I expectedly recieved a copy of this title in the mail last week as a result of LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer’s group. I’m exceptionally glad that I recieved this title, because this is a really heartwarming and unique work created by cartoonist Marian Henley.
First Line: One Christmas Eve, I drove to Dallas.
Written as a comic stip, like Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Marian Henley takes us through the emotional rollercoaster ride that engulf the process of adopting an infant from Russia. Henly is in her late 40’s, and unwed, but has been in a long-term relationship for quite some time. She is worried about breaking the news of adopting a boy named Sergey to her family. Despite her concens, her family shows a surprising amount of encouragement and support. Not long after Sergey’s adoption is announced and Marian feels more secure with her decision to go through with the adoption, she finds out that she cannot adopt Sergey afterall. Marian deals with high levels of incompetence with her chosen adoption agency, who bungle Marian’s first attempt at adoption. Not long after, Marian tries again for a young boy named Igor. Throughout these struggles, Marian’s father goes to the hospital for mutiple surgeries and his health seems to be failing each day.
This memoir is a tear-jerker, the blue and white cartoon images relate so much more of the story than a paragraph description could produce. Marian is a brave women for sticking her convictions and following through on her plan to adopt a child from Russia. Despite her tragedies in the process and her tragedies at home, this book provides insipiration for anyone who thinks “it just can’t get worse”, well, even if it does, it will somehow turn around and right itself.
The subtitle “A Family Love Story” captures the essence of this memoir, in that Marian is trying to complete the puzzle to her family through this adoption. She makes unique observations about life and death, youth and age.
FINAL GRADE: A+The Shiniest Jewel – A Family Love Story by Marian Henley Springboard Press, 2008 ISBN 446199311 168 pages ***********************