Saturday, April 23, 2011

Unconventional Adoption Story Tells It True

(Image from Indiebound)

Bow Farm, a ramshackle spread on the Mattole River in California's Humboldt County, collects lost souls. And secrets. Shunning their pasts, its residents have come together to form something new, something more than a community, but not quite a family. At least not in any conventional sense. There's Len, a quiet logger, who's fiercely devoted to his brain dead wife; Ruthie, an obese cook, whose botched suicide brought her to the farm; Melody, who shuns her high brow background to live off the land; Johnny Appleseed, whose frequent comings and goings suit his constant wanderlust; and Willow, a skilled weaver, who hides from her demons in a yurt at the edge of the property. Despite variant pasts, each member of the group depends on the others, takes care of the others, and helps make the farm a refuge for them all.

No one's prepared for a disturbance in the peace, especially one that comes in the form of an angry 3-year-old. Len's never met his nephew, doubts he can properly care for the child, but brings him home anyway. He's determined to give the boy, whose mother's been incarcerated for drug dealing, a little stability. It doesn't take long, however, for one thing to become perfectly clear: Len's got too much on his plate already to keep track of squirmy, sullen Wrecker. The others on the farm, none of whom are exactly the greatest candidates for parenthood, agree to look after the child until an adoptive family can be found. They expect to feed Wrecker, clothe him, read him stories, keep him out of trouble - what they don't expect is to fall in love with him. But they do. And the fierceness of that emotion changes everything at Bow Farm.

As Wrecker grows up, the odd little family gathers around the boy, experiencing the joys and hardships of parenting a child haunted by a past he doesn't even remember. When it comes time to tell Wrecker the truth about his early life, his ex-con birth mother, and a whole lot of other details they've skipped over, the group fears his reaction. Will Wrecker's anger take away the one thing, the one person, who succeeded in making them a family? And, if he leaves, what will become of the rest of them? What will happen to Bow Farm, the place that has sheltered them all?

Wrecker, Summer Wood's second novel, grabbed me from the first word. Or maybe it was the plot summary that did it for me. I may have mentioned (only about a million times) that, as an adoptive mother, I have a bit of a weakness for adoption stories in all their various forms. This one's an unconventional tale, filled with unconventional characters, set in an unconventional time (Northern California - 1965), all of which give it a quirky charm. The writing kept me engaged, startling me at times with its humor and heart. Even though the story wanders a bit and doesn't have quite the richness I wanted it to have, I enjoyed it. Its message rings clear and true: parenthood is less about bringing children into the world and more about helping them through it. Family is less about blood and more about benevolence. As someone who knows a little something about unconventional families, I have to agree.

(Readalikes: Reminded me a tiny bit of Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda)

Grade: B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for strong language, some sexual content, and depictions of illegal drug use.

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Wrecker from the generous folks at TLC Book Tours, for whom this review was written.

8 comments:

  1. I really loved this! My review goes up on Monday I think, but I'm not a mother of any kind and hopefully won't be any time soon as I'm still in school, but it is so heart-warming to read stories like these and it certainly makes me want to open my heart and my home up to non-biological children in the future. So happy to see a positive review :)

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  2. I'm so happy you enjoyed Wrecker!! I'm also a sucker for adoption stories, and this one sounds great. Thank you so much for being on the tour.

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  3. I loved this book too. Also on the tour...Great review!

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  4. I'm so happy you enjoyed Wrecker!! I'm also a sucker for adoption stories, and this one sounds great. Thank you so much for being on the tour.

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  5. I loved this book too. Also on the tour...Great review!

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  6. e want to open my heart and my home up to non-biological children in the future. So happy to see a positive review

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  7. I really loved this! My review goes up on Monday I think, but I'm not a mother of any kind and hopefully won't be any time soon as I'm still in school, but it is so heart-warm

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  8. me want to open my heart and my home up to non-biological children in the future

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