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Friday, July 20, 2007

Mother Talk: Lost and Found

Just in time for mid-summer vacations: a beach read with bite. Carolyn Parkhurst's novel, Lost and Found, is a behind-the-scenes look at a reality television show (oh my G-d: it's Bobby Flay's Infertility Throwdown all over again) with the added bonus of hearing the internal monologue happening inside the mind of each contestant.

Why is it a beach read with bite? Because unlike the books you generally open while lying on the beach towel, this one will actually give you something to muse about as you apply another layer of sunscreen. At its most basic level, it brings to light the irreality of a reality television show--the script, the tweaking, the editing, the coaxing. As well as what contestants feel having the camera trained on them 24 hours a day.

But there are deeper bites to consider as well. Each chapter is written from the point-of-view of a contestant (which is also somewhat the downfall of the book's structure: you know long before the end who is going to win the game. If a character hasn't gotten his own chapter by page 198, you've got to assume he isn't making it over the finish line). Since I was given a heads up about the main storyline in the book, I will pass it along to you as well (especially since this secret is revealed by the fourth page--I don't think this is a true spoiler). The mother and daughter team are there following the birth and subsequent adoption of a baby. If you go into the book knowing this information rather than having it thrown on the infertile reader like cold water, you will enjoy watching the story unfold and even be grateful to view adoption through the eyes of the birth mother.

For me, the largest bite that took up a lot of my staring-at-the-sky-while-daydreaming minutes came on page 146 when Cassie, the teenage birth mother, admits why she chose her adoption plan. It is a question of playing with fate and imagining the numerous possibilities for her child. Of how one chooses the birth parents who will raise the child. And lastly, how one knows that another person could do a better job than you could ever do.

In the end, do people who choose a family to raise their child play a greater hand in guiding a child's fate (Cassie looks at the pictures and asks herself, "right there in front of me were twenty different possible lives for my baby, and what if I chose the wrong one? What if the couple that loves gardening and goes to the theater all the time is going to get divorced in two years? What if the computer programmer with the acne scars is going to drown in his swimming pool next summer, and my baby will be raised alone by his wife...") than any parent--adoptive or non-adoptive--who make daily choices that affect the life of their child? Is this responsibility more profound than what every parent grapples with on a daily basis without even considering the consequences of their simple choices as deeply as Cassie considers for her child? that's what I mean when I say that it's a beach read with a bite.


Lori said...

Teeth marks.

The route taken anywhere could have veered instead in a zillion alternate directions at any point. It's a wonder anyone is where they are.

Crystal, our daughter's firstmom, tells about her route navigation. At 36 weeks pregnant, she perused The Book (the agency's collection or profiles of waiting families). She chose Bill and Kris out of all the waiting couples, and took home their 12-page portfolio to show her family.

Only when she got home, it wasn't with her. She had left it on top of her car as she drove off.

She felt horrible to have lost that couple's masterpiece. Yet she knew it went along with her unsettled feeling about the decision (not about them -- they are wonderful people who also have a happy adoption story, just not with Crystal).

Crystal did find their portfolio, but decided to take a look at her other choice. The social worker called us and we met a few days later. Everything clicked. To this day, we both know it couldn't have gone any other way. Her one attempt to veer was thwarted.

I may pick up this book if I can get past my aversion to standard reality stunt drama.

Michell said...

I just bought this book. I haven't started reading yet but it's in my closet. Funny to see it on your blog too.