Orfan


Dear Ms. Feverfew –

Make sure to put this at the top of your reading list: Orfan by Corie Skolnick.  I finished it yesterday…and wow. It is probably one of the better fictional books about adoption that I have read in quiet some time. I absolutely, positively, adore the main character, James Deane. And frankly, I think this would make a great movie. Hey Corie, so when does it go into production?

Here’s what I had to say about it over on Goodreads:

From the opening pages of “Orfan”, it is very obvious Skolnick has spent a great deal of time listening to parents who have lost children to adoption and people who were adopted. The opening pages of the book are one of the clearest distillations of the experience of mothers from the Baby Scoop Era I have read. Indeed, this is one of the few adoption-related fiction books that “gets it,” and the treats the natural family, the adoptive parents, and most importantly, the adoptee with dignity (i.e., none of them are portrayed as being maladaptive or pathological – they are just trying to do the best with what they have been given in life).

Even so, James Deane – a biracial child born to an unwed mother during the height of the Civil Rights movement – faces tremendous heartache and loss in his life. It begins with the loss of his culture and heritage when he is adopted by a white couple in 1969. The loving adoptive parents take him home to Florida, where he comes of age in a culture still awash with prejudice and ignorance. The loss continues throughout his life, until it reaches the point where it almost breaks him. Fortunately, James Deane has people who care enough to reach out to him in the time of his greatest need.

With skill, Skolnick passes the story back and forth between characters. The prose structure is reminiscent of one of my all-time favorite books, “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver and “Orfan” is an adept application of this type of communal story telling.  Without spoiling the end, I just have to say those kinds of things happen so often in adoption situations. All. The. Time. It’s called serendipity. (Except for the bit about grandpa’s identity). Now hurry up and read it so we can chat about it!

 

Back to the pool for me, now. The water is a perfect 90 degrees, it is sunny out, and the birds are singing. Yes, I know it is Sunday and so TOTALLY against the LDS culture to do something as fun as swim in a pool on Sunday, BUT…today, I just need a break from the dogma and the culture. What better way to spend it than building memories with my family, here at home?

Oh, and lest you are worried for my soul, I did get some religion today. I called my mom to talk to her about the next chapter of Loss, Trauma, and Resilience (Boss, 2006). At the end of our conversation, she told me to go read D&C 50:41-42 and to ponder about the loving God who spoke those words. I plan on doing just that as I float on my back with my eyes closed and drink in the warm Florida sun.

Much love and belief –

M.

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8 thoughts on “Orfan

  1. I am touched deeply by your kind words here about ORFAN.
    “…and the treats the natural family, the adoptive parents, and most importantly, the adoptee with dignity (i.e., none of them are portrayed as being maladaptive or pathological – they are just trying to do the best with what they have been given in life).”
    Melynda, everything I know about these experiences was taught to me by two very patient and loving “birthmothers” (this is the word they use), and a whole bunch of adoptees, too numerous to mention, equally patient and generous. Translating their stories and their experiences into a comprehensive fable was the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do. When a writer of your obvious caliber compares me to Barbara Kingsolver…whew…that is a very, very good day. Thank you.

    • I can’t wait for another one of your books to come out. Do you have more in the works? Thanks again for the incredible read – this is a book that sticks with a person.

      • Well, I’ve actually been thinking the very same thing about you! How’s the progress on your finished memoir? Perhaps it’s completed and published and I’m unaware…? I’ve read your post to this blog about the vultures twice now. It is an outstanding piece of literature. Please keep me informed about your writing/publishing endeavors. Thanks, -c

  2. My dear, M. I am delighted to see you are still blogging and still with such skill and passion. I wanted to catch up with you and let you know that your words two years ago about Orfan have proven prescient. On October 14th I received the signed contract to option Orfan into a major motion picture. 🙂 The writer/director/producer is Ron Shelton who made Bull Durham and White Men Can’t Jump among many other fine films. See? Your words have magic. I’m sending you the best wished for peace this time of year. -cs

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