At the age of sixteen, shy introverted Naomi makes a harrowing adult decision about the future of her baby daughter. Sixteen years later, Carrie faces painful challenges of her own. These two very different girls from two different generations, are linked only by the invisible threads of DNA, but as their stories unfold, moving parallels as well as differences between their experiences emerge, lending unusual honesty and force to this compelling novel.
Annie Dalton has paired up with her adopted daughter to create this inventive if uneven dual portrait of a British teen trying to find where she belongs among family and friends; and her birth mother, who gave the child up for adoption after delivering her on her 16th birthday. Written in the alternating voices of the teen and her birth mother, the novel opens as Carrie-Anne celebrates her 16th birthday with her adoptive parents and muses, "This day, my birthday, reminds me that there is a woman out there, and by bone and by blood I belong to her. I am that woman's shame and regret." Naomi, the teen's biological mother, first recounts Carrie-Anne's birth, then flashes back to her own childhood. Naomi lived with a needy, eccentric mother, who repeatedly glommed onto individuals she-usually mistakenly-perceived as "soul mates," only to return her attention to her daughter when they let her down. Describing this pattern, Naomi perceptively notes, "When did she get to be the child, causing mayhem, while I'm stuck with playing responsible adult?" Carrie-Anne meanwhile struggles with her own volatile relationship with her adoptive mother, and the situation worsens when the teen tells her that she wants to find her "real mum." Curiously, Naomi's account of her young life is more compelling and immediate than Carrie-Anne's present-day narrative, which occasionally borders on melodrama. Yet these two threads weave a variegated fabric, revealing the complexities of loss, of finding one's place and of the mother-daughter bond. Ages 14-up.