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My Family, A Symphony: A Memoir of Global Adoption Hardcover – December 7, 2010
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The Amazon Book Review
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From Publishers Weekly
Eske was born in Nebraska in 1983, and in 1989 his parents welcomed from India an infant they named Meredith. Three more siblings followed: Michelle and Jordan from India, and Jamie from Korea. As the family grew, they moved into ever-larger houses ("1,000 for each of us kids"), and Eske's feelings of alienation increased. After completing a master's degree at the London School of Economics, Eske decided to visit his siblings' home countries and the orphanages they lived in, even meeting their original caretakers, during a 23-city journey he viewed as essential to "getting back in with my family again." Throughout, Eske (communications director for Global Action for Children, funded by the Jolie-Pitt Foundation) shares family stories, reflections and observations from his travels, and details the history, joys, and complications of international adoption. The author notes he had to "search the world to understand our miraculous connection that beat evolution," but while his is a heartfelt story, it's not entirely clear if he's come to terms with the events and feelings that led to his feeling disconnected in the first place. (Dec.)
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“An honest exploration of the impact of international adoption on families and children alike.” ―Kirkus Reviews
Top customer reviews
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Well presented, well written and informative. Aaron Eske lived this life, thanks in no small part to his parents, who opened their hearts (and homes) to children from different parts of the world. I would be interested to see what Mr. Eske does next!
I rate Aaron Eske's "My Family, A Symphony:" Five stars! May I suggest you read (and discover) this book for yourself? You won't be sorry! Trust me!
While Mr. Eske's brother and sisters were chosen from around the world before settling in Nebraska, the Eske family dynamic will be familiar to anyone with younger siblings. The book does a fantastic job of realistically portraying the balance of normal family relationships with the often heartrending complications of physical disabilities and emotional trauma from the previous lives of adopted children. Mr. Eske is very aware throughout the book of his privilege and the special circumstances of his family. He also writes with modesty, humbleness, and a sharp sense of humor about himself - seen most clearly in the travel portions of the book. The anecdotes about traveling with friends in India to see both tourist haunts and the orphanage from which three of his siblings were adopted fit together seamlessly while still conveying the jarring contrasts between the expectations of a group of American students and the realities of the country they traveled. Mr. Eske has a knack for words and a special knack for drawing subtle comparisons that pull the reader in - for example, the author's description of the overwhelming atmosphere of monsoon season and the overwhelming emotion when hugged by the woman who ran the orphanage he visited. Dancing to Beyonce in the lobby of an Ethiopian hotel with a hotel worker before visiting that hotel worker's house in the slums of Addis portrays in a few crystallized moments of human interaction the author's earlier musings on globalization as something that, for all of his study, was still mysterious.
In the afterword to this gem of a book, Mr. Eske makes reference to a friend who says that it is quite ridiculous for someone in their twenties to write about themselves, acknowledging with casual self-effacement the unvoiced claims of those who would say that no one so young could offer a significant memoir. Without having picked up this book, I would have thought that yes - a quarter-century memoir would have nothing of substance to offer the casual reader. However, I am very glad that Mr. Eske took it upon himself to document the first two and a half decades of his life and the story of his family. By doing so, he has shed light into the very real struggles and triumphs of creating a family through adoption and giving children in need of a family the love and support they need, no matter where they grow up.
I picked up this book on a Saturday morning and whizzed through it by the afternoon - it is an engaging, poignant, and most of all honest portrait of one man rediscovering the ties that link him with his family and made him the person who he is today. Each story that Mr. Eske tells (the advent of international adoption, the orphanages and countries where these adoptions occur, harried parents raising five children in the Midwest) has its own merit. However when these aspects of international adoption are linked by the author's personal narrative, they become more than the sum of their parts. Mr. Eske's life story may be uncommon, but his narrative is even more extraordinary due to the beautifully mundane aspects of family life he celebrates in this book as a family is created and grows together.
The story will resonate with those who have travelled the same path; others may misunderstand elements because they read it with a limited perspective of one who has not experienced such a reality. And while the story is a celebration of triumph over adversity, it does not have a pretty ending tied up in a bow.
This is a must read for all adoptive parents and anyone interested in global child welfare.
I love the travel writing, and find his stories from time in India, South Korea, and Ethiopia to be so engrossing. I've lived in India, and found his stories lively, and the personal travel experiences charming. It was great fun to read such a honest portrayal of family, especially as the world gets smaller through our families and friends.