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Between Light and Shadow: A Guatemalan Girl's Journey through Adoption Hardcover – April 1, 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"An enlightening and balanced account of the complicated Guatemalan adoption story." —Deborah Donovan, Booklist
(Booklist)

"Jacob Wheeler has written a book that should be an eye-opener for any American couple seeking to adopt in that country."—Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli, Northern Express
(Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli Northern Express)

"Wheeler's research on Guatemalan adoption in general and Ellie's situation in particular is both fascinating and prodigious. . . . [Between Light and Shadow is] a can't-it-put-down book for any family touched by international adoption."—Lynette Lamb, Minneapolis Star Tribune
(Lynette Lamb Minneapolis Star Tribune 2011-05-21)

"Jacob Wheeler's choices as a writer make this book both an important document and a suspenseful tale of two families. His choices as a human being make this a story with a soul."—Anne-Marie Oomen, Glen Arbor Sun
(Anne-Marie Oomen Glen Arbor Sun 2011-08-08)

“Jacob Wheeler has written a rare masterpiece of heartbreak, discovery, and adventure, in that Between Light and Shadow is a rare work of compassion, clarity, truth-telling, and above all, humanity. This is the human drama writ large: Who am I? What am I? asked by children whose imploring voices Wheeler captures pitch-perfectly. I can’t imagine a more searing and dramatically told account of youth and parenthood. This is a wonderful, emotionally satisfying book, told masterfully.”—Doug Stanton, author of New York Times bestsellers In Harm’s Way and Horse Soldiers
(Doug Stanton 2010-10-01)

“Jacob Wheeler brings some desperately needed clarity to the socially complex, morally and legally confusing issue of U.S. adoptions from Guatemala.  He has done the legwork, shown commitment and courage, and the reporting in this book is diligent, heartfelt, and thoughtful.”—Francisco Goldman, author of New York Times Notable The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop? and The Long Night of White Chickens.
(Francisco Goldman 2010-10-01)

About the Author

Jacob Wheeler is a freelance journalist, editor at TheUptake.org, and publisher of the Glen Arbor Sun (Michigan). His writings have appeared in In These Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications. Kevin Kreutner is the father of two children from Guatemala and the chief writer for the popular GuatAdopt.com website.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press (April 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803233620
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803233621
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,322,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Between Light and Shadow is a poignant journey through Guatemala's landscape, international adoption and the effect adoption has had on its people. The focus of the story is a beautiful 14 year old girl named Ellie who was adopted by a family from Michigan when she was seven.

Wheeler is a journalist who follows 14 year old Ellie and her family as they make the decision to reunite with Ellie's birth mother and her siblings in Guatemala. Ellie was given up by her mother, Antonia, when she was seven years old and she has vivid memories of love and loss. The last time she saw her brothers, they were chasing after the car she was riding in, Ellie turned to wave goodbye, tears steaming down her cheeks, not knowing if she would ever see them again.

Her adoptive parents, Judy and Bob, make a daring decision, against everyone's advice, to try and find Ellie's family. Wheeler is there to support, guide and record the process. Wheeler is a veteran journalist who speaks fluent Spanish and lived in Guatemala for several years. His book Between Light and Shadow evolved from a journalistic look into international adoption to a very personal story between two families, one American and one Guatemalan, who share the love on one very special girl.

Currently, adoption in Guatemala is no longer possible. Wheeler takes a deep look at the Guatemalan adoption economy and explores all the possible aspects of a system that had good intentions and made a lot of U.S. families complete. He delves into Guatemalan's violent and racist past to discover that extreme poverty has manipulated the adoption process. We have all heard the horror stories of babies being sold and stolen and Wheeler investigates these claims and more.

Ellie's personal story intrigued me.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very well written book. I thought it was very unbiased while exposing some of the issues with the "adoption industry.". It was a very emotional read but one I plan on saving for my daughter when she is older.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Met the young lady who was the adoptee in the story and it really helped me to understand a situation about which I was totally unaware. Well written and enjoyable read.
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Format: Hardcover
I did not find this a thoughtful or balanced account. In fact, the author seems to identify very strongly with the American adopted family, in spite of the fact that the plight of the adopted daughter involves a disturbing case of corruption. The biological mother was coerced over a period of time and promised a sum of money for her daughter. She eventually succumbed to the pressure, gave her daughter up for adoption, but then shortly after unsuccessfully tried to reclaim her. Neither the author nor the adopted family seem to recognize that this constitutes a case of child trafficking and neither even consider what an appropriate and ethical response might be once they learn this truth. The book is also quite disturbing in that the author does not hesitate to reveal highly personal and sensitive information about the biological family, yet gives a great deal of respect to the privacy of the adopted family. Thus, the book goes on at some length about how the biological mother had for a time worked as a sex worker, implying that that in itself made the mother "unfit." The adopted mother even considers it her prerogative to question the biological mother about this when they meet. Of course we learn nothing of the adopted mother's sexual behaviors or practices. The book also refers repeatedly to the biological father's drinking behaviors, again, leaving the adopted family's drinking practices unexamined. The author seems to agree with the adopted family, that simply by virtue of the material and educational benefits they can provide for the child, they are "better" parents and any ethical issues involved in this particular case are far outweighed by these benefits.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
This is a very complex subject and I think the author of this book made a good attempt to research it in a professional, journalistic manner. However, I do not know why he chose to give the impression that he was doing something unusual/unprecedented by attempting to track down the biological parents of this adopted child. Many, many adoptive parents of Guatemalan children have hired the services of professional searchers in Guatemala to locate their children's birth families and maintain ongoing contact with these families. As the author seemed to have interviewed many people involved in Guatemalan adoptions, he should have been aware of this and should have at least sought the advice of one of these experienced searchers when approaching the birth family of this child rather than going it alone. Maybe he felt that this would not have made such a good story, which is a shame. I did not feel he used sufficient discretion or give sufficient thought to protecting the birth mother/concealing her identity. He did not know anything about the birth family or the birth mother's situation. He did not know who knew about the adoption apart from the birth mother. He could easily have put the birth mother in a dangerous or difficult situation.
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Between Light and Shadow: A Guatemalan Girl's Journey through Adoption
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