BOOK REVIEW | WHAT WAS MINE
TITLE: What Was Mine
AUTHOR: Helen Klein Ross
PUBLISHER: Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books
RELEASE DATE: January 5, 2016
GENRE: Women’s Fiction
Simply told but deeply affecting, in the bestselling tradition of Alice McDermott and Tom Perrotta, this urgent novel unravels the heartrending yet unsentimental tale of a woman who kidnaps a baby in a superstore—and gets away with it for twenty-one years.
Lucy Wakefield is a seemingly ordinary woman who does something extraordinary in a desperate moment: she takes a baby girl from a shopping cart and raises her as her own. It’s a secret she manages to keep for over two decades—from her daughter, the babysitter who helped raise her, family, coworkers, and friends.
When Lucy’s now-grown daughter Mia discovers the devastating truth of her origins, she is overwhelmed by confusion and anger and determines not to speak again to the mother who raised her. She reaches out to her birth mother for a tearful reunion, and Lucy is forced to flee to China to avoid prosecution. What follows is a ripple effect that alters the lives of many and challenges our understanding of the very meaning of motherhood.
Author Helen Klein Ross, whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, weaves a powerful story of upheaval and resilience told from the alternating perspectives of Lucy, Mia, Mia’s birth mother, and others intimately involved in the kidnapping. What Was Mine is a compelling tale of motherhood and loss, of grief and hope, and the life-shattering effects of a single, irrevocable moment. (Description from NetGalley.com)
As soon as I started reading What Was Mine, I became engrossed by it and could’t put it down. I don’t have children yet, but I feel that What Was Mine still had the same affect on me as it would to a mother. It would be truly devastating for my child to be kidnapped. This book also made me think about how I’d feel towards the person who kidnapped by child. I’d be thankful that he/she wasn’t harmed, but I’d definitely be angry about the amount of time that was stolen from me. I hope I’d follow Marilyn’s example and think about my son or daughter and how they feel about the situation. It’d be difficult, but sometimes you have to look at the big picture and what is best for your child.
What Was Mine is told in several different perspectives, mostly by the main characters Lucy Wakefield (the kidnapper), Mia Wakefield (the kidnapped child), and Merilyn Featherstone (the biological mother). There are a few supporting character perspectives sprinkled in that were an interesting addition, but if removed, they wouldn’t change much of the plot.
The most interesting aspect of reading What Was Mine is that I felt sorry for Lucy Wakefield, who was essentially a child abductor. In everyday life, if I see a kidnapping story on the news, I tell myself “that person needs to go to prison”, but I didn’t feel that way with Lucy. She was a woman who couldn’t have children in any way and her desire for a child got the best of her causing her to kidnap Mia. I felt sorry for her during several points in the book.
Overall, I would highly recommend this book. Even though it’s a women’s fiction book, sometimes it felt like a suspense novel because I was always wondering if she’d be caught.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Helen is a former creative director at top ad agencies in New York who spent over 20 years in the ad business before turning to other kinds of fiction. Her stories, poems and essays have been published by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and The New Yorker. (Found on Helen’s website).
Thank you to the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.