cover image Ithaka: A Daughter's Memoir of Being Found

Ithaka: A Daughter's Memoir of Being Found

Sarah Saffian. Basic Books, $23 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-465-03618-9

One month shy of her 24th birthday, Saffian received a telephone call from a woman who simply said, ""Sarah, my name is Hannah Morgan. I think I'm your birth mother."" What makes this story different from those on talk shows or in magazines and tabloids is that Saffian did not instigate the search; instead, her birth parents sought her out. The theme of ""being found"" when one wasn't particularly lost is the thread that holds the book together. The fact that the decision to contact--and even establish a relationship with--her birth parents was taken out of her hands sent Saffian into a three-year period of confusion during which she lost control of her career, relationships and social life. During those years, her birth father pushed for a reunion, but Saffian was apprehensive and suggested exchanging letters. These letters, interwoven with the daily events and emotions of Saffian's life, provide a documented history of her birth parents' eagerness to get to know their lost daughter, and Saffian's hesitation. The reunion finally took place, but it was Saffian's acceptance of her birth parents that is the real climax: ""Yes, a reunion with my birth parents is a profound experience, but ultimately, they are just people, I am just a person, we are just meeting. What we do together is unremarkable: chop vegetables, pad around the house in socks, watch home videos, take walks. Maybe that is exactly what is so wonderfully remarkable about it."" Admirably free of self-pity, this is a thoughtful investigation into what makes a family. $25,000 ad/promo; author tour. (Nov.)