This month’s book review is something a bit different. Inconvenient Daughter is a novel written by Lauren J Sharkey about the heartbreak and joy of a young woman searching for her identity.
One of the things that have taken a back seat in my life since I became a mum, is reading. I’ve always loved to read and losing myself in a gripping novel is something I’ve really missed. Reviewing Lauren’s book has been the perfect opportunity for me to get back into it. I’ve been surprised at how easy it is to squeeze in half an hour here and there so it’s something I’ve promised myself I’m going to stick to.
Lauren kindly sent me a copy of her book so that I could do the review.
Inconvenient Daughter is a story exploring Rowan’s struggle to work out where she fits into the world as she grows up. She was adopted from Korea when she was a young child, by a white American family. As she grows up, her feelings of isolation and not belonging escalate and start to rule her life.
The story is fast paced and keeps you engaged on every page. It moves in time from the present, to explore certain times in Rowan’s past. That’s something I don’t usually like in novels, but I think it works really well here. The time frames are clear and easy to follow which is good if, like me, you’re dipping in and out of the book when time allows.
As an adoptive parent, it’s given me an insight into some of the feelings my daughters may experience as they grow up. The portrayal of Rowan’s relationship with the only mum she’s ever known is key throughout the story. The way her adult self is able to understand her mum’s feelings and actions when she looks back at her younger self, is fascinating.
Rowan is adopted, but that doesn’t make the story one which only adoptees will relate to. It covers a lot of issues that will strike a chord with many people who feel they don’t know where they belong and struggling to work out their identity and where they fit in.
I really enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend it. It’s re-ignited my passion for reading stories and I’m looking forward to reading Lauren’s next novel. Inconvenient Daughter is available to buy from a number of places, including Blackwells in the UK.
Lauren is going do a regular feature in the magazine over the next few months, sharing her experiences of adoption. It will be fortnightly with a specific topic being covered in each feature. Readers will be able to ask her questions about the topics to get a better insight into some of the issues faced by adoptees. She’s answered a few questions about herself to give you a bit of background.
Tell us about yourself
Hi! My name is Lauren and I am a Korean American transracial adoptee. Originally, I’m from Long Island, New York (it’s the little piece of land hanging off New York and looks kind of like a fish). However, last year I moved to Pittsburgh with my boyfriend. We live in an area called the Strip District, and there’s a doughnut shop four blocks from my apartment so I’m pretty happy here.
I’m a writer – my first book Inconvenient Daughter was published on June 23rd, and I currently have another book in progress. In my spare time, I enjoy baking, watching Netflix, and spin class!
What’s your favourite thing to do on a day off?
My favourite thing to do is to wake up naturally, without my alarm. Even though my body’s used to waking up early and the latest I usually sleep is probably close to 8:30AM, I love not having to hit the snooze button. I usually make breakfast – pancakes, eggs, bacon (of course) – which is something I don’t normally do on a day I have work.
Then I like to take a walk around my neighbourhood, do some shopping (there’s also lots of bakeries, chocolateries, and a shop completely dedicated to popcorn in short distance), and get some writing done.
What’s your favourite book and why?
It’s hard to pin down my favourite book. My favourite type of book is one in which I can find a piece of myself in the character. Whether it’s something the character is going through or where they live, I always like discovering we have something in common. I also love stories that change you. At the end of a really good book, I always find that I’m a different person because of it.
What inspired you to write “Inconvenient Daughter”?
So, it was definitely a combination of a lot of things. But I think the real inspiration behind Inconvenient Daughter was a desire to let other adoptees know they weren’t alone in their experience. That their voices and story matter, and hopefully begin to pave the way for others to share their stories.
Is any of it based on your experience of growing up as a transracially adopted child?
The first draft of Inconvenient Daughter was actually my thesis for graduate school, which had started as a memoir. There are definitely elements of my life and experience that I gave to Rowan. But the deeper I got into the book, I chose to make it a novel in order to fully explore the themes and characters I had in mind.
What was your childhood like?
I had a happy childhood – loving parents, vacations in the summer, an allowance when I actually did my chores. But as an Asian person growing up in a predominantly white neighbourhood, I struggled to find reflections of myself in others and it had a tremendous effect on my identity.
You’re going to be doing a regular feature in We Made a Wish magazine. What do you want to achieve from that?
There are two things I wish I’d had as a young adoptee – community and resources. For so long, I felt there was no one out there like me. Furthermore, I lacked the vocabulary to adequately express how and what I was feeling. My hope is to give back to the adoption community in a meaningful way. To let others know they aren’t alone, someone is listening, and hopefully to provide some resources for growth and healing.