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on September 7, 2017
This is an amazingly compelling book, not necessarily "literature" but nevertheless a riveting story. There are so many cultural issues raised: From the treatment of orphans by the Irish Catholic Church in the middle of the 20th Century to the treatment of the AIDS epidemic by the Republucan Party in the 1980's. Many very emotional and personal events take place, and they are all revealed with sensitivitity. Please don't think that if you have seen the movie you know the story. The book is almost entirely about the boy and his journey in life. This story made me laugh, cry, become angry, and thoughtful.
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on October 25, 2016
I read this book after first reading "The Girls Who Went Away". I grew up in this era, where unwed girls went to convents to have their children. No one ever spoke of how they were treated or how hard it was to give up their child. In most cases, no one ever knew they had a child.I was captivated by this story and could hardly put it down. I loved the relationship between the two children. It was a very sad story, but one that needed to be told.
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on December 2, 2015
That Philomena's story is true makes it more heart retching. We cannot properly evaluate the events of 60 years ago using today's frames of reference. However, to separate a child from his/her mother must always remain as a last resort; if it is for the child's benefit. The story touched me more so than others who did not live within 15 miles of where Michael's adult life took place. No, I never met Michael and our paths would not have intersected as we travelled in circles on different professional planes. And, some of Michael's life style events are familiar. The movie taken from this book is good. However, it could not show the depth of Philomena's pain and loss. She does have a blessing that other young women in here situation may never have - Philomena is able to visit Michael's final resting place and knows some of his life's experiences.
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I just finished reading the 18 reader reviews of "The Lost Child of Philomena", before writing my own review of the book. And I can't figure out if everybody reviewing this book read the same book. About half of the reviewers referred to the book as mostly about Philomena, an Irish "Magdalene", torn apart from her child after raising him for three years in a home for unwed mothers in Ireland. The others appeared to have read a different book -and the same one I read - which is mostly about the child, Michael Hess, who was adopted by an American couple in the mid-1950's. The story is mostly about HIS life in the US and his growing up with the angst that adopted children sometimes have about their origins, as well as his coming to terms about his sexuality and life in college and law school and life in Washington DC as an official at the Reagen and HW Bush administrations and then at the Republican National Committee. Only at the end were Martin Sixsmith and Philomena brought back into the story.

Okay, that's not a problem for the purchaser and reader of the book, now retitled "Philomena: A Mother, A Son, and A 50 Year Search", as long as s/he knows in advance that's NOT what the book is about. This book is about 75% about Michael, his life, and his family - which IS very interesting - and about 25% about Irish shaming of young pregnant women, the eventual "selling" of their babies, and Philomena's search for her given-up child. I am going to see the movie, starring Dame Judi Dench this weekend, and I'll bet that the movie is more about Philomena than her child.

I point this out because the movie marketers seem to have taken a book - more about the son - and turned it around and made the movie more about the mother, and then tried to rebrand the book to align with the movie. Either that, or the early reviewers were reading an entirely different book than the rest of us, a book that WAS mostly about the mother and her search.

I also couldn't quite tell if the book was fiction or non-fiction. If it was non-fiction, then a whole lot of people know what they were saying 50 years ago. Sixsmith writes in the afterward that he interviewed a lot of the characters alive at that point, but then he also put characters together and changed some names. All in all, I didn't think the book was particularly well-written. I'm hoping the movie is better.
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on September 10, 2015
I have no idea what book these reviews are from because this book is NOT about a mother's connection to her lost son but a book about the life of a baby ripped from his mother's arms and how he struggled, lived, and died feeling alone and abandoned but never giving up on finding his mother. This book speaks LITTLE of his mother's journey which is totally opposite of what is portrayed in the movie with Judy Dench. This is a compelling story of a man's life, lived as a homosexual in a time when this was thought to be a conscious decision to live a life this way, and the struggle to find his own identity and ultimately face the horrible AIDS epidemic of the times. The book IS NOT about the mother except in the beginning but certainly does not go through the search for her son later. This is no judgement on her or her grief, pain, and struggle about the loss of her son, but the delusion that if you read this book that is what you will find. That is NOT the case. This book is about her son, plain and simple, and it touched me deeply and I actually cried over the life of this man.
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on February 7, 2016
Intrigued by the movie Philomena, I wanted to know more details and delve deeper into the Irish sale of children. What I didn't realize was that Martin Sixsmith also researched the life if Michael Hess, the adopted son. This book is the son's story, not Philomena's. But it is every bit as interesting. Some details are different than the movie, but one always expects that to be a direct result of liberties taken in the screenplay to abreviate a more complicated story.
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It never fails to sadden me what certain aspects of religion can do that hurts and sometimes destroys the life of man. An excellent read, and an education in what religious faith should not do.
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on March 16, 2017
The book is largely about the life of Micheal (Anthony) her son with a short lead in and even shorter ending relating to the mothers search. Don't get me wrong it is an interesting book about a mans struggle with his own being an existing in a world that rejects people like him. If you saw the movie first I think you will be surprised at how little of this book was used to make the movie.
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on December 18, 2016
It is hard to read at times when you realize it is the truth about what happened to these poor girls and their babies. It shows the love that is given and felt by children even though miles away. Very good book but you will shed tears at times.
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on January 31, 2017
Saw the movie and was intrigued so I ordered the book. Much more in depth in regard to Mike. He had an amazing life although sad at times. And his mother certainly didn't get what she should have. Very interesting. I like real life stories and books fill in so much more than movies can. I recommend the book.
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