Mark's Reviews > A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life

A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Apr 04, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: coming-of-age, death-and-dying, engl-492-spring-2012, illness, re-read, young-adult-literature, religion
Read from March 26 to 28, 2012

"When I was little I never played with dolls. I never had baby dolls with little changeable outfits. I never had a doll who closed her eyes when you tilted her head back, or said 'mama,' or, like Cleo's doll, peed when you fed her a bottle of water. (I always thought that was kind of gross). And I never, ever played with Barbie dolls because in my house Barbie was pretty much the devil incarnate. But I did have this one soft toy that I never would have called a doll, though it had yarn for hair and a flat, soft face with painted-on features. I had her for years. She went through the wash so many times that eventually her features faded to nothing. This is what Rivka has become to me. She's not a mongoose from a famous children's story. She's not a place. She's a person with a blank space where a face would be. While some things are becoming clearer and some blanks are being filled in, I still can't imagine her face. And in about an hour or so I won't have to."

Simone has lived her entire life with her parents and younger brother, knowing that she was adopted as an infant. She's aware of her birth mother, but has never met her. When her parents suddenly inform her that Rivka (Simone's birth mother) would like to meet her, Simone wants nothing to do with it. It's not that she's not a little curious, but Rivka has never been a part of her life prior to this, so why start now? She's quite happy with where she is. Once Simone relents, though, she discovers pieces of her past that begin to fill in some of the missing spaces in her own life, and raise new questions about her family, her faith, and her identity.

Having read everything that Dana Reinhardt has published, and knowing how incredible her latest work is, this, her first novel, is still perhaps my favorite. Simone's voice is honest in its questioning, and Reinhardt does such a good job of allowing readers to see the "normal" facets of Simone's life (a developing crush, relationships with friends and her brother), to counterbalance the heavy issues of adoption and faith that are raised when Rivka enters her life. While it's clear what the outcome of the novel will be, the power of the relationship between Simone and Rivka isn't lost at all. I've read many YA books that deal with issues of religion and faith, and I still have yet to find one that allows such comfortable space for the main character (and readers) to ask the difficult questions. Simone's journey between her parents' atheism and Rivka's Judaism stems not from a stereotypical sense of teen rebellion, but from a genuine search for herself, supported by a strong and loving home environment. Reinhardt handles this with great craft and sensitivity. I think I love this book more, every time I finish it.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life.
Sign In »

No comments have been added yet.