Rating: 4 stars
“Somewhere Out There” by Amy Hatvany is her sixth book, a polished piece with authentic dialogue and a plot that keeps the reader reading long past her bedtime. The pronoun “her” is because “Somewhere Out There” is book that will appeal to women, especially women who have a sister.
It’s about three women. Jennifer is a teenage mother who is ill-equipped at sixteen years old to handle her first child, and less equipped to handle two of them when she is twenty. While trying to steal some food to feed her children, she is arrested. The family had basically been living in her car for the previous three years, “camping” as she called it, when she was arrested.
The sympathetic social worker helps Jennifer come to the decision to give up her two daughters. It’s a heart-wrenching decision, but Jennifer hopes that her daughters will be adopted together and have a better life than she could offer them. The story then moves to Brooke, the daughter who was a baby when Jennifer gave her up. The reader learns that Brooke was adopted by a couple and grew up in a loving home. Natalie, the child who was four when her mother gave them up, was not so lucky. The emotional trauma caused by the betrayal of her mother ruined her childhood. At every foster home she misbehaved and finally, she ended up living at the state residential home until she turned 18. Since then, Natalie has worked as a waitress.
Brooke is the catalyst whose actions get the plot moving. It’s Brooke, now a happily married lawyer, who like many intelligent lawyers decides that practicing law is not for her. So she follows her heart and starts baking desserts, and she builds up a business. She decides it’s time to really search for her birth mother, and she finds out the startling fact that she has a sister somewhere.
An agency is able to put Brooke and Natalie in contact, but their reunion is strained. While Natalie remembers Brooke, Brooke was a baby when she was adopted and doesn’t remember Natalie at all. There is some kind of bond between them, though. Natalie has just discovered that she is pregnant and is nervous about many things. Will she be able to be a good mother? How will she get through this alone, since the father is married although separated from his wife?
Hatvany doesn’t wrap up the ending with gold paper and a bow. All the ends are not tied together. And perhaps that’s what makes this book stand out from others. It’s like life — real, not always perfect, and without the totally happy “ever after” that fairy tales bring. It’s ultimately about love, about family (even if the family are friends and not blood-relatives), about giving what you can, and about forgiving.
It’s a beautiful and beautifully written book. Share it with a sister or a daughter. Read it with a book club. Enjoy.
Please note: This review is based on the final paperback book provided by Washington Square Press, the publisher, for review purposes.