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A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life
Cover of A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life
A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life
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Simone's starting her junior year in high school. Her mom's a lawyer for the ACLU, her dad's a political cartoonist, so she's grown up standing outside the organic food coop asking people to sign...
Simone's starting her junior year in high school. Her mom's a lawyer for the ACLU, her dad's a political cartoonist, so she's grown up standing outside the organic food coop asking people to sign...
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Description-

  • Simone's starting her junior year in high school. Her mom's a lawyer for the ACLU, her dad's a political cartoonist, so she's grown up standing outside the organic food coop asking people to sign petitions for worthy causes. She's got a terrific younger brother and amazing friends. And she's got a secret crush on a really smart and funny guy–who spends all of his time with another girl.
    Then her birth mother contacts her. Simone's always known she was adopted, but she never wanted to know anything about it. She's happy with her family just as it is, thank you.
    She learns who her birth mother was–a 16-year-old girl named Rivka. Who is Rivka? Why has she contacted Simone? Why now? The answers lead Simone to deeper feelings of anguish and love than she has ever known, and to question everything she once took for granted about faith, life, the afterlife, and what it means to be a daughter.
 

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Excerpts-

  • From the book

    Look at us. A family of four. Seated around the dinner table. Someone asks: "Pass the couscous." The son. The younger of the two children, he has a mop of sandy blond hair the girls in his class find excuses to touch. The older sister pretends to spit in the couscous before she slides it over to him. He rolls his eyes. The parents don't notice. They're unusually quiet tonight. Mom is at one end of the table, Dad at the other. Here we are. We do this every night. We eat our dinner together. Isn't it perfect? Aren't we the perfect family?

    Now look more closely. The mother also has that sandy blond hair, although hers is tied back in a loose ponytail, and let's face it: she probably could be more attentive to those split ends. The father doesn't have much hair to speak of and what he does have is darker, but the pictures in the hallway reveal that he was once a fair-haired boy with a suspicious glare for the camera.

    Now look at the older sister. The differences don't stop at the hair. I have olive skin and almond eyes. I don't have the father's dimpled chin. I don't have the mother's husky voice. I'm a whiz in math. I can fold my tongue into the shape of a U. Did you know that the ability to do that is hereditary? No one else in my family can do that.
    This is where we are all sitting, at the dining room table, eating Dad's Moroccan chicken with couscous, when my mother puts down her fork, fixes me with one of her looks, and says, "Rivka called. She wants to meet you."


    Let's back up. Let me tell you about my day. When I was really little my parents used to start every morning by saying, "Let me tell you about your day." They'd go through every detail: "And then you are going to read some books, then you are going to have a nap, then Daddy's going to take you to the park to play with Cleo, then we're going to eat dinner . . ." Not exactly riveting information, but they said I had a problem with control and that I needed to feel like not every decision was being made for me. By the way, you'll notice that every decision was indeed being made for me, and telling me about these decisions wasn't giving me any real control over them, only the illusion that I had control over them. Which is kind of sneaky. Anyway. Let me tell you about my day and what preceded the Moroccan chicken and couscous and my parents dropping the bomb of Rivka on me.


    School started last week. So you can probably imagine what it's like. There's a feeling like the year can go any way you want it to: teachers don't know you yet, your clothes are new, your hair is freshly cut and styled, and also Cleo's boobs got really big over the summer. I had suspected this all summer long and mentioned it to her on more than one occasion, but you know how it is hard to notice changes when they're happening right in front of you. So when we got back to school and a few of our other friends said something to her, she started to realize that maybe it really was true and maybe she should actually go to one of those old, heavily perfumed ladies in the women's intimates department at Filene's and get herself measured for a new bra because, as I mentioned, I'm pretty good at math, which includes geometry, and I can tell you with confidence that she is no longer a 32B. And then today Conor Spence, who's a total jerko jock but is also kind of hot if you like guys like that, which neither of us does, stopped and said, "Nice tits, Warner" to Cleo as we walked by him in the hallway, and she was totally mortified but also, I imagine, a little bit thrilled.

    So after Cleo's boobs literally stopped traffic, we went to English, which is the only class we have together this semester. We've been...

About the Author-

  • Dana Reinhardt is a nonpracticing attorney who has worked on documentaries on many subjects. She and her husband have two small children and live in Los Angeles.

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine Samone has always known she was adopted but has had no interest in knowing her biological family. Suddenly her parents are urging her to call her birth mother, who has expressed interest in building a relationship. Mandy Siegfried has the voice to bring this 16-year-old's coming-of-age story to life--funny, confused, searching, self-absorbed. But, while illustrating the power of faith and family, this book is highly inappropriate for its target audience. Reliance on foul language and a preoccupation with casual sex will offend many long before they reach the predictable end that sees Samone take a large step toward becoming a mature, caring adult. N.E.M. (c) AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 2, 2006
    In a moving first novel, Reinhardt uses a sure but gentle hand to explore the relationship that develops between an adopted teen and her biological mother. Simone Turner-Bloom, 16, has always known she was adopted but has avoided asking questions about her past. She thinks of Rivka, the woman who gave her up at birth, in abstract terms: "Rivka became just a word to me, one with geometric shape, all angles and points. Somehow I've managed to keep myself from attaching it to a face." Thus it comes as a shock when Rivka calls to suggest that the two of them meet. Reluctantly agreeing, Simone is unprepared for the profound impact the reunion has on her life. During the next several weeks as she becomes acquainted with her biological mother, Simone learns of her Orthodox Jewish roots and is introduced to a new culture. As Rivka's tragic history gradually unfolds, Simone finds herself questioning things that have previously seemed irrelevant: the circumstances of her adoption, the possible existence of God and the meaning of family. At the same time, she enters her first serious relationship with a boy, who acts as both guide and confidante during Simone's "chapter" of self-discovery. Besides offering insight into the customs of Hasidic Jews, this intimate story celebrates family love and promotes tolerance of diverse beliefs. Readers will quickly become absorbed in Simone's quest to understand her heritage and herself. Ages 12-up.

  • - Kliatt, Starred "An outstanding first novel by an enormously talented writer."

Title Information+

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    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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