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A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life

Review

A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life

Simone's life is right on track. She has cool, supportive, laid-back parents, she gets along great with her younger brother, she has a small group of close friends, and she's doing well in school. Her guidance counselor tells Simone that she needs to get more involved in extracurricular activities, so she joins the Atheist Student Alliance and the school paper --- which also happens to have a really cute photographer. Sure, Simone worries about her best friend, who's involved with a real jerk, and about her own prospects with guys. But all in all, Simone is pretty happy with how her junior year is going.

Then, something happens that sends Simone's life veering off in a totally new and unexpected direction. Simone has always known that she was adopted --- her parents have never kept it a secret, and they've stayed in contact with Simone's birth mother, Rivka, her whole life. But now, out of the blue, Rivka wants to meet Simone, and soon. Instantly, Simone's life is turned upside down. Why does Rivka need to meet Simone now? Doesn't she know that Simone has enough to deal with? What if she's not ready to meet her birth mother?

After talking to another adopted student, Simone makes a leap of faith and contacts Rivka. Their reunion is not always easy, and Rivka's complicated family history (she comes from a Hasidic Jewish background) causes Simone to question her own atheism. Nevertheless, Simone's rich and intense encounters with Rivka cause her to reflect deeply on the meaning and importance of family. When Simone discovers the reasons behind Rivka's urgent need to meet her daughter, Simone must also learn how to lose this precious gift she's only just discovered.

A BRIEF CHAPTER IN MY IMPOSSIBLE LIFE is Dana Reinhardt's first novel. Her project is ambitious, and the book is packed full of storylines and characters. Just when it seems like the novel is trying to accomplish too much, though, it opens up with quiet, reflective moments and surprising revelations about such topics as faith, family heritage, and grief. Despite its serious subject matter, it also manages to be genuinely funny. The first-person narrative is sometimes wise, sometimes snarky, sometimes vulnerable, but always observant and honest. Simone is a quirky, likable character, and her faults will only endear her to readers, who will be eager to hear more from this talented new author.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on February 14, 2006

A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life
by Dana Reinhardt

  • Publication Date: February 14, 2006
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
  • ISBN-10: 0385746989
  • ISBN-13: 9780385746984