Thursday, March 7, 2013

Replacement Child

My goal is to read 100 books by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 23.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Seal Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Replacement Child by Judy Mandel

In 1952, a plane crashes into the home of the Mandel family, killing 7 year old Donna and leaving 2 year old Linda with burns over 80% of her body.  Two years later their parents attempt to heal their grief by having a "replacement child", Judy (the author of this memoir).  In 2006, after both of her parents have died, Judy dives into researching the accident (through newspaper clippings, notes from her parents, and interviews with Linda), hoping to understand her family and the lasting impact it has had on her relationships and self-esteem.

My opinion:
This book was incredibly interesting.  Judy obviously loves her parents and has done a lot of research (and probably some therapy as well) to understand their actions and justify some of their decisions.  For example, Judy describes how hurt she was as a child when her father didn't compliment her appearance, but then went on to reason that her father didn't want to emphasize physical beauty in front of Linda (who was left horribly scarred from the accident).  Her parents thought they were shielding her by not talking about the accident or Donna (Judy didn't even know Donna's birthday until she was researching this book), but she actually felt isolated because this huge tragedy was something that her parents shared with her sister but not with her (a point of view I had never considered before).  This book was emotional but not whiny, and analytical but not dry.
The main reason I will not rate this book higher is because it was a little hard to follow.  Jumping between present and past was used in this book very effectively, but I think the past could have been presented in something a little closer to chronological order.

Recommended if you're interested in psychology, family dynamics, and the lasting impact parents can have on their children.

Quote from the Book:
"Reading the news stories, I recognize the familiar feeling of being separate from my family, like I have always been pressing my nose up against the glass trying to get inside."

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