Giving Away Simone

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The romanticized picture of adoption—overjoyed childless couple and complacent birth mother who quietly leaves the scene—fades quickly as Jan Waldron unfolds her story: her own mother’s abandonment when she is eleven, her pregnancy and birth experience, the relinquishment of her three-week-old daughter to adoptive parents, the birth several years later of two sons whom she keeps, and her reunion with her daughter (renamed Rebecca).

Rebecca writes her own very separate struggle as an adoptee, primarily through the inclusion of letters exchanged between her and her birthmother. Waldron and her daughter do not present a sentimentalized depiction of adoption; the joy and healing are interwoven with confusion and turmoil. There are no formulas for easy methods of reconciliation, only the fiercely honest attempts at understanding and acceptance.

GIVING AWAY SIMONE is a story of five generations of women who chose to leave their children, all intertwined across the decades by memories and inherited pain. Drawing upon an instinctual strength, Waldron is determined to end the cycle of leaving. The last page is simply the end of the book. This story of love between a mother and daughter, and the redefinition of family will clearly continue beyond their lifetimes.

Jan Waldron writes from an urgent, deep conviction about the inability of women to give up their children without vast repercussions. She speaks passionately about the unique nature of each adoptive situation and decries society’s oversimplification of relinquishing one’s natural child. Her eloquent writing has the power to pull one quickly into this inspired story of generations. The selection of this beautifully written memoir as a notable book is a well-deserved honor.