Sunday, April 8, 2012

Book Review: The Sacred Thread: A True Story of Becoming a Mother and Finding a Family--Half a World Away

The Sacred Thread: A True Story of Becoming a Mother and Finding a Family--Half a World Away

4.5 out of 5 stars.

As a read this book, I started folding little corners on pages that had little oddities to me. Things like using terms such follicles and eggs interchangeably (having 4 or 5 follicles in a scan and then saying you have 4 or 5 eggs.)  Then implying that only a few more than 4 or 5 may be too many (not true as >30 indicates high risk for ovarian over-stimulation). There is a timeline issue that does not flow correctly on one or two occasions. Little things here and there. More like editorial mistakes that would have been hard to catch unless you are a woman going through IVF, and in some cases realizing inaccuracies about India.

That said, if you can look past these things, if you can say to yourself  "this is her story and probably her perception at the time she wrote it", then it is an awesome read. Adrienne Arieff does a wonderful job of letting you feel like you are on the ride with her, which is important as many of her readers will be on, or considering, a similar journey. Her adventurous spirit is infectious and gives courage to all who read her story. There are plenty of places to weep with joy as well as with sadness, and not all in areas that one would expect.

Many western authors make the mistake of trying to repeatedly lump all of India into one classification. Arieff does not do this to my tremendous relief. She is humble and non-judgmental in her writings of her experience, and in some cases recognizes her own short comings and that of the culture she was raised in. Yay for authors that are so insightful! She only voices her frustrations and observations of her experiences when dealing with a foreign culture that she is not used to, while still showing the importance of remaining respectful. Even when it may seem impossible.

I must pause here and mention one thing that I did not like and seemed completely out of place here in the book: a part when she does become judgmental towards genetic parent(s) for 2 short paragraphs. Some may find it quite insulting when she surmises about why most do not stay in India as long as she did. In a book that does a great job of avoiding a supercilious tone, here is where she stumbles. 

Arieff can be forgiven, as this is her only major aberration in the book. The story was intriguing enough that I finished it in days instead of my normal squeezing in of 10-20 minutes a night. She does an excellent job of expressing herself in away that the reader experiences everything with her. You feel like an insider and want to hug her for support and happiness throughout the book. 

My own experiences of India and my new family over there has shown me how important family is. Arieff nails this concept. Not only through her struggles of having a child, but also in remembering her mother, in her adventures with her mother-in-law, her childhood, and even with the family of her surrogate. Family is a reoccurring theme throughout the book no matter where she takes you - past or present. In a country where it is often heard that "family is the number one priority", it seems fitting to consider starting one there.

I look at all of  the little folded pages of flaws I've booked marked and notice something else - many are not even flaws but important concepts I wanted to look back on at a later time. It is then that I realize that the bookmarks were really just an excuse to read this book again. I'm sure I will. Right after I let a few people borrow it.

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