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My Fathers' Daughter

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  324 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
In 1974 Hannah Pool was adopted from an orphanage in Eritrea and brought to England by her white adoptive father. She grew up unable to imagine what it must be like to look into the eyes of a blood relative until one day a letter arrived from a brother she never knew she had. Not knowing what to do with the letter, Hannah hid it away. But she was unable to forget it, and t ...more
Paperback, 244 pages
Published July 27th 2006 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2005)
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Nabse Bamato
This is an extremely difficult review to write. Not because the book was bad - far from it. No, reviewing it is difficult because the story it tells is so incredibly personal, the writing is so honest and the experiences it relates go right to the core of the author's identity. Any criticism would feel like a belittlement of what the writer is describing and, as such, more than 'just' being a criticism of how she writes, would feel like a comment on who she is. So, deep breath, here goes.

My Fath
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is a very readable and engaging memoir, about a British journalist’s trip to Eritrea to meet her birth family. As a baby, Hannah Pool was adopted from an orphanage by a white couple then working in Sudan. She grew up primarily in England, and had no contact with her birth family until age 29, when she finally followed up on a letter a brother had sent her a decade before. Meeting a cousin in London ultimately led to her taking a two-week trip to Eritrea, where she met her biological father, ...more
Sabrina Rutter
I have read stories about adoptees meeting their birth families, and I have watched the shows on television about the same thing. Never though did I ever imagine what it might be like for someone who was adopted from a third world country to returne to the strange land of their birth.
The author is very honest, and open about her experience. I feel that this womans story is very unique in that we get to read about an African village from a whole different point of view. She is not an aid worker
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-book, 2017
Return to Eritrea.
Around the time I visited Eritrea I read two books - one about an Eritrean refugee making the treacherous journey out of Eritrea and the other about Hannah Pool, a British journalist who was born in a remote village in Eritrea and adopted from an orphanage, leaving a family she had never met. They complimented each other and both, in their own ways, educated me on this country that I knew so little about.

Hannah's mother had died giving birth to her, and her father, who already
Jan 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book is about a woman who visits her country of birth, Eritrea, about 30 years after she was adopted by English parents. I learned a lot about what international adoptees might feel and the emotions that surface as they investigate their past and meet biological family members. It was especially interesting that she consistently affirms that she wishes she had never been adopted despite what that might have meant (being a child soldier, dying young, poverty, etc.)....

My only criticism of th
Oct 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My Fathers' Daughter by Hannah Pool was a well thought out memoir. She took us on a journey through her experience of adoption and retracing her roots. The true details of what it was like to be face to face with the family that gave her up nearly 30 years ago.

This book deserves 4 stars because I felt like I was in Hannah's shoes and a part of her journey back home. She shared what it was like to live in a household where no one looked like her in a very respectable manner. I enjoyed reading he
Dulcie Pavuluri
Jan 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
An amazing first-person account of a life not lived and another path to reliving it. It is one of the best memoirs I have read. In most part I think it is because she tells the story through her own eyes and not those of others or even herself in an awkward formation of description and detail. I can't tell you much about this story but I think that it applies to many of us in some form or other. She lives one life while thinking of another and has the chance to actually live it. While living it ...more
May 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
The author was adopted by a white British couple, at the age of six months from an orphanage in Eritrea. During her early years she lives through a lot of displacement, but finally settles in with her adoptive father and stepmother in England. Her adoptive parents had been told she was an orphan, so when she receives a letter from a cousin announcing that her birth father is living, and that she has a number of siblings and half-siblings in Eritrea, and cousins around the world, her world is tur ...more
Aug 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel-the-world
This is s wonderful book about a woman who was adopted from Eritrea, grows up in England and believed that she was an orphan with no family. What I liked so much about the book was her honesty. She described in detail how she felt about being adopted, then finding out that she had a family that wanted to meet her. The anxiety of meeting her real father, and the emotions she experienced, traveling to Eritrea to meet her him for the first time.

Hannah Pool describes the villages where most of her
Jul 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Hannah Pool was born in Eritrea and adopted as a baby. The book is about her journey to the land of her birth to meet her family and find out about the life she might have led.
I think she is a little too starry-eyed about the traditional way of life, her adoption gave her many advantages she would not have had as a girl in that society. It is an interesting and at times moving story and I could understand her need to identify with the culture and traditions she felt she had lost.
Nov 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The author was born in Eritrea, and adopted at 6 mos by a British couple. This is her story, and how she rediscovered her family in Eritrea. She shares honestly her fears and worries and delights. Also a good look at identity. A good read.
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Touching true story of African baby, adopted to British parents, finds out her father is still alive...goes to Africa to meet her family.
Dean Anderson
Sep 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
"I was born a poor black child." That line always made me laugh when I heard Steve Martin say it on his LP "Let's Get Small". (I'll explain what an LP is later, kids, if you care.) He was such a WASPy guy (especially, for some odd reason, with his prematurely white hair.)
But I would think the line would some incongruous coming from the lips of Hannah Pool as well. Sure, she is black. But she is also British with the accompanying accent and she is a 30ish year old columnist for The Guardian. Her
Mar 19, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adoption
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
In Held at a Distance, the author talks a bit about the divide between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the very strong feelings some people have about the latter's identity and independence. This is one of those cases -- the author wants it known that she is Eritrean and has no connection to Ethiopia.

That the author is British by upbringing is also obvious in her writing -- it's funny how clearly voice can come through on a page -- but also allows her the distance to describe her impressions of Eritre
Mar 20, 2009 rated it liked it
My Father's Daughter is Pool's account of meeting her birth family in Eritrea at age thirty, after years of struggling with the possible ramifications for herself and the family that has loved her and raised her up to that point.

The book was informative- on that count I would give it a "4"- on the emotional issues surrounding adoptee searches, and it particularly struck home to me because I typically think about this from the birth parent standpoint due to my family history. The clarity of Pool'
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I throughly enjoyed this book. While I am not an Eritrean, I lived in Asmara for most of my elementary school years. There used to be a US Military base in Asmara called Kagnew Station. I remember my time in Eritrea fondly. It was Ethiopia when I lived there. The revolution was just beginning when we left. I left Asmara the year that Hannah was born, 1974. I was 12 years old. I have been to most of the larger cities she mentioned in the book. The towns of Keren and Massawa had recreation areas f ...more
Apr 07, 2010 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: anyone interested in African culture
Shelves: true, african
Hannah was born in Eritrea, and adopted by a white family who settled in the UK. Out of the blue, a letter arrives from her real brother to explain that she still has a whole family in Eritrea who want to meet her. After 10 years of stalling, she decides to go and meet her family but is totally unprepared for the culture shock.
This was a decent book to read, seeing how other people are brought up and how different other cultures are. I did enjoy this but the author really bugged me. She seemed
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
I loved this story and Hannah's encounter with Eritrea and her family there really struck a chord with me. She 'often freaks out' at new awakenings and her coming to terms with expectations from other people really reminded me of my trip to Ethiopia. I know it's a different country but the food, the traditions and the people are very similar - after all historically they were one. People's surprise at her not remembering their names, the joys of being asked again and again why you do not speak t ...more
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, adoption
I really enjoyed the book as the author did such a great job bringing alive her feelings about being adopted and about the opportunity to meet her birth family. As an adoptive mom, I really appreciate her honesty regarding her feelings. She also did a wonderful job making this story come alive, including her decision to meet her birth family, her time spent with them, and the impact the experience had on her after returning home.

I appreciate how she explored the guilt she felt, growing up with s
Jan 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My Fathers' Daughter is a very moving memoir. At the age of 6 months, Hannah Pool was adopted from an orphanage in Eritrea by a British father and American mother. Hannah tells the story of the search for her birth family. Fascinating story because of all of the cultural, political, social information about Eritrea and the countries struggles with border skirmishes, poverty, government problems, etc. The book is not necessarily well-written, but the story is touching. It really made me want to g ...more
From reading this book, I learned why many adopted children decide to look for and contact their birth parents when they grow older as if it's a missing piece to their life puzzle. I find this similar to how many people seek to find meaning to their life, and how they fit in this world.
Hannah was adopted by a British family when she was a couple of months old. Visiting Eritrea and the way she describes the culture was very interesting. Being that I am Eritrean, speak the language fluently and fi
Apr 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adoption, bookclub
This book was so good and yet conflicting. As an adoptive parent, I have seen the looks of wonder and the quiet and sometimes emotionally charged mindset of being adopted and the question that no adoptive parent can completely and truthfully answer and that is 'why'. This book is Hannah's process. It is very reflective, personal, sensitive and enlightening. For the parents of adoptive children it can be both bitter and sweet. It is a joy to become a parent and yet for the child, it is that life ...more
Jul 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: biog-and-memoir
The apostrophe is positioned correctly – this is the story of Hannah Pool’s two fathers, the one who adopted her from Eritrea and brought her up in England, and her birth father, who for years Hannah had thought was dead. Even after she received a letter from a cousin who told her about her unknown family in Eritrea, it was some years before she could bring herself to face going there to meet them. This is the story of her travels, and her reaction to this whole new family that she met. I was a ...more
Aryam Tewolde
Jun 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It had been sometime since I could not put a book down , and was up the whole night. But this did it for me .
Loved how the writer pulled me in and seemed to involve me during the unfolding tale. She wrote about the tale like it was happening right then while I read through it. She just wasn't narrating it to me, I felt that I was actually experiencing it with her.The story it tells is so incredibly personal, the writing is so honest and the experiences it relates go right to the core of the aut
Pool was adopted as an infant. Growing up, she was told that her mother and father were deceased. Well into adulthood she discovers that her father is alive and that she has a very large family in Eritrea. Her memoir focuses on the discovery of her birth family and her physical and emotional journey getting to know her country of birth and her African family.

There’s no denying her extreme angst and emotional upheaval. She picks and prods through every morsel of rumination with complete honesty.
Feb 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
I read a similar book a while ago and this is much better. It's well written, which I would expect of a journalist, and gives a very intimate account of the highs and lows of an adoptee. I particularly liked how she dealt with meeting and feeling the connection with people who look like her for the first time in her life. And I appreciated the honesty, when she relates how she gets annoyed or scared. There may be a bit too much of the emotional roller coaster. At times she is annoyingly dithery ...more
Scooping it Up
Sep 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adoption-reads
A wonderful memoir about an adult adoptee and her journey to connect with her birth family and find her roots. Her perspective and storytelling are well worth the read, which I find especially helpful as an adoptive parent.

Her story makes me wish that ALL adoptees who wish to connect to their birth families can find them.

I highly recommend to anyone, but especially to anyone who is touched by adoption.
This was a fascinating subject common to many adopted children. However the author's constant dwelling on subjects that might be more suitable for a teenage girl rather than a 30 year old woman did not always make me like her very much. I could understand a lot of her more serious reservations and mixed emotions but the seeming lack of maturity was irritating and spoiled what could have been an excellent book for me.

Better editing needed!
Aug 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adoption, africa
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys memoirs. It is a wonderful blend of humor and poignancy. The author (a fashion editor for the London newspaper The Guardian) discovers after almost thirty years that her biological father is alive and that she has a large family in Eritrea.
Interesting companion to Held At a Distance, where another adult revisits the country of her birth (in this case Ethiopia) after fleeing with her family as a young child.
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