Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Review: Somewhere Out There

Summary: What happens when two sisters who were torn apart when their young mother abandoned them—and grew up in tragically different circumstances—reunite thirty-five years later to find her? For readers who love Jodi Picoult, acclaimed author Amy Hatvany fearlessly explores complex family issues in her gripping, provocative new novel.

Natalie Clark knew never to ask her sensitive adoptive mother questions about her past. She doesn’t even know her birth mother’s name—only that the young woman signed parental rights over to the state when Natalie was a baby. Now Natalie’s own daughter must complete a family tree project for school, and Natalie is determined to unearth the truth about her roots.

Brooke Walker doesn’t have a family. At least, that’s what she tells herself after being separated from her mother and her little sister at age four. Having grown up in a state facility and countless foster homes, Brooke survives the only way she knows how, by relying on herself. So when she discovers she’s pregnant, Brooke faces a heart-wrenching decision: give up her baby or raise the child completely on her own. Scared and confused, she feels lost until a surprise encounter gives her hope for the future.

How do our early experiences—the subtle and the traumatic—define us as adults? How do we build relationships when we’ve been deprived of real connection? Critically acclaimed author Amy Hatvany considers controversial and complicated questions about childhood through the lens of her finely crafted characters in this astute novel about mending wounds by diving into the truth of what first tore us apart. -- Washington Square Press

I make it a point to read every novel that Amy Hatvany writes. I enjoy her character development and I like the challenges that her characters face. She just seems to "get it"... if that makes sense. She's done it again with her latest novel SOMEWHERE OUT THERE. This novel had some terrific characters and provided some food for thought about childhood, family, and parent/child relationships (or lack thereof!)

SOMEWHERE OUT THERE features two sisters who grew up in different worlds only to meet 35 years later. Natalie Clark grew up with loving parents. She knew that she was adopted but had no idea who her birth mother was. When her daughter comes home from school with a family tree assignment, it causes Natalie to re-examine everything she thought she knew about her childhood.

Brooke Walker is pretty much all on her own, but she is a survivor. She was a bit older when her mother turned them over to the state, and she grew up in various foster homes and finally a state facility. Her life was far from ideal and she learned that life wasn't fair and only to trust herself. When Brooke finds herself alone and pregnant, she is forced to confront her past while making a decision for her child's future.

When Natalie's parents finally tell her the truth... that she has an older sister, Natalie is determined to find her. She discovers that they grew up near to each other but in very different circumstances. While Natalie is desperate to meet her sister (and even her birth mother), Brooke is more guarded. Can these two women heal their past wounds and finally have a relationship after 35 years?

I really liked SOMEWHERE OUT THERE. It was a quick read for me and that's a testament to Ms. Hatvany. I quickly became caught up in Natalie's and Brooke's lives, and I was able to feel their pain and then their hope. I don't want to give too much away, but I was very satisfied with the ending. It would have been very easy to wrap everything up with a nice big bow, but Ms. Hatvany kept things real for the reader.

There were quite a few things that impressed me about SOMEWHERE OUT THERE. While I did appreciate how well developed the characters of Natalie and Brooke were, I really liked how Ms. Hatvany told this story. There were chapters about each woman which gave me insight into their lives and their insecurities; however, there were also chapters about their mother Jennifer. I found Jennifer's story to be especially interesting -- to see why a mother would turn over her children to the state and how she lived with that for the rest of her life. I think Ms. Hatvany did a terrific job with making Jennifer real and complex.

I also really enjoyed how much this story made me think and feel. There are a lot of issues covered in the pages of this story, and many are controversial... or at least thought-provoking. As a result, SOMEWHERE OUT THERE would make an excellent book club selection. I wasn't able to find a formal discussion guide, but trust me when I say that you will have no problem finding topics to discuss. Some of the themes you might want to explore include parent/child relationships, childhood, motherhood, sacrifice, guilt, loss, second chances, and more.

SOMEWHERE OUT THERE will definitely appeal to fans of women's fiction. Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publisher for providing an e-copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

Wow, can you imagine finding out you were adopted that late in life? This sounds amazing!

Kate Unger said...

Sounds amazing! I've never even heard of Amy Hatvany. I am sure she will be an author I come to love. I added this book to my list, but I'll have to check out some of her other books as well. I love books about sisters, and this one seems especially complex with the adoption and pregnancy. Great review.

Kim@Time2Read said...

Just added this to my long, long TBR. Sounds like one I'm going to enjoy!