cover image Jessica Lost: A Story of Birth, Adoption & the Meaning of Motherhood

Jessica Lost: A Story of Birth, Adoption & the Meaning of Motherhood

Bunny Crumpacker and J.S. Picariello. Sterling/Union Square, $24.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-4027-7570-3

Told in alternating voices, Crumpacker and Picariello's memoir looks at the adoption process from two distinct perspectives: the mother who decides to put her child up for adoption and the daughter being put up for adoption. Chapters deal effectively and honestly with issues such as abandonment, identity, and forgiveness. In 1954, Crumpacker (The Sex Life of Food) became pregnant with a baby girl who she gave up for adoption four days after birth only to be reunited more than four decades later. Crumpacker talks about early strains on her first marriage and the circumstances that compelled her to give up her girl. "I didn't want to have an abortion. I wanted the baby to grow; I wanted it to be safe inside my body...I wanted this baby to have what I couldn't give it." Picariello writes of her childhood "in a classic suburban split level," house, of her younger brother Kenny, who was also adopted, and of her incessant curiosity over the years about her birth parents. In compelling prose, she also describes the tumultuous relationship she had with her adoptive mother, a woman she had difficulty confiding in but whom she cared for wholeheartedly. Picariello contrasts this connection with the one she develops with her biological mother. In doing so, she contributes substantially to this evocative meditation on love and family. Photos. (May)