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IN BRIEF

April 09, 1995|ERIKA TAYLOR

GIVING AWAY SIMONE: A Memoir by Jan L. Waldron (Times Books: $22; 235 pp.) One doesn't generally think of adopting running in a family like alcoholism or good skin. However, when she was 17, Jan Waldron gave up her daughter, who represented a fifth generation of women abandoned by their mothers. In her memoir, "Giving Away Simone," Waldron explains, with beautiful yet unaffected language, exactly why and how she relinquished her daughter, and what their complicated relationship, begun 11 years later, has brought to her life.

"Later Rebecca said all she wanted was to keep touching this long-awaited, often-imagined fairy birthmother of her dream. . . . We wanted to examine and handle each other, like terrified prey after escaping a predator's ugly chase." "Giving Away Simone" is, for the most part, an extraordinary book. The sections depicting Waldron's childhood, pregnancy and early years of her relationship with Rebecca are filled with life and insight. In addition, the writing is often stunning. The problem, and this does not detract greatly from the overall effect of the book, is in the letters Waldron includes between herself and her birth daughter. Somehow, the information feels so specific to the labyrinthine nature of their relationship that it becomes claustrophobic and less compelling. In spite of this, though, "Giving Away Simone," is a valuable book.

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