When I was five years old, my best friend found out that she was adopted. I didn’t fully appreciate what adopted meant at the time, or understand why it was so important to my friend, but the word did seem to carry a lot of weight. I remember noting that my friend was very curious about where she came from. Now that I am all grown up, I know what adopted means, but it wasn’t until after I read The Search Angel by Tish Cohen, that I felt as though I better understood the complex emotions that are involved in adoption—for the biological parent, the adoptive parent, and the child.
In The Search Angel, Eleanor Sweet experiences adoption from every angle. Eleanor is unable to conceive and yearns for a baby of her own. After a long process, Eleanor and her husband are finally approved for an adoption, and their new baby Sylvie is ready and waiting. But Eleanor’s life is turned upside down when her husband suddenly gets cold feet and wants to back out of the adoption. Eleanor learns that she will be approved for an adoption as a single mother only if she has a strong support system intact. But Eleanor is adopted herself, and her adoptive parents have passed away. And so, Eleanor sets out to find her support system—her birth mother—with the help of an expert in reuniting families: a Search Angel.
Cohen explores the complexities surrounding adoption with a delicate hand, and through elegant and engaging prose. Because Eleanor is both adopted and adopting, the reader is exposed to the complete picture of adoption, from all angles, and with all of its complexities. The Search Angel is character driven, and as I read, I felt as though I really got to know Eleanor, and to share in her joys and her frustrations.
The Search Angel is one of those books that I couldn’t wait to read and to keep reading. I consumed this book in big gulps, polishing it off in just a few short days this past weekend. And, for me, The Search Angel was the perfect weekend escape.
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