Dirty Wings [Book]

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.


They Call It Culturomics

While doing research today for my day job I found myself trapped in the google information black hole known as Ngram. After doing my legit work for like, oh, a minute or two, I found myself shoving other words into Ngram.

In case you are not familiar with Ngram, it is phrase-usage graphing tool developed by Google. Google digitized over 5 million books from the 1800’s to 2000’s. You can search their database of books for various phrases used in those books over a time period. In doing so, you find some fascinating (okay, maybe nerdy) relationships between word usage, emotional response and other events in the 20th century. (Yes, this kind of stuff excites me, perhaps overly so).

For a better explanation of this goodie, watch the TedTalk . For immediate viewing pleasure check out this little ditty. Draw your own conclusions.  Better yet, go play yourself.  Type in your own words or phrases to see how usage frequency has been changing. I warn you it can be addictive.


Click image for larger version.

Click image for larger version.



BOTB: Top Ten

Thank you to all who defined their Best of the Blog for me. I appreciate your taking time to share your thoughts and dig through my archives. I even surprised myself when I started poking around in the back of my blog closet. I have been blogging for many years and it is fascinating (and a bit disturbing) to me to see how my thoughts, voice, etc. has changed over the years.

Below is the list of the Top Ten nominated to date.  If you have not read, or want to read again, please click the links below. Be sure to read the comments. Many of them are more useful than the posts.

Feel free to continue to share your other favs as well!

The Nose (2006)
A post explaining my shock at finding myself in the same room as my college  age daughter and my inability to reach out to her to say hello, hug her and hear her voice.

Forgive You Father For You Have Sinned (2009)
The text of a letter I wrote, and mailed, to my mothers Catholic parish priest after my mother boasted to me how the priest welcomed females who had lost children to abortion to the altar.  He did not welcome women who had lost them to adoption.

White Flag Realities (2008)
A purely fictional post detailing a conversation between an adoption placement coordinator and Janie, an expectant mother, considering adoption.

Telling Children (2006)
The story of how I told my son, now age 15, then approaching 7, about the existence of his older sister. His childlike questions and my responses are contained therein.

Claimed (2011)
My experience of finally being claimed by a man who loved me after so many before him had failed to.

Just Sit There (2009)
A bit of a rant by me directed at random blog commenters that email and tell me my story is “oh so sad but it doesn’t happen anymore”.

About That Note  (2011)
My painful confession of the fact that when the agency casewrecker threatened me with that promissory note my mother signed, I gave up my daughter for the first time. The second would be three days after her birth.

Paying Debts (2007)
A five-year old post talking about the need to teach surrender mothers how to pay back what they “owe”, questioning if it is even possible.

Care To Play A Game (2008)
A challenge to my blog readers to play an adoption game.

Emma (2008)
Overhearing two adoptive moms discussing their Asian adoption experience.