Somebody Else’s Daughter ended up being a compelling read, even if nothing much happened until the last 100 pages or so of the book. At first, it did seem like the author was bombarding me with characters and issues (feminism, adoption, AIDS and pornography, to name a few), but they do all pretty much tie together at the end.
This is a great example of a character driven novel. Although the back cover may lead you to believe this is the story of Nate and Cat and the daughter they gave up for adoption 17 years ago, it is really the stories of many different people living in one small, affluent community in the Berkshires. And everyone seems to have secrets. There’s Nate, now a teacher. And his biological daughter Willa. And Willa’s parents, Joe and Candace Golding. And Jack Heath, the headmaster of a private school. And his family. And Claire, who is a sculptor and single mom. And her son. And Pearl, the local prostitute. And a few others.
Despite the fact that not much happens for a very long time, this is still an engaging read, mostly because the characters are interesting…and I wanted to know what happens to them. The more I read the more layers I discovered there were to people. Brundage throws in a few twists, although I will say I thought the end was pretty predictable.
The one thing that did disappoint me was the stereotypical development of the student characters. The kids all go to a private school and it seemed like most of the clichéd student issues were thrown in. Not that I’m saying these things don’t happen, and that kids don’t experiment, but was it really necessary to include smoking, drinking, pot, Ecstasy, meth, bulimia, midnight cemetery jaunts, teenage angst, tattoos and dyslexia? After awhile I was wondering what else the poor kids were going to be subjected to.
However, despite the flaws of too many people and issues, it was still entertaining. And Claire’s feminist stance (and arguments with Joe) make this a candidate for the Women Unbound Reading Challenge. Not a strong candidate, but I’m still counting it.