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Book Review—Girls in Trouble by Caroline Leavitt

So much is written about adoption, but little of it is non-fiction. And the fictional books about adoption tend to be romanticized orphan tales—think Anne of Green Gables. This is unfortunate, because often times a good story is easier to remember than absorb than merely facts.

The novel Girls in Trouble steps into the gap and weaves an intricate story about open adoption that succeeds in portraying the emotions of one set of birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptee. Ms. Leavitt narrates the book from the stand point of sixteen-year-old Sara, “older” adoptive mom Eva, and eventually a teenage Anne, the adoptee. Along the way, readers catch a glimpse of the feelings and actions of others involved, like Sara’s parents, adoptive dad George, and birth father Danny. 

Overall, this is a great read for any fiction reader with an interest in adoption. There are limits to the story, of course. To move the story along there must be tension and drama. To that end, Ms. Leavitt creates situations that are the nightmares of both adoptive and birth parents.

The book was published in 2004, before the takeover of smart phones and social media so prevalent in our culture. This is also an interesting challenge for the timeline of the story, as the story should be opening in approximately 1988, long before open adoption was widely practiced. This could explain why no one in this story was really prepared for an open relationship. 

This is definitely worth the read. If you take the journey, think about with whom you most sympathize. What would you have done differently in that person’s shoes? Does this story give insight into a different perspective? Is there a part of the grieving process that especially rings true?

Diane would love to hear your thoughts if you would like to share them. Send them to

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