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Postcards from Cookie: A Memoir of Motherhood, Miracles, and a Whole Lot of Mail Hardcover – April 15, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (April 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062103172
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062103178
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #210,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* When Clarke visited Spence-Chapin Family Services, which handled her adoption, she was looking for information that could help answer questions about health concerns. She’d had a happy childhood as the adopted only child of educators, both of West Indian heritage with strong ties to their large families. But when the social worker offered her a thick file, Clarke found herself sifting through detail that suggested that she might actually know the family of her birth mother; in fact, a friend of hers could be a blood relative. Her investigation uncovered the stunning truth, that her mother was Carole “Cookie” Cole, adopted daughter of Nat King Cole, who gave birth to Clarke shortly after the singer’s death. What followed was a flood of bicoastal phone calls, e-mails, letters, and postcards as Clarke, an editor at Black Enterprise, reached out to her birth mother in L.A. Respectful of Clarke’s relationship with her adoptive parents but aching to close a gap of 37 years, the two women poured themselves into constant correspondence and struggled daily to restructure their lives, blend their families, and get past the family intrigues behind their separation. This is a loving, sometimes fractious account of the enduring power of family love. --Vanessa Bush

Review

“A moving account of a woman who finally finds out who she is.” (New York Times Book Review)

“A sensitive memoir of identity and self-discovery. . . . Splendid, soul-baring.” (Publishers Weekly)

“A loving . . . account of the enduring power of family love.” (Booklist (starred review))

“The exchange of postcards, phone calls and emails between mother and daughter are moving, and Clarke’s capacity for forgiveness is real.” (Juicy)

“Caroline Clarke has written more than a memoir. Postcards from Cookie is an iconic portrait of a singular American family -- complete with celebrity and wealth, secrets and lies, heart pounding loss and hard-earned, often uneasy, love.” (Veronica Chambers, author of Mama's Girl)

“I’m excited to add Postcards from Cookie to the bookshelves at my restaurant, the Red Rooster. This stunning memoir is so emblematic of the love and joy I see in our patrons every day; a never-ending story about family, friendship, love and history.” (Marcus Samuelsson, co-owner of the Red Rooster in Harlem and award-winning author of Yes, Chef)

“Clarke’s prose is elegant, crisp and deeply personal, and her narration is gripping. . . . Clarke effectively explores her crisis of identity by peeling back layer after layer of a complex, riveting personal history. . . . A captivating memoir.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“No, seriously - you’re going to want to read this book because Postcards from Cookie will send you away satisfied.” (Long Island Pulse)

“Their journey of reunion is captured with sensitivity, as Caroline describes all the anxieties (including those of her adopted parents) in this touching diary which reveals the joys and sorrows of adoption.” (Iron Mountain Daily News)

“Downright riveting. . . . Read it.” (Ebony)

“A ‘must read’ novel-like memoir.” (Black Enterprise)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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A beautiful story!
feemeister
A very moving tribute to her birth mother and adoptive parents as well.
boxwood100
This book is so well written.
Lilac Peony

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Trudie Barreras TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 28, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In describing this memoir, I am impelled to use an adjective I seldom use...EXQUISITE! Indeed, Caroline Clarke's work is absolutely pitch-perfect in every sense. It is vividly descriptive both of the external and internal landscapes in a situation that could easily have been over-played, but is instead brilliant in honesty and sensitivity.

As I have mentioned on several occasions, my reading choices increasingly gravitate towards biographies and memoirs. And I never cease to be both delighted and amazed by the universality of experience that I perceive as I encounter the narratives of other lives, especially those that would seem to be vastly different in context from my own. Although I have tended to avoid "celebrity" stories, somehow I felt that this account of the way in which the granddaughter of Nat King Cole reconnected with her birth mother in that illustrious family would be worth making an exception. How very right I was!

I have to admit to several very personal connections with this book, however, beginning with the author's surname - Clarke spelled with an "e" - which is not the common spelling but was my mother's maiden name, and we always made a point of that. Then there is the fact that Caroline's adoption occurred during the time when much was made of "secret" and "sealed" - the exact same era in which we adopted our own youngest child. Much emphasis is placed on the fact that Caroline's adoptive parents were also African American.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By G.I Gurdjieff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Despite a seemingly innocuous title, this is an incredible account of how black journalist Caroline Clarke found a part of herself when she initiated a search for her genetic medical history and in the process got a lot more than she bargained for. Shocking, strange, heartfelt, revealing, are just some of the words that come to mind when I think about Postcards fom Cookie.
Caroline had been adopted soon after her birth by a wonderful couple. She was happy with the life she had and had no desire to look for her birth parents. The issue of her genetic background was only considered when she began to experience some medical problems. Nothing serious really, but it was enough to make a visit to the adoption agency that handled her adoption. She wanted medical information and nothing else. What she got was something way more. It was a profile of her birth family. No naming names, but in this particular case Caroline didn't actually need the web because the family in question was very high profile and she actually knew one member fairly well and had met other family members.
As Clarke's story unraveled, questions were answered that sounded so incongruous that they were hard to believe. Despite Clarke's calm eloquence in telling this story, it was shocking to me. Since I am one of those type of people who have always believed that the truth presents itself in strange and unbelievable ways, this story absolutely fascinated me. The manner in which Clarke told it was riveting and absolutely had me. Clarke's birth mother was Nat King Cole's oldest daughter Carol aka Cookie Cole and a tragic set of circumstances led to Caroline Clarke's adoption. However, finding Cookie Cole was just the beginning of this story.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By marcus on April 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I saw Caroline Clarke read from Postcards from Cookie and bought a signed copy. Went home and like they say, stayed up
all night reading. This is a beautiful book about motherhood, quest for identity and answered prayers. The author is
an outstandingly beautiful woman and she writes like an angel.

Mary Marcus, Los Angeles CA
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Quickbeam VINE VOICE on April 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is fascinating in that it covers so much terrain in one memoir: class, race, culture and what constitutes family. Caroline Clarke's account of how she found her birth mother is moving and heartwarming. As she incorporates into the family of beloved singer Nat King Cole, she find out about their lives and peculiarities as she examines her own.

Unique to this book is that everyone in it is an upper class, high income earner. It is a fascinating glimpse into life as a very affluent African American family in the 1960's. The author herself is well educated and nicely positioned in the world within her husband's family business. The memoir is free of any concerns about costs or budgetary restraints. That gives this book a dreamy "wow" factor.

As riveting as this book is, I found myself impatient with the author regarding her expectations of her birth mother Cookie. There is a lot of judgement kicked around in chapters about Cookie not flying or not coming to Caroline's 40th birthday party. While these may have been honest these observations came across as spoiled and petty. So few adoptee searches end this well that it seemed sad to focus only on the down side. These seemed like "high class worries".

I enjoyed the book; the feel and tone of the narrative is very polished and unique. It is a wonderful story and well told. I do recommend this book and am so pleased to have read it.
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