Review: Somewhere Out There by Amy Hatvany

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••☆••*´¨`*•.☆••4 stars ☆••*´¨`*•.☆

What it’s about:

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.

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Review:

Somewhere Out There by Amy Hatvany is an emotional tale of love, regret, and loss.  It’s a story about mothers’ love—all types of mothers and various ways of showing love. This compelling read is filled with believable characters, tragic situations, and a satisfying ending that brings closure and a modicum of healing.

Jennifer is teen mom with no means to care for her two infant daughters gives them up in hopes they’ll have a better life. After two stints in prison, she gets her life together but has no drive or desire to try to find her daughters.

Brooke was a baby herself when her mother left her to watch her sister while she shoplifted food for them.   She was crushed when her mother never returned for her, and when her baby sister, Natalie, is adopted, she has lost all her family. Her arduous years in foster care and group homes broke my heart. She has grown into a self-sufficient woman who is driven to not need anything from anyone. She aged out of the system at 18, and she spent the last twenty years working multiple jobs to get by.

Natalie grew up in a loving home. She is gracious, well educated, and runs her own business. Her adoptive parents reluctantly tell Natalie of her adoption when she is ten, however, they neglect to tell her she has a sister out of fear that Natalie might want to know her biological family.

I found Natalie’s insecure and selfish mother to be unlikable. I can’t fathom that she would separate siblings by only adopting one. The nail in her coffin for me was her keeping Natalie’s sister a secret. I am still trying to wrap my head around Natalie being so forgiving of this huge lie.

Brooke juxtaposed to Natalie highlights all that can go wrong in foster care. Natalie was so fortunate to be adopted, raised by people who made her feel important, loved and supported. The good fortune to get adopted has clearly led to an easier life for her. On the other hand, Brooke has struggled every step of the way, and she has no one in her life. Well into her 30’s, emotionally Brooke is still an abandoned little girl. I dare you not to contemplate becoming a foster parent when reading this book!

“Somewhere out there, if love can see us through

Then we’ll be together, somewhere out there

Out where dreams come true” –Linda Ronstadt

Natalie and Brooke eventually find one another, and Somewhere Out There is about how they tentatively navigate building a relationship. Their trials and tribulations squeezed my heart. Older sister Brooke lowers her guard and acknowledges how much she needs someone in her life. Natalie gets the opportunity to give her sister the nurturing and support she needs. I was intrigued by the sisters’ role reversal; at the start of the book, Brooke helps care for her baby sister, and when they are reunited, Natalie cares and supports her fragile older sister.

Somewhere Out There is heart-tugging women’s literature. It’s a story of fragmented people trying to piece together their broken hearts like a jigsaw puzzle with a missing piece.

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About the author:  Amy Hatvany was born in Seattle, WA in 1972, the youngest of three children. She graduated from Western Washington University in 1994 with a degree in Sociology only to discover most sociologists are unemployed. Soon followed a variety of jobs – some of which she loved, like decorating wedding cakes; others which she merely tolerated, like receptionist. In 1998, Amy finally decided to sell her car, quit her job, and take a chance on writing books.

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