Review: Somebody Else's Daughter

Omaha Bookworm’s October 2009 book selection: we will be discussing this book with the author on October 20th.

Book giveaway ends today, click here if you would like to enter.

In writing Somebody Else's Daughter, I was interested in exploring identity and the variety of ways in which we struggle to understand ourselves in a complex world. Writing about adoption was something I have wanted to do for a long time, not only because I am a happily adopted person, but because it was an opportunity to unravel certain misconceptions about what it means to be adopted, how it feels to be an adopted teenager, and how not knowing about one's history is sometimes more disruptive than knowing the truth.

Elizabeth Brundage holds an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she received a James Michener Award. Before attending Iowa, she was a screenwriting fellow at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. Her short fiction has been published in the Greensboro Review, Witness magazine, and New Letters. She is currently at work on her third novel and lives with her family in upstate New York. (source: authors website)
I’m not sure where to start. This is really Nate, Catherine and Willa’s story. Nate and Catherine give Willa up for adoption at the beginning of the book and we quicly jump forward sixteen years.
Nate is no longer addicted to drugs and has taken control of his life. He accepts a teaching job at Willa’s high school to learn a little about her. He wants to see her but he doesn't want her to know who he is. We learn bits and pieces of the characters as the book progresses (I mentioned this on twitter last week… this storytelling style reminds me of Olive Kitteridge). Each chapter is a story about someone in the community and their interactions with one of the main characters. I can’t share more about the plot or I might ruin the reading experience for members of the Omaha Bookworm’s. It’s a fast paced book with a lot to discuss. Messy characters, moral issues, lies and deception.

I read a review on BN.COM where the reader didn’t care for this book until the last 50 pages. This threw me a bit, I really enjoyed the book until the last 20 pages. I didn't see the ending coming but it’s worth noting the author may have wrapped this book up too quickly. Do you find endings as challenging as I do? I’m often a bit disappointed with the ending, even if I really liked the book. Watch for another post late October, to recap our discussion with the author.

Type: Fiction, 352 pages, Trade Paperback
Synopsis:A taut, complex psychological thriller from the author of The Doctor's WifeLike The Doctor's Wife — which The Boston Globe called "a compelling read"—Somebody Else's Daughter is a literary page-turner peopled with fascinating and disturbing characters. In the idyllic Berkshires, at the prestigious Pioneer School, there are dark secrets that threaten to come to light. Willa Golding, a student, has been brought up by her adoptive parents in elegant prosperity, but they have fled a mysterious and shameful past.

Her biological father, a failing writer and former drug addict, needs to see the daughter he abandoned, and so he gains a teaching position at the school. A feminist sculptor initiates a reckless affair, the Pioneer students live in a world to which adults turn a blind eye, and the headmaster's wife is busy keeping her husband's current indiscretions well hidden. Building to a breathtaking collision between two fathers—biological and adoptive, past and present— Somebody Else's Daughter is both a suspenseful thriller and a probing study of richly conflicted characters in emotional turmoil.