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.
Ross crafts a surprisingly sensitive meditation on the definitions of family and motherhood around a ripped-from-the-tabloids story. Reeling from a collapsed marriage and yearning to be a mother, Lucy Wakefield is perhaps not totally in her right mind when she snatches an unattended four-month-old infant from an Ikea shopping cart. Renaming the baby Mia, Lucy raises her to adulthood without arousing suspicion from the child's family, friends, or nanny. Twenty-one years later, though, a convoluted twist involving a bestselling novel and a few Facebook searches brings the secret to light, and Mia is confronted with the shocking truth. As Lucy flees to China to avoid prosecution, Mia travels from New York to California to meet her birth family, but for Mia, coming to terms with this information is not quite so simple as assuming her old identity, and however angry she feels at Lucy, she finds it hard to reconcile the warm, loving mother she's known with the actions of a kidnapper. Although the process by which Mia's abduction comes out seems unrealistic and the shifting first-person narration doesn't fully cohere, Ross deftly creates genuinely sympathetic characters and emotionally resonant prose around what could have felt sensationalistic.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Worst ending! Don't bother
This was a waste of my time for the crappy ending you gave us.
Don't bother purchasing because nothing happens.
What was mine
Didn't like the ending!!
I managed to stay interested enough in this book to finish it, but wouldn’t give it a strong recommendation. The coincidences of certain occurrences are beyond silly (the book reading, winding up an hour away from the only person you know in a country the size of China?). But my biggest problem is the lack of character development; most of the people telling the story are little more than caricatures, and the kidnapped daughter is so shallow and self-absorbed I could not care less about her by the end.