The Red Thread

Monday, May 24, 2010

Title: The Red Thread
Author: Ann Hood
Pages: 302
Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction
Publisher: W.W. Norton
Release Date: May 3, 2010

The Red Thread tells the story of 5 American couples as they each go through the process of trying to adopt a baby girl from China. Maya is the owner of the Red Thread adoption agency in which she tries to bring babies home to hopeful parents, in an attempt to try and compensate for the past death of her own child for which she feels responsible. The 5 couples vary in their reasoning for seeking out the adoptions. Alternating in small part with their stories are the individual stories of the Chinese families who had to place their daughter for adoption. Adoption is a difficult and strenuous process both for the biological and adoptive parents. The Red Thread illustrates this briefly but convincingly.

The myriad characters provide readers a variety of situations to relate to. One of the characters has been unable to get pregnant for uncertain infertility issues, another has a spiteful stepdaughter and, yet, only a multitude of miscarriages to show for her own biological children; one mother has a daughter with an extreme cognitive delay and secretly wishes for a child without any disabilities, etc. While I appreciated the bevy of situations to relate to, it did become confusing at times to separate them. The narration alternated between a variety of these characters and required constant self-reminding about each character. Especially when the stories of the Chinese families were added in. However, the stories of the Chinese families did add a lot to the book in that it provided that often forgotten perception of the situation. How awful must it be to live in a country that governs how many children you can have and tracks you down and questions you if there is suspicion you are illegally hiding a second daughter!

In some sense, this book could have included a lot more. As it was, it seemed a simple storyline that was neatly tidied up at the end. I would have liked to read more about the actual process of waiting for the referrals and the many emotions and thoughts that I'm sure are involved. I know in real life the process can be emotionally excruciating, and it seemed to fly by in the book. It may have been easier to achieve this if the narrative had focused on one or two of the characters rather than so many of them. In such, I wasn't as intensely affected as I expected to be considering I can relate to some of these characters. I was sure reading this would elicit tears for sure, and it didn't really. That being said, this was still a good book. It was just more of a fast and less emotional read than I expected.


Juju at Tales of said...

Interesting review. I love how you pointed out that you expected tears.

Melissa M said...

Adoption is such an emotional thing for everyone involved that I think the book would fall flat for me. I was really interested, but don't think I am in a rush to get to it now.

Zibilee said...

I almost bought this book a couple of weeks ago, but after reading your review, I am not sure if it's the book for me. I tend to dislike books with too many characters that aren't finely delineated. I am so thankful for your honest review on this one!

Jenny said...

Juju -- yeah, I thought I would have a good cry, lol!

Melissa -- yes, it's definitely emotional for so many reasons, and I hoped I'd feel it a little bit more with this one.

Heather -- I did like knowing a little about each of the characters, but I do think I would have liked better knowing more about fewer characters.

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