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The Red Thread: A Novel Hardcover – May 3, 2010

75 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In her engaging new tearjerker, Hood (The Knitting Circle) follows several families as they attempt to adopt daughters from China. Holding down the center is Maya Lange, who, as head of the Red Thread Adoption Agency, is the prospective parents' guide through the adoption process. Childless Maya is driven by a desire to make amends for a tragic accident in her past, though her clients have their own share of heartbreak—miscarriages and infertility—and, predictably, the expectations and reservations about parenthood that they confide to Maya are shaped by a host of personal issues. In a nod to Hood's last novel, several women knit to calm their nerves as they await their new daughters. Meanwhile, Maya, also a knitter, takes painful steps toward letting go of the past. The individual arcs are woven together beautifully, though the interspersed tales of how the Chinese children came to be abandoned tend to clutter more than add. Regardless, Hood's sensitive depiction of her characters' hopes and fears makes for a moving story of dedication, forgiveness, and love. (May)
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From Booklist

Hood’s latest engaging novel is a timely exploration of the adoption process, specifically the adoption of Chinese girls by five couples in Providence, Rhode Island, brought together by Maya and her Red Thread Adoption Agency. One by one, Hood introduces each couple: there’s a compulsive investment banker and her consultant husband; a social do-gooder and her immature husband who still pines for an ex-girlfriend; Maya’s friend Emily, who longs for her own daughter, tired of vying with her stepdaughter for her husband’s affection; an ex-baseball player who fears losing his wife’s love and attention to the new adoptee; and a mismatched couple with their own mentally challenged daughter whom the wife struggles to love. Maya is an upbeat ringleader who believes every child is connected by a red thread to those fated to play a part in his or her destiny. Hood intersperses the stories of these diverse couples with the sad stories of five Chinese babies slated for adoption, resulting in part soap opera, part enlightening look at contemporary adoptions, and an altogether entertaining read. --Donna Seaman

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (May 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393070204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393070200
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,152,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ann Hood is the author of the bestselling novels THE RED THREAD, THE KNITTING CIRCLE and SOMEWHERE OFF THE COAST OF MAINE. Her memoir, COMFORT: A JOURNEY THROUGH GRIEF, in which she shares her personal story of losing her 5 year old daughter Grace in 2002, was a New York Times Editor's Choice and named one of the top 10 non-fiction books of 2008. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Jenny H. on June 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Ann Hood's The Red Thread is about Maya, the owner of an adoption agency for parents seeking to adopt girls from China, and the six couples who come to her as the book begins, one of whom is Maya's best friend. It follows them all through the process and the ups and downs that come with it.

I was interested in the premise behind this book, but felt the execution was a bit lacking. The writing is mediocre, but the real flaw is the lack of character development. I couldn't feel a thing for any of them. We learn about Maya's secret from her past and how much pain it causes her, and we see events happening to the other characters, but we never get inside their heads or get a feel for them as real people. They interact with each other and things happen, but they don't seem to have much agency or actual personality. Nell is the type-A personality, Sophie is the idealist, Maya is the secretive one with a heart of gold, etc. It's shocking to think of some of these characters as parents (Emily, Maya's best friend who can't accept the presence of her stepdaughter in her life, and Susannah, a terrible mother to the 6-year-old disabled daughter she feels so ashamed of), and their marriages are clearly a wreck, so it's amazing to me that anyone would let them adopt. The take-home message here seems to be that a healthy baby will fix it all, especially given Maya's counsel to the wives that their reluctant husbands will "come around".

Maya's uncharacterist reactions are cliched; she opens up suddenly to the love interest who has no real personality beyond being nice, a good cook, and somehow head over heels for Maya.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By BeachReader on April 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The desire for a child is a thread that connects so many people and Hood is able to capture this longing so well. She writes from the heart as one who has experienced the loss of a child and the happiness of being able to adopt a baby in China to enrich her family and fill their hearts.

She writes of six couples who are trying to adopt daughters from China, and also writes of the six women in China who are forced to abandon their daughters. This is the red thread of the Hood says "the Chinese legend of the red thread is that our children are connected to us by an invisible red thread. No matter how tangled or frayed it becomes, our child is waiting for us at the other end".

Maya, the adoption specialist whose own loss has kept her from healing and from loving again, is the thread that connects all of these characters. Her inner conflict, hidden from all the people she knows, is a constant struggle which she faces alone.

The book is somber but not dark, and Hood does a wonderful job of exploring the connections between all of the characters. With the current news stories of the adopted boy sent back to Russia, this book will be especially timely.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Tina Says VINE VOICE on May 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Once again Ann Hood has written a book that I love, love, love. A few years ago I read The Knitting Circle by Hood and was instantly raving about it. I have been looking forward to The Red Thread now for a while and am not disappointed this time around, either.
Hood certainly writes what she knows. The Knitting Circle, while a novel, shares one woman's heartbreak after losing her child. She joins a knitting circle, and while this doesn't fix her grief, it does help her see that others have their own trials in life, and eventually she does find a way to go on. Hood's own daughter died unexpectedly in 2002 and her own experiences with the loss of a child helps the emotions in The Knitting Cirlce ring true. She is able to convey in words the enormous loss and grief a child's death creates. Now, in Red Thread Hood writes a novel of adoption. Maya is the director of an adoption agency, matching couples with young girls in China. Throughout the novel the different couples' stories are shared- each having their own reasons for adopting, their own struggles with creating a family, and their own challenges in their marriages. Maya also has a few things to come to terms with. The reason she started the adoption agency is because her own daughter died after a horrible accident in her home, and unable to forgive herself she leaves Hawaii, where she lived, and her husband behind. Maya faces opportunities to allow herself to feel alive again and to share herself with others, yet she must make peace with her past first. Also included are the stories of the different babies that were given up to be adopted and how each came to the adoption agency for placement. Each story was heartbreaking - wanted by their mothers in most cases, yet not considered worth much in their country.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lori on March 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The story was interesting enough to keep me engaged, but too many things bothered me to recommend this book. Mostly, I just can't get past the fact that none of the adopting couples in the book seem like they are going to offer their babies a healthy home, because of their own dysfunctional relationships. I am dismayed that Maya keeps telling the families that a baby will solve everything.

I also had trouble understanding the characters - their motivations and actions (and sometimes, all the sex.) But, I will also say that I enjoyed and appreciated the birth family stories; they did ring much truer to me.
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