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Rock Needs River: A Memoir About a Very Open Adoption
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Rock Needs River: A Memoir About a Very Open Adoption

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  6,467 ratings  ·  486 reviews
From a story first told in the popular New York Times parenting blog comes a funny, touching memoir about a mother who welcomes more than a new daughter into her home.

After two years of waiting to adopt—slogging through paperwork and bouncing between hope and despair—a miracle finally happened for Vanessa McGrady. Her sweet baby, Grace, was a dream come true. Then Vanessa
Hardcover, 204 pages
Published February 1st 2019 by Little A
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Average rating 3.49  · 
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 ·  6,467 ratings  ·  486 reviews

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Sarah Hyatt
Jan 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: giving-up
This book fails miserably at all the things it claims to be.

It perfectly fits my usual interests -- memoir! adoption! OPEN adoption! I was so excited to see a book that fit my odd little reading niche so nicely, especially for free. I dove into it, hoping it would be my first great read of the year.

It was not.

From the memoir perspective -- it's just not a good book. It's vague and too quick in places it shouldn't be, and long and rambling in others. It reads similarly to a teenage or early co
Overall, this wasn't a terrible read, but it really wasn't very good, either. I must begin by saying, that any person that adopts a child, I have admiration for, as it is never a process that is done lightly. It is usually lengthy, difficult and sometimes, can be pretty emotional for all people involved. This book is about an open adoption, where eventually, the adoptive parent allows the birth parents to move in and live in her home.

Unfortunately, the actual adoption doesn't occur until around
Natalie Joy
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-first
I'm disappointed that this was my first completed read of the year! I am glad that it was a free read via Amazon's Kindle First program because I cannot imagine wanting to spend money on this fluff piece.

The book blurb suggests a "funny" and "witty" story of a mother's 2 year wait to adopt and then the surprise twist of taking her baby's birth parents into her home when they end up homeless. It takes FIVE CHAPTERS to actually get to the "adoption" part of the story--those five chapters are an a
Julie Robichaux
Oh, man, the author was so close to getting it...and just never did. I was aching for her to develop some sort of insight — any sort of insight! — into why she felt and behaved as she did towards her daughter's bio-parents.

Instead, over and over again, I read confused complaints about how they disappointed her — and very little acknowledgement that her expectations may have been unfair. Very little awareness that it was presumptuous to impose her own standards on them, and that her position of c
Heather Macaulay-ditaranto
Entertaining at first but quickly turned into a narcissistic account of one woman's (the author, perhaps?) Sexual encounters, work history and selfish desire to have a baby when obviously she wasn't meant to be a mother.

I was disappointed that this story appeared to be the memoirs of a self applauding wannabe. No real depth to this book.
Goth Gone Grey
More about the author than the adoption - very self-absorbed

I wish more of the book had the upbeat, optimistic style of this example:

"My parents taught me how to create a tribe. Some of my blood-related family is in my tribe, to be sure, but most of its members I’ve picked up along the way, starting when I was four with my best friend, Lisa, who lived downstairs and who is closer to me today than any blood sister could be. My tribe is hilarious and loyal and helpful and made up of fragile soul
This was one of my Amazon First Reads picks for the month of January.

"From a story first told on the popular New York Times parenting blog comes a funny, touching memoir about a mother who welcomes more than a new daughter into her home"

Oh, how misleading this little blurb is! Why? Because there isn't much funny or touching about this book. To be honest, it isn't even really a book about an open adoption since the author barely touches on the actual process and doesn't seem to have any understan
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
I came across this book as a free download from Amazon Prime. I almost bailed just 20 pages in (mostly due to swearing) but decided to stick with it because it was describing a life and circumstances foreign to my own life and circumstances. While somewhat interesting, I found the writing and pacing weak. The author tries to be open and vulnerable, but her self analysis more often swings towards justification and rationalization than true awareness. Some of her life mottos are completely differe ...more
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the story of a woman growing into her heart. With cozy candor that invites the reader to pour a tall glass of malbec, kick off her shoes and curl into the sofa, Vanessa McGrady shares her journey of choice and circumstance to becoming a mother.

One summer day, I was lolling around in the bath, and, inexplicably, with no apparent trigger, I wanted a baby. I was nearing thirty. I felt an allover tug in my body, a missing of someone I didn't know. Every single cell in me ached. The tears sta
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand it gives an decent account of the long and expensive adoption process. Adoption is not for the faint of heart. The process is grueling, invasive and exorbitantly expensive. I personally liken it to legalized selling of children. When there are so many children in this country alone in need of loving parents, I find the cost appalling. And the author shines a little light there.
Unconventional open adoption is the road less traveled and the
Tami Sullivan
Jan 08, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not my favorite read

The author paints herself in a virtuous tone, but instead presents herself as needy and victimized. I was disappointed. Pass on this depressing, self-congratulatory mess of a book.
David Groves
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a free, easy, loving skate of a read this is! I mean this only in the best way, as in the way that the classic memoir Wild reads. I could read this memoir in bed in the morning, put it down, and whenever I passed it during the day, it would be calling to me. I would pick it up and read a few pages and realize it had been living inside me even when I wasn’t reading it. It’s just that kind of book.
This is the story of an open adoption, of course, but it’s also the story of what happens when y
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sharon Jones
Not one of the best

I did not care for the main character, Vanessa. She seemed self-centered, hard to please and unwilling to make any commitment. She went through men like they were there to please her and if anything went astray in her thinking, they were toast. She allowed herself to do what she wanted in a relationship. I have doubts that she is the "good" mother she makes herself out to be. Not my pick for a steady Mother.
Jul 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were some good quotes and good parts- mostly when she describes how much she loves her daughter (which, like, mom book duh). Then there were some frustrating parts- mostly when she would try to convince the reader that her (now public) criticisms of her daughter's biological parents and her ex-husband were justified. All in all, I'm not unhappy I spent the time reading it but will most likely not read it again. ...more
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars

I don't know what I was expecting from this book about an open adoption, I think I was just being nosey and wanted to see how everyone reacted.

I don't think this is exactly what was promised in the blurb, but I really enjoyed it. It left me thinking about everyone involved in an open adoption, their back stories etc. I think its clear that this is a biased portrayal of the situation as it is written from the point of view of the adoptive mother, and her interpretations of how everyone
Jan 15, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book because as a parent in an open adoption, I hoped to glean insights on how others do it and how to get better at it. While this is a vulnerable, honest look at what open adoption looks like, it made me sad to see the child's parents history, their weakest moments laid bare for anyone to read. While they will get past this phase in their lives, these words will live on. I feel broken for the child who will one day read this and wonder why this was shared.

I wish the book had emp
Kimberley Moran
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Vanessa’s story is exceptional but it’s her writing that pulls you in close and keeps you there. I opened the book expecting to read a few pages to see what I was getting into and closed it three hours later on the last page.
Nov 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs
I can always appreciate when an author pours their heart out onto the pages of a book. It is evident in this memoir that McGrady wanted to provide her daughter with background information and clarity on how they came together as mother and daughter. There were very touching moments and messages in this book that were relatable, whether you are a parent or a child. From that perspective, I think the author was successful in doing so.

I think it is helpful to keep in mind that this memoir was writt
Beth Ellor
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A life fully lived

Vanessa McGrady pulls no punches in describing her own life and her transformation into a passionate mother. Because I'm also a late-blooming passionate mother (since 1988) so much of it rings true. She upends the sentimentality that often surrounds adoption to the uninitiated. Her recognition of the adoption triad and respect for the deep unknowns is such a relief, amid so much psychobabble. And her narrative, while familiar in feeling, also demonstrates the totally unpredicta
Bonnye Reed
GNAB Rock Needs River is an intriguing memoir about Vanessa McGrady's very open adoption of her daughter Grace. And as traumatic as it was, as all 'transplants' are, the honest and very transparent way this adoption went has to be better than secretive way most adoptions in my day were handled. So many questions that adoptees need answers to are literally just facts of life.

It can't have been easy for any of the adults in this memoir to be this frank and open about their feelings concerning the
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Alright guys this is going to be a lot of ranting, so buckle up! It might be a bumpy ride.

This book was touted as
"Vanessa’s love letter to her daughter, one that illuminates the universal need for connection and the heroine’s journey to find her tribe"
"A touching memoir about a mother who welcomes more than a new daughter into her home"

This ended up being
0-60%: A parade of the author's ex boyfriends, in semi-relation of how the uathor decided she wanted to become a mother.
60-70%: Learning ab
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Amazon Kindle First for January

I picked this as I was hoping for some insight into open adoption of which I have no experience or understanding. If that’s what you are looking for - forget it with this book. It was about 30% in before adoption was even mentioned as it was more memoir of a not especially interesting life as Vanessa went from partner to partner. I felt empathy with her miscarriages as I’ve been there myself and I applaud people who give a loving home to adopted children. However,
Jan 05, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not a fan

Rather than being a real story about open adoption, this was more the progressive feminist diatribe of a narcissist. All relationships revolved around the author and her point of view. I found it disturbing.
Meredith Reads
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book was a disappointment. I thought the book would be...well...different. The book felt like the author was trying to convince the world she was a good person (she donated $50 to the food pantry after all) and there were many discrepancies in her story. First she says her parents taught her the value of holding onto people then she says they taught her the value of not needing others and being independent. She claims to be barely able to make the rent yet has a high profile job, wears Mich ...more
Feb 23, 2021 rated it it was ok
I was very eager to read this memoir but came away from it with very mixed feelings. It felt raw and honest at times, and far too one-sided at others. As I read I hoped to learn more about Grace's birth parents, and who they really are as people, and what had been withheld about them, either by the birth parents themselves or by the author. Moreover, there were mentions here and there of the adoption agency's treatment of the birth parents, and of their intense anger about this treatment, but th ...more
Sep 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McGrady does a lovely and very honest-feeling job of looking at adoption from various perspectives. I haven't read a lot about adoption and have no personal experience, so I'm winging it here, but it seems extraordinary to me that McGrady took her adopted daughter's birth parents into her home when they were experiencing homelessness. These are not her biological family members; that probably happens fairly often.

She did so partly in gratitude and partly because she figured why give only to cha
Amira  Richardson

I was adopted as a 4 month old baby in a closed adoption but through God's infinite Grace a LOVELY woman reunited my family with me and I was able to spend 25 years of lost time with my birth mom before she passed away in 2018. Open adoptions allow those who are adopted to be completely whole...not that we love our God given families any less...but for many of us there are missing pieces. Thank you Vanessa McGrath for this amazing story of inclusion for all involved!
Kristen Howell
3.5 Stars
I didn’t seek out this book. I got it free from Amazon and read it because one of my goals is to read more non-fiction. I didn’t love the writing in the book and felt like the writer couldn’t decide between being conversational and formal. But I did like the story and enjoyed hearing ( took a while!!) how she came to adopt her daughter. I’m not sure I’m a strong enough person to handle the open adoption the way she did and certainly admire her strength and unconditional love
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
oh my goodness, what a great read ... i've heard of many folks who have adopted kids ... one or multiple i can not imagine ... i am not parent but i can imagine the feelings and the emotions u might feel or go through ... i am a companionate person ... those feelings come easily and at times it was hard to hear or know how one might go through a stressful - emotional time like this ... so well written. great story. for me humor always get me through everything ... i see it here in this read. ple ...more
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Histories, biographies, memoirs, essays, science, technology, true crime, self-help, how-tos, and so on: The world of nonfiction is vast and...
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“All you get in this lifetime is yourself, and everyone else is a gift given for an uncertain period of time.” 4 likes
“I’ve eventually come away with, after trying unsuccessfully to train my parents to be what I thought they should be, is that the fewer expectations I have from people to give me what I need, the better. I can forage for it or it can drop on my head, but I can’t demand support, love, or even the right kind of attention from anyone, especially family. If and when it comes, I’m delighted.” 1 likes
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