This book made me squirm. It made me judge and question the author’s choices. It made me roll my eyes and raise my eyebrows. It made me cry because all the uncomfortable moments, all the judging, was because it all rang so true.
Mierau’s anger and disappointment and frustrations hit close to home. My boys are the same age as his sons were when he adopted them from the Ukraine, three and five. The non-stop chatter and noise and fighting and tantrums he describes are all too familiar, but it’s the contrast between Mierau’s struggle to connect with his new family and the moments of fierce love and protectiveness that got to me. I’m not dealing with the fallout of adoption or attachment disorder and I still struggle with those things.
Mierau and his wife get a crash course in what happens to most couples when they have kids. They didn’t have the baby years to get used to things – but, as Mierau quips, they also have two kids and never changed a diaper. So the resentment doesn’t have as long to build up, either, but it’s there. I would *love* to hear his wife’s side of some of the arguments described in excruciating detail here.
There’s a family history and account of war atrocities and of how Mennonites made their way to Canada layered here too. I got a little lost in these passages, maybe because my knowledge of this particular migration is pretty sketchy, but probably because I found the present day domestic drama so interesting, I just wanted to get back there.
This is the first book of Bookstravaganza that I feel I’m doing a disservice by reviewing so quickly. I had a really strong reaction to this book. I was stunned upon finishing and tried to convince my husband to read it, but couldn’t quite describe why – not because it’s a how-to guide, or a how-not-to cautionary tale, or some lurid look at neglected children; it’s not any of those. Partly because it’s a parenting memoir by a dad, yeah, but mostly because it’s just so raw and honest. It made me think about my parenting and the significance of these ages, five and three, where memory begins. It reminded me that the difficulties in raising young kids are universal, while giving perspective (my difficulties are pretty small potatoes.) I’m not surprised that the author is receiving all sorts of weird requests and tributes – I felt the same way, like, I need to talk to this guy. I want to know how the kids are doing, how he’s doing, nearly ten years after the adoption. I want to say thanks.
All this in a very short book that I know I’ll be thinking about for a while – and probably writing more about too.
Thank you to Freehand Books for the review copy!
Books read: 9