The Shut Door

Losing Me, Finding Him

Non-Fiction - Memoir
250 Pages
Reviewed on 03/16/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Shut Door: Losing Me, Finding Him is a work of non-fiction in the memoir, autobiographical and introspective writing sub-genres, and was penned by author MeShayle Lester. The work is intended for the general reading audience and discusses the emotional trauma and how one’s identity can be shaken by paternity news within the family. As the author recounts the incredible revelations following her discovery that her father of 37 years was not her biological father, so begins a journey of self-exploration and the search for answers. From questions of God and Christianity to the true nature of soul-searching, this is the story of a woman finding strength against the doors which have been closed to her in life.

Author MeShayle Lester has crafted a heartfelt and harrowing work of non-fiction, but one with plenty of renewed hope, strength, and faith to offer readers who persevere with it. I found the work to be well organized in its storytelling and recollection of some quite incredible circumstances. In terms of the presentation of the author, I found that the use of close narration created a deeper emotional resonance, and I felt that there was a raw, honest quality to the prose which makes it highly readable and emphasizes the true grief of the process all the more. This is sure to teach important lessons for others finding themselves in this position and seeking help from those above and around them. Overall, I would highly recommend The Shut Door: Losing Me, Finding Him to fans of deeply emotive writing styles, fascinating real-life family stories, and for anyone experiencing similar feelings everywhere.

Deborah Lloyd

When MeShayle Lester wanted to know about her family history, she took a DNA test. But the results were unexpected and sent her on a quest to find her true ancestry. She shares her painful journey of seeking the truth in her memoir, The Shut Door: Losing Me, Finding Him. Additionally, she includes a number of helpful resources for those who do not know the identity of a biological parent, whether it is “adoption, sperm donorship, rape, misattributed paternity, and the list goes on.” The term, Not Parent Expected (NPE), has a support group and she includes the website address: npefellowship.org. MeShayle’s desire to be supported by her mother and siblings, and to find long-unidentified relatives, is difficult and disappointing. The shut door reflects the many rejections she experienced on this path.

However, MeShayle’s Christian faith has been her strength. She weaves in various Bible verses that were helpful to her at crucial times. One of the most interesting aspects of her Scriptural knowledge is how family dysfunctions have been evident throughout the ages. She relates stories from the Bible and how faith brings solace, even during the most challenging times. Although the door seems shut, there is always hope. Her style of writing flows smoothly as she is both informative and creative. She engages the reader in her story from the first page to the last. Author MeShayle Lester has presented a well-written memoir in The Shut Door: Losing Me, Finding Him. This book will touch all readers, but especially those who are experiencing similar situations.

Mamta Madhavan

The Shut Door: Losing Me, Finding Him by Meshayle Lester gives glimpses of the author's paternity surprise and the rollercoaster of emotions that followed. A shut door is an object used by the author to identify pain, rejection, and disappointment when it comes to unattainable relationships, and it also represents unanswered questions. The author shares her pain-filled journey from the start and how she escaped the madness of a paternity bombshell and everything that came with it. The author's story reiterates the power and presence of God in everyone's lives and takes readers closer to Him and to have trust and faith in Him.

The Shut Door is honest and straightforward and Meshayle Lester minces no words when it comes to sharing her story and her personal struggles, and how she rose above the challenges and made her life happen in a positive way. The author shares her shock at finding that her father was not actually her biological father after taking a DNA test, and how the truth threw her off her balance, emotionally, mentally, and physically. She also speaks about trying to find out about her biological father and how during her low times she sought the help of mental health professionals who helped her with her healing process. Her depression over the paternity issue, failure when it came to discovering the identity of her biological father, and the price she paid when attempting to finding answers have all been shared.

The Shut Door is a story of finding new relationships, forgiveness, acceptance, and finding serenity in the power of prayers. Meshayle Lester also speaks about the repetition of shut doors and how she managed to overcome the disappointments that came with it by giving a yes to God and pinning her faith and hopes in Him. This is encouraging to many readers out there who are facing challenges and adversities in their personal lives. It will also show them the importance of self-care, to put themselves first, right after God.

Jennifer Ibiam

The Shut Door by MeShayle Lester is a faith-based memoir that details her struggles and finding God. MeShayle was the last girl out of six children and was barely grown when her parents got divorced. She struggled through daddy issues but found her way. She also got closer to her dad, and they saw each other often, even though he lived far away. The relationship with her dad was so strong that she became interested in knowing his roots. Meshayle ordered DNA test kits for her and her dad so that they could match their ancestry. The results showing that he couldn’t have fathered her was an enormous blow that sent her rolling downhill. The journey to finding her father began. Read how she lets God step in.

I finished reading The Shut Door by MeShayle Lester and heaved a deep sigh. My feelings were mixed because of the magnitude of her heartbreak; her family’s reaction, the mental and physical struggles, the place of God, and her faith. If “be careful what you wish for” was a book, this would be it. How could she have known that the man she loved so much wasn’t her biological dad after all? Would she have gone ahead with the test if given a second chance? She gave her answer in the book. MeShayle is a resilient woman because even before she turned 19, she already had her fair share of trials. However, she reached for the top in areas she ventured. I love that she never forgot the place of God and let go to let him. MeShayle was spiritually sensitive, and this helped her a lot during her travails. She has written a book that brings hope to people who are in search of their roots.

Cecelia Hopkins

The Shut Door by Meshayle Lester tells the tale of the author’s shattering experience after taking DNA tests. The writer’s parents separated when she was young, but while she was reconnecting with her father as an adult, she began to compile her family tree. Father and daughter both took kit DNA tests. The results showed many matches on her mother’s side, but no similarity to her father. Neither parent could or would provide an explanation. Meshayle continued research into her DNA and DNA testing. She connected with a “Non-Parental event” support group. She experienced grief, anger, and depression as she processed her loss of identity. Moreover, she was rejected by potential families she contacted. Finally, she began to take comfort from her belief in her heavenly father, and the biblical stories of Moses, Hagar, Tamar, and Joseph.

The Shut Door by Meshayle Lester tackles the age-old issue of heritage and the modern dilemma of science. The puzzle represented by the negative paternity test made compelling reading. Then the final sections of The Shut Door by Meshayle Lester were fascinating because the writer personalized a number of Bible passages, turning them into poems and personal meditations. Lester’s style was open and vulnerable, making her memoir convincing. Lester poignantly and sensitively expresses sympathy for people who do not know their birth parents due to adoption or other tragic events. The Shut Door should be recommended reading for those seeking a better understanding of the processes of grief, loss, and other serious mental health issues.