Forever Lily by Beth Nonte Russell

From Publishers Weekly
Russell was asked by a friend, Alex, to accompany her to China to help her pick up the baby she and her husband were adopting. While parents usually make the trip together, Alex's husband had to stay home to care for another child. Russell didn't know Alex all that well, but agreed to go anyway. In this offbeat memoir, Russell describes the trip. It wasn't long into it before she noticed signs of Alex's ambivalence— she'd brought no camera to document the baby's adoption, and she'd refused to spend more time in China than was absolutely necessary. Meanwhile, Russell was having heavily symbolic dreams: she was an empress of China pregnant with an illegitimate child who had to be given away for adoption. Before long, Alex confessed that she didn't want this baby after all, and Russell fell in love with the baby herself. In the end, Russell brought home the baby she felt she was meant to have. The foreshadowing's heavy-handed, the dreams perhaps too prescient and some apparitions—the Virgin Mary, no less— strain credulity. But spiritual-minded readers might embrace the concept of linking reincarnation, adoption and fate. (Mar.)

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My Review: I can't say I "really enjoyed this book" or that it was particularly pleasant--not because of the writing or the style, but because it was difficult. The content, much like that in Somaly Mam's The Road of Lost Innocence, breaks your heart. Not only does Alex not want the baby she worked so hard to gain, but the conditions in the Chinese orphanages--and throughout most of Russell's travels through China--are blistering illustrations of the oppression we Westerners gleefully ignore.

Russell's dream sequences did take me out of the story -- and it was easy to skim those portions because they were, for the most part, recapped when the present-day sequences began. Although I believe dreams to be powerful and important for many people, I found the Buddhism presented in the present narrative much more informative, as part of my desire to read the book was to learn a little more about personal experience.

In all, it was a solid read, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to read and review Forever Lily.

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