Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Review: Forever Lily by Beth Nonte Russell

genre: memoir
rating: 3.5/5

Forever Lily is the story of a woman who travels to China to support a friend in the final stages of adoption. However, when her friend, Alex, receives her baby, the situation begins to unravel quickly. Alex panics and doesn't think she can handle a baby that clearly has some development delays due to the harsh environment of the orphanage where the baby spent its' first months of life. Uncertainty and an instant bond with the child make for many emotionally charged days for the author.

The story itself is horrifying and incredible at the same time. Certain portions read like an interesting travel guide, giving us an interesting glimpse into China, its culture and people. The images of the orphans in the orphanage made me want to investigate international adoption, it is such a tragedy. Alex (the adopting mom) is made out to be a self-centered and incredibly indecisive, and while this is certainly the case, I thought the author's treatment of her was sometimes a bit harsh. It is clear, however, that this was also a very traumatic time for the author whose love of the baby (eventually named Lily) becomes a real trial of faith.

The reason I couldn't give this book more stars is because of Russell's dreams - passages of a Chinese dream-life that she apparently had before and during this experience in China. Possibly these sections were trying to show a spiritual connection between Lily and Russell, but for me they were incredibly distracting and, for me, added a seed of doubt about the rest of the text's authenticity. I'm sure this devise may have worked well for other people and tied China's ancient past with the present of the book. It just didn't work for me.

I did enjoy this read. The writing was typically tight with affecting imagery. I wanted to know how things resolved and I nearly had tears on a couple of occasions, both because I was sad and because I was happy (I'm that kind of reader!). Forever Lily presents an emotional and interesting new twist on international adoption stories, so it certainly has a place in that canon.


Ramya said...

Hey Corinne.. I read this book last month as well and I was kinda thrown by the dream sequence as well.. the continuity of the dream and her accuracy in remembering the details somehow made me doubt the authenticity of the narration..
one more thing that perturbed me was that Beth was trying to justify Lily being hers. I don't think she wanted to give her friend the chance to see if she actually wanted the baby..
all said, i have to agree that it was a well written book. She did manage to hold my attention the whole time..

Veens said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Veens said...

It has mixed reactions, i remember reading Ramya's review :)

Serena said...

this book seems to be getting mixed reviews, though more bad than good I I wonder if I should look into another Chinese adoption story for my cousin's gift.

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