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Then She Found Me

3.43  ·  Rating Details ·  2,745 Ratings  ·  325 Reviews
One of Elinor Lipman's funniest and most entertaining novels.

Given up for adoption thirty-six years ago, April Epner, now a quiet-living, sensible-jumper-wearing Latin teacher, has never had the slightest desire to be reunited with her biological mother. But, as it turns out, she doesn't have a choice.

When Bernice Graverman, the brash, glamorous host of a mildly successful
Paperback, 311 pages
Published August 9th 2007 by Headline Review (first published January 1st 1990)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jun 20, 2008 Roxann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw the trailer for the movie that is based on this book and thought I would like to see it - then I found out it was rated R. Saw the book in the grocery store last week and bought it. The first chapter is one of the greatest hooks I have ever read, starting with the sentence, "My biological mother was seventeen when she had me in 1952, and even that was more than I wanted to know about her.", and ending with the sentence, "Then she found me." What follows is a reunion story set in 1988 betwe ...more
May 27, 2008 Anika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elinor Lipman is one of my favorite authors. I re-read Then She Found Me in preparation for the April release of the film -- directed by and starring Helen Hunt. The book and movie are different (plots vary greatly) but both have the same Lipman charm. Yeah for Elinor (and Helen)!
Jun 01, 2008 Chazzle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of stories of human relationships
Recommended to Chazzle by: Book Lust author Nancy Pearl
Features an overly histrionic birth mother, who hosts her own local talk show, finding the daughter she gave up for adoption some thirty years ago. If you know some people that like to "perform", even in the absence of cameras, you might get some good laughs reading about the birth mother.

Poignant and funny.
Jan 08, 2009 Helen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Boring, snoring. I was listening to this on downloadable and missed a part. I realized then that I didn't care enough about the characters or the story to go back to here I had left off. So I quit. It was quite liberating, really.
Mar 04, 2011 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mod-lit
"My biological mother was 17 when she had me in 1952, and even that was more than I wanted to know about her.” But April Epner is about to find out more - a whole lot more. Then She Found Me is a bittersweet gem of a novel dealing with the reunion of mother and daughter, when the daughter is 36 and the mother in her fifties. April is a serious, reserved Latin teacher whose adoptive parents have since died. Bernice G is a local talk show host, brash, narcissistic, and determined to always have lo ...more
Apr 28, 2009 Cami rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-lit
I snatched this book off the library shelf randomly one day. The cover has an image of Bette Midler on her knees in front of Helen Hunt. Although these two were well cast as Bernice and April, I was frustrated that I couldn't create these characters in my own mind, but oh well.
This is another story of an adopted child, now adult, who ends up in contact with her train-wreck of birth mother (see The English American by Alison Larkin).
I could not put it down, but didn't necessarily want to read it
Sep 09, 2008 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had my doubts when I first started reading this novel - narrated by an adult adopted person (sensible and down-to-earth) who is unexpectedly contacted by her birth mother (flamboyant to say the least - in the movie the birthmom is played by Bette Midler). The plot seems headed for improbable and unrealistic, but takes a surprising turn toward reality and ends up being a nice, sweet story. The movie is apparently not as good as the book.

This was the author's first novel, published around 1990,
Aug 29, 2008 Lynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: booksale-finds
I was surprised that this book was so good and I can even say that Elinor Lipman is a bit of a discovery for me. The edition that I have is from one of my library booksale forays into the "oversize paperback" section (which evolved from the slightly higher brow "trade paperback" section, which I LOVED!) The cover art and blurb are chick-littish. I'm not a snob, but I'm not usually attracted by ultra-modern girly stuff. However, something about it seemed Bridget Jones-ey or Nanny Diary-ish to me, ...more
Sari Lynn
Jun 08, 2008 Sari Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've enjoyed Elinor Lipman's books in the past, and picked this one up to read after seeing a trailer for the Helen Hunt/Bette Midler film. It became immediately apparent that, outside of the main characters, the film holds little resemblance to the book. (See Lipman's blog post on for the story of how the film came to be so different.) I enjoyed the book quite a bit, and although I couldn't get Midler out of my mind as Bernice G! - she really rings true to the character in the book. ...more
Aug 22, 2008 Nell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elinor Lipman tells stories that might be about people you know, with characters, relationships, and situations all layered and believable. I almost feel as if I'm looking into people's windows. In her novels I've read, the endings are happy but not pat. I looked for Then She Found Me after hearing Helen Hunt interviewed about making a movie of it, and it has great movie potential: April Epner, a 36-year-old Latin teacher who knew she was adopted, is approached by her birth mother, a local talk ...more
Sep 28, 2008 Dawn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was so surprised to see that this book had been turned into a movie. It wasn't a very good movie, which is probably why I didn't know anything about it until I saw it on a flight home last summer. The movie was almost nothing like the book--which was great. I loved the premise--a "Sally Jessie Raphael" type (now I think of it, they should have cast Oprah, but Bette Midler played the role very well in the movie) decides to look for the baby she gave up for adoption years before. The baby is now ...more
Feb 10, 2009 Kimberly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was hoping as I got into this book it would become more interesting...more witty or heartwarming- it didn't. I thought the bernice character would be more interesting, but she was not enjoyable to read. I did like the relationship between Dwight and April. For that reason alone I gave this two stars instead of one. I also feel like the author was trying to create a "shock" factor in the book by using the word Fuck a lot to describe sex. It didn't work for me. It just seemed out of place and un ...more
Jun 16, 2008 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read several books by Lipman, but I think this might be my favorite so far. I loved it. The characters were so well developed and quirky, and I grew fond of all of them, even Bernice! The plot moved along very well and I just enjoyed reading it. My only slight quibble is that the subplot about the "other daughter" seemed to sort of fizzle out without being resolved--she seemed like she was shaping up to be an interesting character, and then she just disappeared. But really, that is my only ...more
Marion Vermazen
Feb 02, 2015 Marion Vermazen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Most annoying book I've read in a long time. I listened to it while driving and only finished it to see what happened. I think the voicing by the reader of the mother and daughter contributed to the annoyance level.
Sep 05, 2015 Rebecca rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, depressing
A friend recommended this but I don't know why. While it had an interesting premise (36 year old schoolteacher raised by Holocaust survivors meets her crazy birth mother), it didn't work for me.

April Epner is a flat character. A smart woman with a masters degree in dead languages, she teaches at a Boston High School and has no goals or motivation. She's perfectly happy with her dull life which includes no hobbies, no interests of any kind, no boyfriends and no family beyond her brother, Fred, wh
I read this book in anticipation of the upcoming Helen Hunt movie, which I thought looked pretty good. It turns out the movie story and the book story are pretty different, but I genuinely enjoyed the book. It was well written - much better than I expected from the look and feel of the story/cover - and it was fast-paced and witty with very real feeling characters. All in all, not the best book I've ever read but genuinely enjoyable.
Sep 13, 2007 Giovanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Lipman's books look as if they must be 'guilty pleasure' books, but I swear they're good--Lipman has a singular voice and dry sense of humor. They're in a class of books that is hard to come by--maybe not 'literary fiction' but fun: well-written keen studies of people. Though I and others might argue that they are 'literary fiction'! If only the covers didn't scream 'chick lit'...
Jul 06, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
This book just goes to show that timing is everything. I began this book over a year ago and could not get into it. Picked it up a few days ago and was immediately drawn in to the point that I have awarded it four stars. Enjoyed the story, the main characters, and Lipman's writing style. Guess I'll have to remember this lesson the next time I struggle to finish a novel.
Dec 30, 2008 Darla rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't know why I read this...maybe the report on NPR about Helen Hunt working so hard to make the movie. I don't know, reading it made me NOT want to see the movie. It was okay but not real memorable. Another one of those contemporary bestsellerish books. I'd recommend this to folks who don't like Danielle Steel but like Jodi Picoult.
Jun 07, 2014 Cathi95 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
(Fiction, Romance 1990) April Epner is in her mid-thirties, a middle school teacher, and pretty content with her solitary life, although she misses her parents who have died. Into her orderly life bounces local talk show host Bernice Graverman who informs April that she is her birth mother, and is ready to redeem herself for giving April up. Meanwhile, April finds herself responding to the somewhat dorky school librarian, Dwight Willamee. As the turmoil in her life grows, so does her awareness o ...more
Apr 15, 2014 Marla rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was my first book by Elinor Lipman. If I hadn't already checked out several other books by her, it may have been my last. The protagonist, April Lepner, was adopted at 6 months. After her adoptive parents died, her birth mother came out of the woodwork to introduce herself and claim "her daughter." I did not like her birth mother. She was narcissistic and manipulative. Embedded in that is a liar. A totally unlikable character for my sensibilities. But I liked the other characters so I kept ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life

"Meet April Epner, the serious, scholarly, adopted daughter of two equally staid parents. They die, but April finds that she's far from orphaned when her birth mother, Bernice Graverman, comes to claim April's heart and improve her wardrobe and love life, too. April is a Latin teacher, given to wearing flannel jumpers. Bernice is hostess of a third-rate daytime talk show and wears designer labels and toad-sized earrings. She descends upon April's quiet life with the tact of a size-six loc
May 05, 2008 Doneen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not at all what I expected from a book about adoption and the search by the biological mother for her daughter given up as an infant. It was actually hilarious! The mother is a piece of work and definitely not someone the daughter was interested in getting to know. Fun book.
I finished this book this morning sitting on my red sofa with my first coffee as the sun came up, and heard myself saying out loud to the empty room, "What a lovely book!" I'm not going to tell you the plot, just say that I found the characters totally delightful and engaging, despite (or perhaps because of) the over-the-topness of Bernice, the mother.

I went looking for reviews (which I don't do till I've finished the book and know what I thought of it) and found, to my surprise, that a movie w
Jun 27, 2007 Danielle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: just-fun
Not my favorite Elinor, but still great fun. Just found out (Aug 07) that it's being made into a movie, and it's Helen Hunt's feature directorial debut. With Colin Firth and Bette Midler as the mom - what fun!
Regina Stone-Matthews
I enjoyed this book but didn't love it. It was an easy and fast read. The reason for my 3 star rating is because of two things. I hated the ending and found it somewhat silly in parts in that it didn't have a very intriguing plot. What I did like about it was the dialogue read at a good clip which I always enjoy. I did like the story about the parents. I loved Dwight. Bernice got on my last nerve. Although I did like April, she too was annoying at times. And, I liked Jack. I haven't seen the mov ...more
I could not even make it half way through this book. As a birth mother, I found it offensive that Bernice kept referring to herself as the "real mother" while April did nothing to correct her. April even referred to Bernice as her "real mother" at first, though she does deserve credit for later stating that the parents who raised her were her "real" parents. I understand that this book came out in 1990, and that open adoptions and what-not were not as common, but again, from a birth mother persp ...more
Jul 21, 2009 Tsrcape rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This lady knows how to write!
Dec 18, 2015 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jewish-fiction
April Epner is a Latin high school teacher, in her 30's , going along fairly happily in her single life. She was adopted and raised by Jewish holocaust survivors, and was never very curious about her birth mother. Until the day Bernice approaches her through a friend and says she wants to be part of her life, now that April's adoptive parents have died.
April meets with her mother once a week for dinner, to help them understand each other's lives. April is shy, retiring, reticent and Bernice Gra
Jane Stewart
Not as funny, witty or heartwarming as I expected.

An obnoxious woman enters the life of her biological daughter, now 36 years old, whom she gave up at birth. This is not what I expected. Other reviewers used the words: bright, funny, charming, raising laughter and tears. I was hoping to laugh out loud and to be surprised and delighted, but I wasn't. Bernice was eccentric and interesting only when I would think of Bette Midler playing her in the movie, but she wasn't enjoyable to read about. Bern
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Elinor Lipman is the author of eight novels about contemporary American society and a collection of short stories. Born and raised in Lowell, Massachusetts, Lipman graduated from Simmons College where she studied journalism. She lives in Western Massachusetts and Manhattan, and received the New England Book award for fiction in 2001. Her novels Then She Found Me, The Ladies' Man, and The Pursuit o ...more
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“There is an old Jewish story, an ordinary Jewish joke. A father was teaching his little son to be less afraid and have more courage. “Jump,” he said, “and I will catch you.” And the little boy trusted him and the little boy jumped. And when his father caught him he felt filled with love. And when he didn’t, he was filled with something else…something more. Life. (From the movie 'Then She Found Me.')” 4 likes
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