BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Famous Adopted People by Alice Stephens [in Booklist]

“Everyone, it seems, is telling our story but us,” observes Lisa Pearl, the Korean-born, Bethesda, Maryland-raised transracial adoptee protagonist in Alice Stephens’ debut novel. The author, who describes herself as being “among the first generation of transnational, interracial adoptees,” takes charge with a tale that will knock your expectations to, well, somewhere surreal yet real.

Step into Villa Umma (Korean for “Mommy”), where Lisa has been kidnapped, no, delivered. She’s had a shattering fight with her BFF, fellow adoptee Mindy, at a Seoul Dunkin’ Donuts about meeting Mindy’s birth mother and absconded to Jeju Island with the MotherFinders representative. Turns out Mindy’s bioparent doesn’t particularly want her, but Lisa’s certainly does – not to reclaim 27 lost years but to further her Machiavellian plans to place Lisa’s half-brother at the helm of a nuclear-power-to-be. Trapped in her biomother’s fickle, brutal, luxurious hideaway with a silent Chinese (minder) servant, Japanese (pedophile) chef, a South African (sycophant) assistant, and a Russian (butcher) doctor, Lisa must somehow survive long enough to escape.

Introducing each chapter with a pixilated propaganda poster overlaid with a quote from “famous adopted people” (Greg Louganis, Debbie Harry, Vincent Chin, and more), Stephens’ darkly comic, sharply irreverent, undeniably wise “Great Adoption Novel” is an unexpectedly timely, not-to-be-missed, epic wild ride.

Review: “Fiction,” Booklist, September 15, 2018

Readers: Adult

Published: 2018


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