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Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite
The award-winning Twice a Daughter: A Search for Identity, Family, and Belonging by Julie Ryan McGue is a compelling, poignant memoir about the search for truth and belonging. The premise is right out of a Lifetime movie. The author is a twin who is adopted, but the adoption was closed, meaning that the records are sealed and she can't find the details surrounding her adoption or birth parents. But she desperately needs to know her health history at age forty-eight when dealing with a biopsy. This prompts the twins (her sister's name is Jenny) to find out together. They decide to talk to their adoptive parents, who don't like the idea of them learning of their birth history. Things get a little more complicated when they enlist the help of a search agency, a private investigator, the court system, and a genealogist. What would seem to be a simple process of unearthing records turns into a revelation of secrets and lies, with the truth being closer than they realized.
At some point in our lives, our minds and hearts turn toward our origins: Who are we, where do we come from, what were our ancestors like? Imagine yourself in your late forties, sick, and in need of your medical records, but you don't have access to them due to a closed adoption. What determination and resilience would it take for you and your twin sister to prevail? As you read this awesome journey, you will feel the emotional ebb and flow of the author's story, the emotions experienced by the twins, the disappointments, and the surprise twist. McGue uses dashes of wit to balance the somber notes. And, besides the compelling subject matter, she is a natural storyteller. Being a former social worker, I know how difficult it can be for adult children of adoption to uncover their origins, so this book can serve as a great advocacy tool as well as a thoroughly engaging autobiography. If you like memoirs that can move as well as inform, you have to read Twice a Daughter: A Search for Identity, Family, and Belonging by Julie Ryan McGue.