Ithaka: A Daughter's Memoir of Being Found Paperback – October 12, 1999
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--The New York Times Book Review
"Ithaka never loses momentum. Compelling, honest, and forthright, it is a beautifully written and spellbinding book. I couldn't put it down."
--Hope Edelman, author of Motherless Daughters
"This fascinating story of Sarah Saffian's psychic journey to a home she never knew tells much about the complexities of adoption. Even those who've thought deeply about the issue are likely to be surprised and engrossed by her tale."
--Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha
"A joy to read."
"There is love and laughter in Sarah Saffian's Ithaka, which almost overwhelms the heart of man and of woman. When I finished it, I wiped the furtive tear, sighed, smiled, and was glad to have read it."
--Malachy McCourt, author of A Monk Swimming
"[An] unsparingly honest memoir...intriguing insights into the nature of family, of loyalty, of inheritance, of what we're born with and what we're given along the way by those who love us most."
--Francine Prose, Elle
From the Inside Flap
The phone call, wholly unexpected, instantly turned Sarah Saffian's world upside-down, threatening her sense of family, identity, self. Adopted as an infant twenty-three years before, living happily in New York, Sarah had been "found" by her biological parents despite her reluctance to embrace them.
In this searing, lyrical memoir, Sarah chronicles her painful journey from confusion and anger to acceptance and, finally, reunion--but not until three soul-searching years had passed. In spare, luminous prose, Sarah Saffian crafts a powerful story of self-discovery and belonging--a deeply personal memoir told with grace, eloquence, and compassion. At once heartbreaking and profoundly uplifting, Ithaka is sure to touch anyone who has grappled with who they are.
- Paperback : 324 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0385334516
- ISBN-13 : 978-0385334518
- Item Weight : 15.2 ounces
- Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.75 x 8.5 inches
- Publisher : Delta (October 12, 1999)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #770,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Though my daughter and I have not renewed our relationship, this book, more than any other (so far) has helped me understand somewhat of what she was/is going through emotionally. Factors I had not considered that Saffian points out have helped me cope with this "silence".
It is not a perfect book. There are questions that remain: why did it take Saffian so long to have a face-face meeting; did the reunion last (are they still reunited); etc.
Though I am unlike Sarah's "other" parents, the book is helpful in that it also shows what they are going through (via personal letters and phone calls) and glimpses into her parents' feelings as well.
All in all, a good read that will help all in the adoption triad struggling the initial phases of contact. I wish I had known of the book sooner.
While technically a story about Ms. Saffian, ITHAKA also provides a thought provoking look at some much broader themes and is well worth the read.
I am also an adoptee, adopted through the same agency as Saffian. I was also raised in Manhattan by a well-to-do family. I have had access to my birth father's whereabouts for several months but haven't felt right about contacting him yet. It may take me three years to write the letter or make the phone call. But if it does, so be it. There is nothing wrong with waiting until I feel ready, just as there was nothing wrong with her going through her process.
"Itaka" is a beautifully written book about the range of emotions Saffian went through before, during and after her reunion. In my opinion, it's a must read for for all members of the adoption triad.
Other reviewers have criticized the author's seemingly selfish reaction to her birthparents reaching out to her; I have to give her credit for honesty about reactions that don't show her in the best light. But to be frank, her personal journey just isn't interesting enough to sustain the average reader for more than a few chapters. While she plumbs her feelings endlessly and repetitiously, going so far as to enter therapy, she seems to be lacking the self-awareness to make it a worthwhile read. There's a lot of drama-queen there, but not much personality.
A far better book by adoptees is "Identical Strangers" by Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein published this year. Perhaps I'd be more sympathetic to Sarah Saffian if I weren't comparing her voice to those of Bernstein and Shein, two eloquent writers who went through far more, and yet write about their experiences beautifully and without a drop of self-pity.