waters and choosing words that do not follow the usual adoption track. I am not certain if this adoption thread is relevant to her characters but I am for certain going to read the next book when it comes out. Given the story she could certainly tie the strange happenings to Maia’s bloodline, adoptive status, or other. We will have to wait and see if it was gratuitous.
You can purchase the book on Amazon.
Next on my reading list is Paige Stricklands Akin to the Truth: A Memoir of Adoption and Identity.