The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be: A Speculative Memoir of Transracial Adoption

Dutton. Jan. 2023. 256p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593111994.
Gr 11 Up–Given the enormous amount of literature dedicated to the good fortune or tragic-torn stories of orphans, Gibney hits hard with her part-memoir, part-speculative fiction, pastiche-approach to set the record straight and unravel the everyday pain of growing up biracial, adopted, with people who are not her birth parents. There is rage, there is research, there is speculation of what could be. Gibney tells her own story, with old photographs, letters from Children’s Services, unfamiliar artifacts for outsiders (such as a letter of “non-identifying information” about her birth parents), holiday cards from mom, and a detailed family tree. Fans of Girl, Interrupted will be primed for this journey. Some segments are written in strike-through; others analyze pop culture depictions of other adoptees, such as Loki in The Avengers. But throughout the exploratory, experimental text, there is the narrative thread of a young person figuring out the real story, finding a center of truth in a pile of documents, a heroic journey to find home, a place to belong, an endeavor to re-inhabit the lost love of a tragically creative, mentally ill birth father and well-meaning, flawed birth mother.
VERDICT An authentic journey for adoptees who are not allowed to feel sad but thrust into a stance of gratitude for a life they were given and for all readers who, after a loss, are reconstructing their identities.

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