What Was MineWhat Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross
Published by Gallery Books
Review copy provided by She Reads

From the publisher:

Lucy Wakefield is a seemingly ordinary woman who does something extraordinary in a desperate moment: she takes a baby girl from a shopping cart and raises her as her own. It’s a secret she manages to keep for over two decades—from her daughter, the babysitter who helped raise her, family, coworkers, and friends.

When Lucy’s now-grown daughter Mia discovers the devastating truth of her origins, she is overwhelmed by confusion and anger and determines not to speak again to the mother who raised her. She reaches out to her birth mother for a tearful reunion, and Lucy is forced to flee to China to avoid prosecution. What follows is a ripple effect that alters the lives of many and challenges our understanding of the very meaning of motherhood.

Wow. What a page-turner this one was. While the book focuses mostly on the three women at the center of this story – Marilyn, Mia’s birth mother, Lucy, and of course Mia herself – there is so much plot that pushes the book forward and keeps the reader turning pages.

The author did a pretty incredible thing with this book, which is that she made me sympathize with and almost root for a kidnapper. Lucy did a terrible, unforgivable thing – she stole another family’s child – yet since much of the book is told from her point of view, I really liked her. Of course, I sympathized with Marilyn and Mia a whole lot more, for obvious reasons, but as the story goes on and the reader gets to know Lucy as a person, outside of this awful thing she did, it’s clear that she’s not a terrible person overall. She just made a really, insanely bad decision and continued with the lie for the rest of her life.

I also think that the author did a good job showing what type of reaction a teenager would have upon learning her entire life was a lie. She reacted out of the extreme emotional reaction of anger, but it made perfect sense for her to do that. If her mother could lie to her about her entire LIFE how could she ever trust that person again? So it made perfect sense that she would run straight to her birth mother and attempt to form a bond with the person who never got to be her mother, who never got the opportunity to gain or lose her trust.

There is so much emotion packed into this novel. I’m not a parent, so I can only begin to imagine how people with kids would feel as they read this book – pretty sure this situation is every parent’s worst nightmare. I could feel the intense pain of Marilyn, the desperate longing of Lucy’s to have a child, and the resentment and feelings of betrayal Mia had upon discovering the truth. I so appreciate how the author was able to pull all of those feelings off the page and into my heart.

I’m not sure about my feelings on the ending but I don’t know what the alternative could have been. How do you end a book like this? Certainly the story of these characters can’t possibly end at the end of the book – there are YEARS of healing and relationship-building to do in a situation like this. So, that being said, I think the ending was as good as it possibly could have been and definitely left the door open for these characters to continue to work on themselves and their relationships with each other.

What Was Mine was overall pretty great. I couldn’t put the book down and I really loved how Klein Ross created and developed these characters. Highly recommended!