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Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite
Surrender: A Memoir of Nature, Nurture, and Love by Marylee MacDonald is a moving coming-of-age story about adoption straight from the heart. From the first few paragraphs, you will be touched by how adoption shaped her--from birth, through her formative years, and later, as a teenager and the surrender of her firstborn child from an unplanned pregnancy. The author captures the feelings, turmoil, and issues of living with uncertainty, confusion, and lack of support. You begin to realize that a great number of adopted children must experience some of the same emotions and struggles. Her craving to sort out nature/nurture is a major theme, as is her quest to nurture the child inside that lost out on so much.
Adoption, from all angles, seems to have permeated the author's life, and she has a beautiful way of conveying all the nuanced thoughts that come with it. I like that the book reads like a fiction novel as well as a memoir, complete with interesting dialogue, conflict, and pacing. MacDonald's style is honest yet full of grace. I like that she gives a brief introduction about her own adoption, and the surrendering of her son, and then backtracks to slowly pull you into the story and her inner conflicts, and how they affect her relationships, decisions, and self-image. The opening dialogue with her husband Bruce about moving to Phoenix is a priceless slice of life. It's about control, and you can cut the tense realism with a knife. As the story moves through its arcs and her desire to connect with her oldest child, you will be drawn deeper and deeper into it, until you become a part of this woman's life in a way and will find yourself relating to her, even though you may or may not have any experience with adoption. Surrender: A Memoir of Nature, Nurture, and Love by Marylee MacDonald is a must-have for your reading pile.