The Mistress’s Daughter: A Memoir

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by A.M. Homes

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am a voracious reader.  I especially enjoy an in-depth look into another person’s life, which is why I enjoy memoirs as well as a multitude of blogs.   I think writing a memoir would be a gigantic undertaking.  Where to begin?  What to tell?  What to leave out?  Here the novelist A.M. Homes recounts the story of meeting her birth parents 31 years after they gave her up for adoption and her quest to research both her adoptive and biological genealogy.

Homes’s birth mother, Ellen,  seems to suffer from some personal issues, telling her daughter, “You should adopt me and take good care of me.”  She stalks Homes, shows up at readings unannounced and becomes offended when Homes pulls away.  Her birth father isn’t much better, asking to meet her in hotels, asking her to submit to a DNA test, promising to introduce her to his family and then later refusing to speak with her.  Homes begins the long and arduous task of researching family lineage, learning she is eligible to join the DAR but then not being able to as her birth father will not provide the results of the paternity test to prove she is his child.

Mid-way through the book I felt it became a little muddled down by all of the historical names and events discovered during the genealogy dig.  Though fascinating, these veered from true heart of the story being told.  Homes wraps up the book with a chapter about her adoptive grandmother and her own journey to motherhood.

An interesting and touching read.  Medium stack of books.

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August 20, 2007. memoir.

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