REVIEW: WHAT WAS MINE, BY HELEN KLEIN ROSS

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Simply told but deeply affecting, in the bestselling tradition of Alice McDermott and Tom Perrotta, this urgent novel unravels the heartrending yet unsentimental tale of a woman who kidnaps a baby in a superstore—and gets away with it for twenty-one years.

While the idea of feeling anything but horror for such a woman would normally be a predominant one, I found myself empathizing with Lucy, the “kidnapper,” whose almost obsessive desire for a baby leads to such a horrific act.  The author skillfully takes us through her thought processes, breaking them down into manageable moments that slowly turn into something almost palatable…and then, just when we think we can live with what she did, the repercussions start happening.  Life comes undone.

With part of the story in Lucy’s voice, we come to understand her.  But what about all those whose lives were damaged?  We view the perspectives of Marilyn, the mother of the kidnapped child; other people in Lucy’s life; Mia herself; and more characters as the pages lead us to what happens after.

From Manhattan to California, and finally to China, the story unfolds into some surprising developments. The emotions that Mia feels upon learning of Lucy’s actions soon change as she realizes, finally, that she was who she was because of Lucy. And despite the biological connection with Marilyn, parts of her would always belong to the woman who raised her.

In some ways, the conclusion to What Was Mine felt unfinished, as we are left not quite knowing what the outcome will be. But as we watch the pieces begin to coalesce, we are struck by how nothing is quite black and white, but in muted shades of gray. 4.5 stars.

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14 thoughts on “REVIEW: WHAT WAS MINE, BY HELEN KLEIN ROSS

  1. Oh Laurel this sounds so good – it is such an emotive subject and of course, usually when these sort of crimes occur in real life, the baby is quickly returned to the mother – I do like books that are able to make the reader realise that life isn’t always black and white.

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    1. I couldn’t help feeling amazed by this one….watching the actions of the MC felt like watching a train wreck, but then I found myself empathizing and even rooting for her! Thanks for stopping by, Majanka.

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  2. I agree that making the reader feel anything but horror at a situation such as this is quite an accomplishment. And, of course, I need to try this one myself. It seems amazing that one could get away with something like this for over 20 years, but we do know that stranger things have happened. Nice review.

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    1. I couldn’t believe how I felt about her after a while, hoping she could keep the life she “stole” for…and I don’t know if that is what the author intended us to feel, but that’s how it was for me. Thanks for stopping by, Kay.

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  3. Wow. I love the premise of this book and that fact that we get so many different points of view. It sounds very well written and very moving. A thinking man’s novel. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one!

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  4. Great review, Laurel-Rain! I really loved that the author could make me feel so much for Lucy! I never thought I’d be able to actually root for her, a little bit, after what she had done. It was really well done the way the story was told, and I loved that Lucy never forgot how it was that she became a mother, keeping tabs on Marilyn, and still wanting to keep Mia to herself.

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    1. Thanks, Lexxie, and I agree…Lucy was a character hard to imagine rooting for, but somehow I did. And found myself happy with how things turned out, although the ending was a little vague.

      Like Lucy, I was annoyed that Marilyn walked off and left the baby in the shopping cart…

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