Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt

In many ways, the story of A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life is predictable. An adopted child's biological mother wishes to see her; the daughter isn't ready. She finally agrees. They bond. The mother reveals she is terminally ill, and the daughter finds the mother only to lose her again. But she is changed forever by the experience.
What makes A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life worth reading is Simone, the main character, and her distinct, fresh voice. Her adopted parents are present and caring, and her relationship with her younger brother is a positive one. She is not haunted by her adoption and is not interested in meeting her mother. Still, when her parents begin to press her, Simone finally agrees to meet with Rivka, and she discovers a piece of her heritage that she has, perhaps unknowingly, been missing. Rivka, the daughter of a Jewish Orthodox rabbi, is very much a practicing Jew. Simone, like her adoptive parents, identifies herself as an atheist (she even belongs to an atheist student group). But Rivka's quiet faith has appeal for Simone, and much of her limited time with Rivka is spent exploring not just her family's history, but what it means to be Jewish - and what it means to have faith in something larger than yourself.


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