Saturday, January 15, 2011

My Family, A Symphony: A memoir of global adoption by Aaron Eske

Here's one more entry in my never ending fascination with adoption memoir.  I spied this one on the table at  my local bookstore just before Christmas and lo and behold, Santa brought it for me.  Thanks Santa!

Mr. Eske writes this memoir at age 25.  Although his story is compelling, it felt like it could have gelled a few more years.  I never thought I would say this but 25 is far too young to write a memoir.  The book tries to do too much in a relatively short space.  My family, A Symphony is part adoption history (interesting), part global economic theory that leads to a the phenomenon of orphans in developing countries, Eske's own story of being the biological child of parents who went on to adopt 4 orphans from India and Korea, and a travel memoir as he sets about traveling the globe to visit his siblings' origins.  Got all that?

Although it is an interesting entry in the adoption memoir canon, and does have some really lovely moments, it felt largely thin and in need of so much extra story.  I really wanted to read so much more about his family as it was forming.  What were his siblings thinking and feeling as they came of age in that household?  His older siblings must have registered some immediate response to being moved from a life of poverty to a life of family and the riches of America, I would like to know more about those moments?  I felt that his own story, while interesting, was missing many  angles and details.  It was like being invited to a sumptuous buffet and being offered only some cheese and crackers.  Good cheese and crackers, but I knew there was so much more out there.

As someone who has been part of an international adoption myself, I was particularly interested in the works of Holt International and how they began the modern international adoption movement.  His stories of Grandma Holt and her eight Korean adoptions has lead me wanting to read her biography.  Also, his own travel memoir felt slightly abbreviated as well.  Again, I felt like it was just skimming the surface of what could be a fascinating travel story.

I will look forward to reading Aaron's next book and perhaps each of his siblings' books as well.

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