cover image Inconvenient Daughter

Inconvenient Daughter

Lauren J. Sharkey. Akashic, $15.95 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-1-61775-709-9

In Sharkey’s stirring if uneven debut, a transracial adoptee of Korean descent endures a crisis of identity. At the novel’s start, 24-year-old Rowan Kelly is at the ER to report a sexual assault, and a question about her family medical history leads her to reflect on her complicated feelings about being adopted, as well as self-esteem issues and abusive relationships. From there, the narrative jumps back to Rowan’s first day of elementary school, when another student mocks Rowan for looking different from her mother. Though Rowan has a positive relationship with her mother as a child on Long Island, it begins to fracture once Rowan enters high school and pursues a relationship with an older boy. Frustrated by her mother’s rules, Rowan escapes to college in Pennsylvania, where she meets fellow student Hunter, who cuts Rowan off from all of her friends and family, making her entirely dependent on him, and is physically abusive. Sharkey gradually circles back to the opening scene in the ER, describing the legacy of Hunter’s abuse and the persistent voice of self-criticism in Rowan’s head. Though things start slowly, Sharkey achieves a moving account of Rowan’s difficult reckoning with her identity. This is an adept portrayal of the long shadow of abuse and the difficulty of being an adoptee. (June)