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Replacement Child: A Memoir Paperback – March 5, 2013
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"By cleverly shifting between recent years and the day of the crash, Mandel weaves together chapters of real and imagined scenes building to the inevitable. . . the book grapples with the random forces that shape modern life."
"Intimately told . . . a well-balanced story of loss and hope."
"A very powerful memoir . . . I definitely recommend picking this one up."
This touching tale of healing and understanding explores the sometimes unconscious expectations of love.”
"Judy Mandel uses the fire from which she was born to forge a brave quest toward truth and understanding."
Tracy Kauffman-Wood, Women's Memoirs
”Replacement Child is a . . . touching story any parent will relate to . . . a memoir that should not be overlooked by parents."
Midwest Book Review
Riveting . . . I couldn't put this book down. Mandel's memoir is as riveting and gut wrenching as any piece of thriller fiction I've read."
Wendy Thomas, Bookpleasures
"This is a wonderful read . . . I did not want to put this book down. It really takes you on a journey of
one person's struggle to examine who they are and where they come from. I highly recommend this book."
The Social Frog
From the Back Cover
Replacement Child opens with the explosion of a plane crash,
the injury of a two-year-old girl and the impossible choice a mother must
make. The death of a child leaves a hole in the family that threatens to tear
In a great act of hope, the parents give birth to a "replacement child," born to
heal wounds and provide a "salve for the burns." The child unwittingly plays
her role throughout childhood, riding the deep and hidden currents of the
family tragedy. Years later, as an adult, she discovers the truth of her family's
life-changing event and the complex layers of her own relationships with her
father, mother, and sister. Not until she finally has a child of her own does
she come to grips with what she silently has known all along: Anything can
happen. Planes fall from the sky.
Praise for Replacement Child
"A very powerful memoir. . . I definitely recommend picking this one up."
"This is a wonderful read. . . I did not want to put
this book down. It really takes you on a journey of
one person's struggle to examine who they are and
where they come from. I highly recommend this
book." The Social Frog
"Judy Mandel uses the fire from which she was
born to forge a brave quest toward truth and
understanding." Women's Memoirs --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Judy believes that she was born as the "replacement child" to fill in for the death of her sister, who remained a ghost-like figure in the memory of the family that surrounded her, but of course Judy as a little girl was not told about the tragedy. Children know what they are not supposed to know as they watch adults sidestep, avoid, or grieve silently. In this memoir of investigation as Judy sorts through letters, newspaper articles, and her own memory, we are engaged in hoping somehow the airplane will miraculously miss its date with death by fire.
The author inserts heart-stopping vignettes of her imagined story of each hour before the plane dives into the apartment, then reconstructs the aftermath from her extensive research. We are gripped in the saga, even though at the beginning we know the outcome, but we don't know the author's resolution of her story until the end.
I couldn't put this book down. It was helpful to find that the chapters were brief, as if it's too hard for the reader to take in the tragedy all at once, as it must have been for the family. Judy Mandel becomes the witness for all her family as she weaves this amazing memoir of life, death, and love.
Written by a child conceived after her oldest sister is tragically burned to death and her middle sister suffers lifelong agonies from burns suffered over 80% of her body, "Replacement Child" is an unsparing look at what it is like to bear the weight of a family's unspeakable grief from something that happened before one's birth. Mandel doggedly assembled every newspaper clipping, photo, diary entry, and scraps of paper left behind by her now-deceased parents to put together this story of unspeakable heartbreak and the human will to go on.
Mandel's surviving sister, Linda, was hideously scarred by the flames from the fuselage of the second crashed plane, which suddenly dropped through her family's apartment roof into their kitchen, spewing deadly and horrendous destruction. Linda spent a lifetime having multiple surgeries, complications, setbacks and triumphs while her younger sister Judy felt guilty for being pretty and having a normal life. Quite a psychological load for anybody to bear, and Mandel writes with clarity and honesty.
What I found harder to read was the account of her present-day life, which she would insert quite jarringly sometimes into her tales of her childhood and the accident itself. Having survived the turbulent sixties and seventies, as did I, Judy Mandel is the survivor of several past marriages and bad mistakes. The good news is that she IS a survivor, and in this book, is now blissfully married with a wonderful young adult son. I am so happy for her, truly, but I could not quite grab on to this part of the book. Her birth to a grieving and broken family and her lifelong struggle to be herself while trying to meet impossible expectations is described so well in the childhood parts of the book--but her ultimate triumph does not read as well, maybe, as I said, because it is inserted throughout the book.
I think it might have been better to have described the accident and her childhood, as she did so very well, and then pen an "Afterward," where she says, "and this is what happened to me since then." Just my opinion, and despite this, "Replacement Child" is well worth reading.