What Was Mine

What Was Mine – Helen Klein Ross

Genre: Fiction, contemporary fiction,

Admittedly this book started off a little slow for me, but once I got into it, I pretty much plowed through it. The chapters themselves are not very lengthy so it’s very possible to get through the book pretty quickly.

Anyway, moving on. This is a story about a kidnapping. Lucy has been trying for years to have a baby, but nothing has worked. Eventually she and her husband end up divorcing due to the stress of infertility. Lucy resigns herself to the fact that she will never have a bay. That is, until she happens upon an unattended infant in an IKEA store.

(Disclaimer: I’m going to be really honest here. Lucy’s reasons for taking the baby are pretty much crap. Natalie aka Mia, was not some neglected child. It was a mistake for her mother to step away, true, but that doesn’t make Lucy the law and sure as hell doesn’t give her justification for, you know, kidnapping someone else’s kid!)

Ugh. Sorry, but the anger.

Marilyn will never forget the day she last saw her four month old daughter, Natalie. She’ll also never forget the mistake she made of taking that call while she was in IKEA. Marilyn was a loving, doting mother whose only crime was letting her guard down for a few minutes. Those few minutes changed everything about Marilyn’s life. Reeling from the disappearance of her daughter, Marilyn navigates the days after with trepidation. She loses her marriage and herself. But somehow, she manages to get through the darkness and find some light with a new love and ends up having three more kids, though her heart is still broken from losing Natalie.

Natalie/Mia. Mia always knew she was adopted. She knew that Lucy wasn’t her birth mother, but all the same, she was her mother. Until Mia finds out the truth. Lucy is not her adoptive mother. Lucy is her abductor. Now she’s faced with the prospect of getting to know the mother she was stolen from, as well as her biological siblings. But how can she just forget the last twenty-one years of her life? She hates Lucy. Or does she? It was difficult watching Mia trying to navigate this new chapter of her life. I can’t imagine finding out that the person I trusted most in this world was capable of such an awful crime.

It was also difficult seeing Lucy try to justify her actions. Yes, Lucy wanted a child and after trying and failing, I understand the urge continued to grow. But with that being said, nothing makes what Lucy did OKAY. Not only did she make a choice that directly affected Mia and Marilyn, but Lucy’s own family. Her sister who is in complete shock that Lucy could do such a heinous act. Marilyn’s other children. I guess the best way I can describe it is if you cut down one tree in the forest, even if there’s hundreds of other trees there, the one you’re cutting down is significant to the forest. To the birds and other animals that need that tree.

Conclusion: 4.5/5 stars. I can’t give it the full five because I really hated Lucy. Still, an enjoyable (and quick) read that you’ll be intrigued (and possibly horrified) by.


Book Review: The Storyteller

“It’s easy to say you will do what’s right and shun what’s wrong, but when you get close enough to any given situation, you realize that there is no black or white. There are gradations of gray.” – Jodi Picoult 

And isn’t that the truth? It’s no secret to any of my family members or friends who one of my favorite authors is: Jodi Picoult. I’ve been hooked ever since a friend of mine gave me My Sister’s Keeper and I salivated over it. I knew from then on Picoult was an author to look out for. And I did. I’ve read nearly every one of her books save for one or two, and this book was by far the hardest for me to get through. As someone who is Jewish, I’ve been reminded over and over how atrocious the Holocaust was, and it was awful. In fact, I’m not entirely sure there is a word in the English language that can possibly describe how terrible it was and not just for Jewish people. Perhaps that is why it was difficult for me to read. The book isn’t based on any one real person per se, but Picoult is not an author to take research lightly. I admire her work ethic tremendously. This book was no exception to her thorough research. She spoke with Holocaust survivors. Knowing that, you understand that while this book is a work of fiction, the horrors people faced in the concentration camps were not and therefore, most likely, a lot of what is in those chapters is not fiction but ultimately too real.

That being said, what would you do if someone close to you told you they were part of one of the most vicious crimes against humanity, and then asked you to kill them? This is exactly what happens to Sage Singer. Sage is a baker who works alone and late at night/into the early morning. With a scar on her face, she considers herself unattractive and therefore doesn’t really warrant any attention. Being alone suits her fine. Sage meets Josef in a grief support group. To her, he’s just a nice old man. Until one day Josef reveals the truth. He was part of the Nazi SS Guard, and for that, he wants Sage to help him kill himself.

From there we’re taken on a painful journey when it’s revealed that Sage’s own grandmother, Minka, is a Holocaust survivor. And to find out if Josef really is who he says he is, we have to read Minka’s harrowing story.

Yes, at the surface, this is a book about the Holocaust, but at its core what it really is is a book about forgiveness. Who deserves it, who doesn’t, who can grant it, and who can’t. And if any decision we make is ever really the “right” one.