Growing Up in Other People's Houses
By Paula McLain
Back Bay Books, Paperback, 9780316909099, 260pp.
Publication Date: September 21, 2007
In the tradition of Jo Ann Beard's Boys of My Youth, and Mary Karr'sThe Liar's Club, Paula McLain has written a powerful and haunting memoir about the years she and her two sisters spent as foster children. In the early 70s, after being abandoned by both parents, the girls were made wards of the Fresno County, California court and spent the next 14 years-in a series of adoptive homes. The dislocations, confusions, and odd pleasures of an unrooted life form the basis of a captivating memoir. McLain's beautiful writing and limber voice capture the intense loneliness, sadness, and determination of a young girl both on her own and responsible, with her siblings, for staying together as a family.
"What makes LIKE FAMILY so remarkable are not the peculiar circumstances of Paula McLain's childhood but the depth of understanding that she brings to those circumstances, and the beautiful prose in which she renders that understanding. Seldom have I seen so vividly evoked the need to belong to some, any, kind of family and the painful negotiations that time brings to even our closest intimacies."
"Ms. McLain's close observation of the sisters' perils jumps with life and wry merriment. They take their pleasures and their sorrows as they arrive; even their times of desolation are narrated in language that conveys a kind of ragged glory-the tattered flag of their kinship still waves!"