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Daughters for a Time Paperback – April 24, 2012
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“A wrenching, resonant debut about infertility, cancer and adoption. Grab your hankies.”
"Equally heartfelt and hopeful, Daughters for a Time is a powerful exploration of what it means to be a mother, a sister, a daughter. Tender and poignant, Handford weaves a captivatingly honest story that will have you smiling and weeping throughout -- often within the same paragraph." --Heather Gudenkauf - New York Times Best-selling Author of The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden"Daughters for a Time is a brutally honest but captivating peek at the powerful hold human connections and the pursuit of motherhood can have on the human spirit….A story filled with the truths of compassion, dedication and losses many of us must face in life... [It] will draw you in and have you rooting for [protagonist] Helen Francis." --Kay Bratt, Author of Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage
About the Author
Jennifer Handford was born in Phoenix, Arizona, where she lived until she moved to Oregon for college and graduate school. After graduation, she moved to Washington, D.C., and has lived in the Virginia/Washington, D.C., area for fifteen years. Jennifer is married and has three daughters. Daughters for a Time was awarded one of three first place prizes in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. It is her first novel.
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Helen, raised by her sister Claudia after her mother died when she was a teenager, is struggling with infertility. Her life feels complete after she adopts a baby girl and reconnects with her estranged father, but then Claudia is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which killed their mother.
I had some trouble connecting with Helen on an emotional level, but I liked and respected her journey from adamantly insisting she couldn't adopt, to falling in love with her daughter. Jennifer Handford's writing style was easily readable and pleasant. She appeared to have researched Chinese adoptions well, which is why I cannot forgive her for having Claudia donate her eggs to Helen, after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. That could never happen. Once you've had cancer, you can't donate anything but blood, and that's only after 10 years out of diagnosis. Manipulating the realities of cancer for melodrama is a slap in the face to cancer survivors and those who have lost a loved one to this very real disease. If not for this I might have given the book 3 stars.
In true Creative writing 101 fashion, Daughters For A Time was contrived, convoluted and generally made me say what.the.eff?! with regularity. Let's break it down: Helen, is a bitter rhymes-with-witch who is infertile. Although we're supposed to sympathize as the author attempts to make her vulnerable, it's a clumsy attempt at best. So naturally, Helen is just bitter and unlikable, so within a few pages, my overall sentiment was, 'Thank god you're not my mom!'
The plot jumps around a lot. What the author failed to understand is that her story would've been better had she taken time to flesh out the characters, their motivations & their back stories. As it is, all the characters are one dimensional at best, and dare I say, utterly unbelievable at worst. It's clear that for all of the issues jam packed in to a few hundred pages, the author hadn't a clue (or didn't care?) about accuracy. As an adopted child, I was actually rather horrified by the sheer amount of factually inaccurate information. I realize it's a novel, but even novelists research before diving in to a book.
I haven't a clue if the author has any experience with adoption, infertility, cancer and estranged family members, but I tend to doubt it. Too cliche, unbelievable, unrealistic... not to mention a little too perfect despite the attempt made to write some drama. If you like your cancer, infertility, adoption, and parent/sibling issues with a dash of puppies, rainbows & wide-eyed naïveté, this is definitely your kind of read. This would be profound reading for elementary readers... but as far as adults are concerned, I can't understand the glowing reviews. Pass on this one.
In the first part of the book I was completely unsympathetic to the main character's feeling sorry for herself. Yes I suppose we all feel that way sometimes but I don't need to read so many chapters describing it in detail. You were sad. We get it. She was just very self absorbed and I guess I don't have alot of patience with that :-)
Just when you think I would give this one star, suprisingly the book did pull me in. The writing was good, and the sections around cancer were very well done. It brought me back to experiences with cancer with my own parents and I had a good cry reading it. Very cathartic!
So in summary I would say, yes read it, bring your kleenex, but if you are interested in Chinese adoption dont' be led astray about the initial process. Much harder than it was portrayed.