Title: The Red Thread
Author: Ann Hood
Enjoyment Rating: 9/10
Source: Purchased new from Amazon
Referral: My godmother Annie recommended it
In my mind, the only true and living church time is 9am. The morning person in me loves getting up and out the door, and I've never understood people who have a hard time getting their families ready to be sitting in the chapel at nine. In our last year at BYU, we lived at Wymount Terrace, which was a very strange experience in many ways, but I loved that we had church at eight o'clock. Eddie loved it because he could be home for the kickoff of every single NFL game, and I loved it because I could read my scriptures, go visiting teaching, write in my journal, and listen to Michael McLean for the rest of the day. Okay, there may have been some of that (except the Michael McLean), but mostly I liked to crawl back into bed and read books for the rest of the day. There were lots of Sundays when I'd start a new book after church and finish it before bed that night.
For me, The Red Thread was a book that reminded me of those simpler Sundays when I didn't have to make dinner for anyone or change sheets on beds or wrestle with the Primary for two hours. I read the entire thing in basically one sitting on Sunday afternoon and Sunday evening. I hesitate to give the book a 9/10 rating, because I think that anyone who isn't in my position as a potential adoptive parent would rate it lower, but I freaking loved this book. I knew that I would like it when I heard about a contemporary novel (my favorite genre) about the adoption process. To be sure, there were things that annoyed me about the book. For example, by my closest approximation, the book took place around 2006, because it became significantly more difficult to adopt healthy Chinese girls after that time, and in this book the families are adopting healthy girls. However, Hood mentions several times that the families are taking pictures with iPhones, and iPhones weren't released until 2007, so one fact or another in the book didn't work for me in terms of chronology of events.
Another quibble is that although it seems that Hood tried to capture a range of situations in which people might choose to adopt, I was surprised at how complicated (maybe even damaged) the relationships in the book seemed, and at how no one in the book had a situation like mine (because it's all about me, you know). Hood's book follows five couples in America, five birth families in China, and Maya, the adoption coordinator who brings them together. All of the couples seem to be adopting because of infertility or genetic disorders in their biological children, and all of them seem conflicted, at best, about their adoption journey (which is actually something I liked) but honestly, it seemed like all five couples were more likely to end up in divorce court than they were to end up waiting for a baby in a Chinese hotel lobby, so the "happy ending" felt a little bit clouded by what could happen with these couples in the future.
Maya, the central character, also has a backstory involving a daughter who died as a baby (incidentally, the author adopted a baby girl in China after her daughter died in the early 2000s), and I did feel moved by her story. I wish that I understood whether or not she came to a resolution with that baby's father (which felt a little sketchy to me, but she really got my heart as a character. I'll freely admit to crying a little bit in the McDonald's playland while I finished up the last few pages at lunch today. I wish this book hadn't been written yet so I could write it. I don't know that it compares exactly with Anne Tyler's Digging to America because the adoption journey drives the plot here a lot more than it does in Tyler's work, but both books left me with a similar sense of hope.