Review: What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross

Simply told but deeply affecting, in the bestselling tradition of Alice McDermott and Tom Perrotta, this urgent novel unravels the heartrending yet unsentimental tale of a woman who kidnaps a baby in a superstore—and gets away with it for twenty-one years.

Lucy Wakefield is a seemingly ordinary woman who does something extraordinary in a desperate moment: she takes a baby girl from a shopping cart and raises her as her own. It’s a secret she manages to keep for over two decades—from her daughter, the babysitter who helped raise her, family, coworkers, and friends.

When Lucy’s now-grown daughter Mia discovers the devastating truth of her origins, she is overwhelmed by confusion and anger and determines not to speak again to the mother who raised her. She reaches out to her birth mother for a tearful reunion, and Lucy is forced to flee to China to avoid prosecution. What follows is a ripple effect that alters the lives of many and challenges our understanding of the very meaning of motherhood.

Author Helen Klein Ross, whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, weaves a powerful story of upheaval and resilience told from the alternating perspectives of Lucy, Mia, Mia’s birth mother, and others intimately involved in the kidnapping. What Was Mine is a compelling tale of motherhood and loss, of grief and hope, and the life-shattering effects of a single, irrevocable moment. 

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My 3 Star Review

As a parent, the thought of one of my children being kidnapped is inconceivable. I don't think that is something I could come back from. So, being a parent, I expected so much more from this book. Before I explain myself, let me say this is a good book. It's just not the profound and moving book I was expecting.

This story is told in more of an interview stlye. It reads like someone is recounting the events in their life. Which, really is happening. Lucy kidnaps baby. The parents are devistated and have a hard time moving forward. Years down the road Mia, the baby who was kidnapped, finds out who she really is. This is where I really expected to get a gripping story. However, I didn't. Things were so matter of fact. 

I had hoped for a huge climax in this story. I expected to be heartbroken. I expected to feel all sorts of emotions. None of these never really came. This story had no true emotion to it. It fell kind of flat for me. Like I said, it is a good book, but not a great and profound book. This kind of story calls for great and profound. If you are looking for a story you can sit and get lost in without too much emotional turmoil, this is definitely a story for you.

Helen spent decades in the ad trenches as a copywriter before venturing out of the conference room into a room of her own, to make books.