Posts Tagged ‘reviews of Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir’

Book groups, a blog review, and conversations about motherhood

Friday, January 14th, 2011

If you belong to a book group, I hope you will consider choosing Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir as one of your selections. Here’s what two friends wrote about reactions from their membership:

Our Book Group started in October 1997…  We have now read 134 books, yours being the 134th.  We have read classics, non-fiction, contemporary works and books recently written by acquaintances.  Last night we had by far the most intense, intimate, lengthy discussion of a book – everyone loved it. 


Mamalita led to one of the best and most substantive book group discussions  we’ve had in our 10-year history – especially since everyone loved the book and there wasn’t anything to disagree about! It was amazing that the book seemed to resonate equally among the mothers, the adoptive mothers, and the non-mothers. And surprising how many people we all know who’ve been touched in some way by adoption.

If you loved the book, please suggest the title to your book club. Some sixty percent of Americans report being touched by adoption in some way. Chances are that some of those people are in your book group, and would also enjoy the read.

I’m pleased to link to this blog, Thighs & Offerings: Everyday Efforts at Embodied Spirituality, which reviewed Mamalita in terms of its theme of motherhood. Mamalita‘s first chapter opens with this sentence:  “I’ve never given birth, but I know the exact moment when I became a mother: 10 A.M., September 6, 2002.”  That was the day I met my daughter, the baby who would become Olivia, for the first time.

In her her blog post, Kate writes:

Mamalita is, according to Publishers Weekly, “[H]arrowing and moving…deftly handled.” And I agree. But as a young woman beginning to consider the possibility of one day becoming a mother myself, it is not only the enjoyment that I experience in reading a “deftly handled” memoir, but also the thought, conversation, and questions that such a memoir provokes that, to me, make O’Dwyer’s book worth reading. One such question has persisted, and has found its way into conversations even now, long after I finished the book. When, I have wondered time and time again, does a woman become a mother?

I’m a person who believes that we learn by asking questions and discussing. How wonderful that, for some people who have shared their views with me, reading Mamalita initiates that process.


More reviews for MAMALITA. One calls it “Part thriller, part love story, part exposé”

Friday, October 29th, 2010

What a great feeling to have readers respond to Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir. “Guateangel” wrote a review on Amazon that included this sentence: “As an adoptive mother who adopted from Guatemala I want to thank you for writing down everything many of us were afraid to speak about.” Thank you, Guateangel, for sharing your reaction. If Mamalita can help one person reflect on and possibly sort out her complicated adoption experience, I’m thrilled. 

This past week, Mamalita garnered some wonderful national press, as well.  I’m especially happy about the review in the November/December 2010 issue of Adoptive Families. Soon after Olivia joined our family, I began subscribing to AF, and over the years, I’ve appreciated its helpful, insightful, constructive advice.  The review is written by adoptive parent Tesi Kohlenberg.

Here are a few review excerpts. Where available, I’ve included the corresponding link so you can read the review in full.

Thanks for helping me spread the word about Mamalita!


 ”[A] richly written book, part thriller, part love story, part exposé… [A] cautionary tale.”
Adoptive Families Magazine

“Regardless of age or intent, this is a riveting read.” –Marin Magazine

“Kafkaesque… An important and timely book about one woman’s harrowing experience adopting a child from Guatemala.” –Shelf Awareness: “daily enlightenment for the book trade”

“A scathing critique on a foreign adoption system and the harrowing account of one woman to fight against it.” – Kirkus Reviews

“[H]arrowing and moving… deftly handled.” –Publishers Weekly


Publishers Weekly calls MAMALITA “harrowing,” “moving,” and “deftly handled”

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

This morning, my agent, Jenni Ferrari-Adler of Brick House Literary, and my publicist at Seal Press, Eva Zimmerman, sent me the fabulous news that Publishers Weekly reviewed Mamalita in its current issue, and called it “harrowing,” “moving,” and “deftly handled.” Thank you for sharing, Jenni and Eva. You made my day!

For information on how to order your own copy of Mamalita, click on the “BOOK” tab above. Publication date remains November 1, although some suppliers are delivering early.

You can read the full Publishers Weekly review here:

Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir
Jessica O’Dwyer, Seal, $16.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-58005-334-1
O’Dwyer’s harrowing and moving journey to adopt a Guatemalan baby offers a look into one person’s experience in the frustratingly convoluted process of adopting from unscrupulous “facilitators.” O’Dwyer had gone through an early divorce and menopause at age 32 before marrying Tim, a divorced dermatologist over 50. They put together an adoption dossier and found an L.A. agency that promised a quick adoption while cutting the bureaucratic red tape. Intent on adopting a certain “Stefany Mishell” (they fell in love with from her online photo), the desperate couple soon discovered that the agency’s methods were dilatory and sloppy, neglecting the important legal paperwork, such as filing the requisite DNA test, and using shady notarios (private attorneys), so that in the end the promised six-month adoption extended over a year. Moreover, O’Dwyer’s occasional visits to Guatemala, where she met Stefany’s foster family and spent a weekend with the baby at the Camino Real hotel in Guatemala City, turned into a permanent residency, as she moved to a city north of the capital, Antiqua, to live with Stefany (now Olivia) until family court finalized the adoption. Dealing with the greedy foster family, managing the baby’s early separation anxiety, navigating the middlemen and interminable waiting are all deftly handled in O’Dwyer’s somber tale. (Nov.)