A story about parents (loving and not-so-loving), babies (abandoned and desired), countries (functional and not-so-functional) — but mostly, about those caught in between.
“With all their flaws, the three narrators jump off the page with terrifying realism. Bev, Mannie and Faye are hard to forget.”
“(The) three dysfunctional teenage characters are fascinating in their complexity. This powerful narrative will definitely resonate with teenage readers.”
“If a great book is defined as one that you enjoy reading, and whose characters stick in your consciousness, then this is a great book.”
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) Magazine
LIKE MOST BABY GIRLS BORN IN CHINA then abandoned at markets and police stations over the last couple of decades, Faye is the adopted golden child of adoring Western parents. At seventeen, though, she’s starting to spend way too much time alone in her room, pining over a chain-smoking Belorussian exchange student and adding to her list of reasons that China sucks.
Enter Faye’s long-lost childhood neighbor – self-absorbed, unpredictable, lusciously pregnant Bev – who wants something from her old friend and won’t stop until she gets it.
This, however, may prove to be the least of Faye’s worries.
Mannie, Bev’s joyriding puppy of a baby daddy, has a half-crazed romantic agenda of his own.
As one cold, miserable prairie spring inches toward summer, the unexpected and sometimes explosive decisions each make head straight toward disaster.
This is the story of three unforgettable teenagers feeling their way into the burdens of adulthood in an imperfect world.
INSPIRATION FOR THE STORY
Nearly ten years ago, my husband and I came this close to adopting. We had completed all the interviews and paperwork for either adopting a baby daughter internationally from China, or a child as old as five who was eligible for adoption locally.
We had met and spent time with the group of couples who would travel to China with us on the same mission later in the year. Our closest friends, who’d adopted two treaty-status school-age kids, offered inspiration and support. We were just waiting to see which call (China or local) would come first.
Then I got pregnant. Twice in two years. After so much energy and hope invested into the adoption journey, we let it go and focused on our beloved babies.
Just like that, our life became a different story ― one of fierce, instinctive connection, of “look! he has your toes,” and “she’s got long legs like her dad, but has my stubborn streak.”
And yet the adoption story lingered, a road so carefully built and then not taken, and as soon as my kids were out of diapers, I wrote the book.
Adoption, and especially international adoption, speaks to everything that I’m most interested in as a writer: the intricacies of identity and culture, and how the internal voice and external forces collide to create the tension of all good novels.
This tension is perhaps never more pronounced than when we’re growing into adulthood. This had to be a YA story.
I spent months reading the growing body of literature (both personal accounts and academic analysis) about Chinese adoption.
Today, tens of thousands of adopted Chinese girls are coming of age throughout western Europe and North America as a direct result of China’s one-child policy and a culture set up to necessitate male heirs. This Diaspora of young women who were abandoned at police stations, post offices and markets can never trace their birth parents, while they’re adoptive parents have promised the Chinese government to do what they can to recognize and celebrate the girls’ Chinese heritage.
What will it be like for them as they mature into young women, these girls who are a product of a grand social experiment that seemed to meet everybody’s needs?
While I was pregnant, feeling my body change and struggle to create a new life, I was struck by a thought: what is pregnancy like for a sociopath? I was also inspired by headlines like this in the Winnipeg Free Press.
I have a long history up in Clear Lake,
where the Keeseekoowenin, an Anishinaabe band, were “removed” from their land in the mid-1930s to clear the way to create Riding Mountain National Park. As a life-long Manitoba writer, my work pretty much always explores some aspect of this defining relationship between the province’s European settlers and its Aboriginal people, who are still paying the steep price of progress.
BOOKS I READ THAT YOU MIGHT FIND INTERESTING
I read dozens of books about China, and Chinese adoption, while researching Your Constant Star. Three of my favourites were:
The Good Women of China —Hidden Voices, Xinran (Vintage Canada Edition, 2003)
The Lost Daughters of China, Karin Evans (Penguin Putnam Inc., 2001)
Things That Must Not Be Forgotten — A Childhood in Wartime China, Michael David Kwan (MacFarlane Walter and Ross, 2000)
I also found Classical Music for Dummies (with CD included!) very helpful in having some small clue about Faye’s cello studies (David Pogue and Scott Speck, Wiley Publishing Inc., 1997).