Picture this (I’m channeling my inner Sophia Petrillo from The Golden Girls here):
The year was 1959. Her name was Jenny Jaffe. She lived in a wealthy Jewish neighborhood in Kansas City where gentile boys were off limits. Especially a boy who has tattoos, was a mostly penniless drifter from California, had spent time in jail, and who would get in a fight with another man for looking at her the wrong way. But, the heart wants what the heart wants, right? Right. Before she even really knew what was happening to her, Jenny found herself falling in love with Will McDonald, and the two of them became inseparable in everyway. She didn’t care that her parents disapproved or that he didn’t really have two pennies to rub together. All she cared about was that he loved her in a way that no one had ever loved her before, and no one would ever love like that again. Of course, their love wasn’t easy, and before it even really got two feet firmly planted on the ground, it got even more complicated — Jenny was pregnant! They made a plan to run away together, and Jenny waited at the spot where Will was supposed to pick her up but, he never showed — and now her only option is to listen to her parents as they force her to give up her baby for adoption. What happens next is a story of true love that spans over three decades – between man and woman and between parent and child — a story filled with lies and betrayal, silence and sacrifice, and a passion and strength to uncover the truth.
The story I’m describing is Somebody’s Baby by Elaine Kagan. The story is spilt into four sections each which intermingle with each other voicing each of the characters points of view of their situations. The first section is told from Jenny’s perspective which is filled with her desire to be with Will and her dislike of her parents, in particular her mother. The second section is told from Claudia’s perspective. Claudia is the baby that Jenny gave up for adoption – only she is no longer a baby. She is 35 years old now and is a parent herself which has forced her to question her own childhood and her desire to find out her true parentage. The third section is told from both Jenny and Claudia’s perspectives as they interact for the first time in so many years as mother and daughter. It also addresses the conflict that Claudia feels regarding wondering if she is betraying her adoptive parents by searching for her biological ones. Finally, the final section of the story is told from Will’s perspective as he meets his daughter, and wonders what it would be like to once again be able to reconnect with her mother. Do Jenny and Will ever reconnect? I guess you’ll have to read the story to find out!
Overall, I loved Somebody’s Baby. I found all the characters to be enjoyable, except for the ones that you were obviously supposed to dislike, and I found that I was able to empathize with all of them throughout the journey that they were going on. It was a really quick read for me because I wanted to know what happened to each of the characters and how the story was going to resolve itself. Personally, I feel that if you’re looking for a romance about love that lasts through years of separation and trial, you should pick up Somebody’s Baby and give it a shot. Or if you’re looking for a story about an adopted woman’s search for identity, you should pick up Somebody’s Baby and give it a shot. Honestly, I feel that you will find both of these stories intermingling within this same well written enjoyable novel, and hopefully you will enjoy them as much as I did!
Disclosure: Purchased at a library book sale
Other reviews of Somebody’s Baby by Elaine Kagan:
Haven’t found any on a cursory google search.