Book Review: A Family Apart

I’ve been reading more this year than I have in a few years and I love it. I’ve always loved it, but sometimes I get stuck in the lull of not knowing what to read next. Not this month. This is a picture of the pile that needs to be read by January 12. Some are for reviews, some are for personal growth, and one is for a book club. Thus far, I’ve read two of the five. My previous post was about The Art of Work, and this one is about A Family Apart. (Someday I’ll get back to talking about other things besides books, but not today.)

If I had to use one word to describe Craig Steffen‘s memoir, that word would be “brave”. His journey to know his family required more perseverance than most people have. It’s at times tedious, at times heart wrenching, at times mysterious, and at times heart warming. I’m sure the readers’ roller coaster of emotions is only a microscopic sampling of what Craig felt along the way.

That’s the story. The writing, on the other hand, was inconsistent. The voice changed, the tone changed, the perspective changed. One chapter would be beautiful prose and the next a genealogical discourse. Some details could be omitted without taking anything away from the readers’ experience. (If you’ve ever been in a conversation in which you wanted to say, “I get the point. What happened next?” to move the story along, you have an idea of what I mean.)

However, the tedious genealogical ramblings and detailed recounting of conversations and correspondence did provide a sense of the perseverance Craig had to show along the way. When I got to the end, I was able to feel some of the relief he must have felt in finding the truth. (No spoilers here!)

If you were ever a foster child or were adopted (or love someone who was), you will relate to Craig’s story. If you’re looking for a memoir as well written as Angela’s Ashes or Night, then this isn’t the book for you.