(But first, a little background and some words about another book): When it first came out, I read The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell. In it, he defines three categories of people, and I saw myself heavily represented in each.
Mavens are the information specialists that often start ‘word of mouth’ epidemics due to their knowledge and skills. Salesmen are the persuaders, while not necessarily IN sales they are influential and persuasive by personality.
While I certainly CAN sell and DO like to collect random pieces of research for cocktail party talk, I see myself, in Gladwell’s terms, as a connector. I can’t help it and it isn’t always a blessing. (Thanks Wikipedia for jump-starting my memory and the references).
My friend Marianne, an underwater archeologist with a PhD, put it most succinctly when she said “No offense, Jaye, but you love everything.” I mention her credentials because I am proud of her, and because she didn’t just dole out this comment haphazardly. A writer who blends memoir with just the right touch of poignancy, Mare has known me for decades. She said “no offense” because she knew I might be sensitive to her comment. It isn’t at all that I love everything, but if I don’t love it, I surely know someone who will! I enjoy making those connections between folks.
I have to tell you about The Perpetual Child, Dismantling the Stereotype. I picked up this book before my recent vacation and I could not put it down! On on the crowded adoptee-collector bookshelf, this book fills a major gap.
I always felt somewhat like a perpetual child myself. I thought it was because I was so sensitive (don’t bring her to the funeral-she’ll only cry though the whole thing). I thought it was because I was, chronologically, the baby of the family. “Oh by the way, mommy had a mastectomy yesterday. She didn’t tell you because she didn’t want you to feel upset.”
Oh yeah, when our mother had a mastectomy, my sister sat me down and poured some wine. I don’t drink wine, but for some reason I knew I should be imbibing on something. Instead of feeling upset that my mother had breast cancer, I immediately felt my face get hot with anger that nobody told me, that I couldn’t be supportive leading up to her surgery, that I couldn’t be praying for her. Blend all that with a sense of relief that along with asthma, poor vision and a plethora of other nuisances, I didn’t have the “bad genes” associated with cancer. (When my brain cancer was diagnosed, years later, the joke was not lost on me).
My heart was racing when I read the story by Karen Pickell about taking her letter to her original mother to the post office.
“The neurons under my skin are shooting sparks.”
With an economy of language, Pickell creates a moment in time that is simultaneously singular and universal for many of us, that moment when the individual decides to take the first step at reunion (or perpetually decides not to take it, in itself a decision to perpetually make decisions).
An essay by Matthew Salesses stood out for me not only by what it said regarding adoption but what it said about bullying/adoption. I started out blogging, unintentionally, by writing about the bullies on the bus. Again, I thought it was my over-sensitivity and my desire to prevent anyone from having negative feelings (or perhaps, any feelings at all) that made me a (bulled) target.
I enjoyed this book for the variety of stories it contained, many by familiar authors. If you are looking for something a little different, at times academic, always warm and thought-provoking as it is thoughtful, you will not go wrong with this book. Yes, to paraphrase Marianne, I do like a lot of stuff. If you have read all the standard adoption fare, I would seriously consider adding this to your collection.
You might also like these book-related comments by Luanne at Don’t We Look Alike.