Monday, April 29, 2013

Secret Storms, by Julie Mannix von Zerneck and Kathy Hatfield

I accepted Secret Storms: A Mother and Daughter, Lost then Found for review because it is a story of adoption. My second-born is adopted from South Korea and although his birth mother is on an different continent, the possibility does exist that she will want to find him someday and/or that he will want to find her. I think that's only natural and we're not opposed to this happening at some point in time. (We would plan to help him when and if he ever feels the desire to locate her.) I always want him to know that he is fully loved here, so much so that he should feel the freedom to be able to seek out his birth mother if he desires it. I think I probably would want to find my birth mother were I adopted, so I do not begrudge this of him.

I was curious to read Secret Storms because it is a story written by a birth mom and the daughter that she put up for adoption. The story reveals how the mother (Julie) came to be pregnant and gave up her daughter to another family to raise. It also tells the story of the daughter (Kathy) who was adopted by loving parents and who didn't discover that she was adopted until she was in her teens. (What a time to find out, right!?)

As my regular readers around here are very well aware, I don't often research books before reading them. I like being surprised by books when I crack open the covers. I'm aware of the premise of the book only when I begin reading. I didn't know who Julie Mannix was although I'm sure any number of you do. She was an actress who appeared mostly in television in the late 60's and then 70's. She had a role in General Hospital which gave her a great deal of visibility. Julie is married to producer Frank von Zerneck (who is indeed Kathy's biological father). More interestingly (to me!) she is the daughter of Daniel P. Mannix who wrote the book The Fox and the Hound which the Disney film was based on. (Also, if I can ever find a decently priced copy of The Fox and the Hound to read, I will be very happy.)

Julie spent 46 years wanting to know what had happened to her's and Frank's first born, the little girl who she had named Aimee. Secret Storms is divided into parts and each part alternates between Julie and Kathy as they reveal their own life histories and the events which led up to their being re-united with one another. It's a powerful story of faithful love, constant hope and redemption and I loved reading it. Every bit of it. Kathy's life wasn't as idealistic as Julie would have hoped for and preferred but Kathy verbalizes no complaints. Although she didn't grow up in a whole or always healthy family situation, she says her past is her own and gives her history and she has no regrets. That's a beautiful thing to say when one has been disappointed in parts. Julie wants to be a part of her eldest daughter's life but she is wise enough to know that she must take things slow and build trust. Kathy welcomes Julie's entrance into her world while respecting her adopted parents. The story is really quite beautiful.

Now, not every birth family reconnection story is a pretty one and both Julie and Kathy acknowledge that. They aren't saying, "This is what adoption should look like in the end." They are merely saying, "This is our story and we have taken joy in it." This I can accept. They do not ignore the trials they have faced but instead they tell the reader what events drove them apart for decades and what events brought them back together in a way that expresses the fact that they do not take their relationship for granted. They know that their history is special and unique and they will delight in it in all the ways that they can. I think that's really beautiful and admirable.

It should be noted that there is some language involved in the book. It's always in relation to quoting other people. They do not drop foul language for themselves but did see fit to include that of others. I don't know that I necessarily appreciate that but I didn't find it a turn off, given the individuals who they were quoting. I do want to note that though for anyone who is skittish about foul language. It exists, but it is minimal.

Personally, I found Secret Storms fascinating and I'm very happy for the opportunity I was given to read it.

Many thanks to Meryl Zegarek Public Relations, Inc. for shooting a copy my direction in exchange for my honest thoughts.


Cassandra said...

It sounds like a beautiful book. I didn't recognize the actress you mentioned (before my time?) but the story sounds really good. Thanks for sharing it!

Annette Whipple said...

Sounds very interesting.

(I bet I don't know any names in soap operas these days...or from any day!)

Barbara H. said...

I didn't recognize the actress, either, but the story sounds fascinating. I'm glad it worked out well for them.

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