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Jessica Lost: A Story of Birth, Adoption The Meaning of Motherhood

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  218 ratings  ·  53 reviews
A mother and her child, lost and then found again after four decades: this extraordinary story of love, loss, and reunion is told in alternating voices by the two women, each relating her own powerful experience.
For the mother, it's the tale of an unhappy marriage followed by betrayal, a pregnancy of uncertain paternity, and the heartrending decision to give up her newborn
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Union Square Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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Lois Duncan
Jul 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
I think this book might be of great interest to adults who were adopted as children or to birth mothers who gave up their babies for adoption.

It started off well, with chapters written in first person, alternating between the viewpoint of the natural mother and the grown child who is searching for her birth mother. Assuming this book was fiction, I kept waiting for a plot to develop, but that didn't happen. I also was bewildered by the fact that the alternating chapters were written in the exac
Mar 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing book! Touching and warm the book really made me think about how much of who we are is Nature vs. Nurture. Jil was given up for adoption and as an adult she found and reconnected with her birth mother. She finds that they share some amazing simliarities and personality traits. I think true stories of adoption are interesting especially reading someone's story where they locate their birth mother and learn about themselves in the process. Told in alternating voices this book wa ...more
Oct 21, 2011 rated it did not like it
I'm adopted, and as a matter of fact, my birthmother sent me this book. I found her about 10 years ago, and we are really close. She told me I would relate to this book. She was wrong. I could NOT get through this book. I couldn't stand how negative the daughter was about her adoptive mother. I thought it was really unfair. And besides that it was BORING. I got about half way through and gave up. ...more
Bridget Aleshire
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book involved a family member of mine, so it has a personal meaning for me, and I'm very fond of how the story is told back and forth between daughter's and mother's journeys back to each other. ...more
Nov 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: abc-books
Book Club Pick: We liked the fact that this book was accessible - easy to read an concise. There wasn't much trust in this book. It seemed that all relationships were strained. This book made us think a lot about adoption and how that impacts families. ...more
S Johnston
Mar 09, 2011 rated it liked it
I received this book free through a Good Reads drawing, and enjoyed it very much.

A thoughtful memoir. The authors are the birth mother and daughter who tell their stories interchangeably chapter by chapter. I thought their voices similar in the book, and sometimes confusing as the chapters changed; however, a worthwhile read to get to the end.

I am pro-adoption; I have three siblings who have adopted children; I have always urged others to consider it as a solution to infertility. Reading this b
Jan 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book was included on an SD card I got as a bonus with my Nook. Otherwise I doubt I would have picked it up. I am an adopted woman, and echoing other reviewers I almost think one needs to have a personal experience with adoption to understand or appreciate the book. I did enjoy the idea of the birthmother and biodaughter alternatively writing (narrating) the story. Overall I found it touching and compelling in the same way that Dr. Seuss' "Are You My Mother" was touching to me as a child. Nu ...more
Jan 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Jessica Lost is told in the alternating voices of Bunny, who gave birth to Jessica in 1947, and Jil (originally named Jessica), The Baby, as Bunny always thought of her, the 42-year-old woman who seeks for her birth parents. It was heart wrenching and riveting. And also something more for me as an adult adoptee and adoptive mother. The idea of the shadow life hit home, as did this sentence from the last chapter written by Jil: "Our lives... were marked by adoption. She lived with the shame of wh ...more
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I am not usually so generous w my ratings but being an adoptive mother this book means a lot to me. Both women's experiences resonate w me. I talk to my son all the time about being adopted and he can recite his adoption story - but to Jil's point, he doesn't know anything else and probably doesn't know that not everyone is adopted. It's important too to remember that although adoption evokes a lot of love we have to be mindful that there is the other side of the story that cannot be ignored -lo ...more
Nov 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
My only struggle with this book was that it was sometimes difficult for me to keep the two different story lines straight. Written by Jil (an adult adoptee) and Bunny (Jil's birth mother), the chapters alternate. Both are talented writers and, from time to time, I'd find myself reading a chapter and thinking,"Wait. Jil got divorced? No, let me see. Ohhh, this is Bunny's chapter."

Besides that, I found it fascinating to read Jil and Bunny's life stories side by side, especially since the birth mot
May 26, 2011 rated it liked it
This book offered an interesting perspective on adoption - not one I necessarily expected. The adopted mother was viewed so negatively throughout the story that it made me want to hear her side of the story. I was also a little shocked at the repeated reminder by the birth mother than adoption was NOT necessarily a better option than abortion...it was a valid point, the way she explained it, but it definitely opened my eyes to some aspects of adoption I had never considered before.
Jan 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Jil Picariello always knew that she was adopted, and when she was in her forties, she found her birth mother, Faith "Bunny" Crumpacker. In this biography, both Jil and Bunny tell their stories. It gives an interesting picture of adoption in the 50's, but the story starts to drag near the end. Also, once Jil meets and befriends her birth mother, her attitude toward her adoptive mother seems to become much more negative. ...more
Rebecca Sandham Mathwin
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Compelling joint memoir written by a birth mother and the daughter she gave away for adoption. Smart, honest and touching in addition to being a quick read. I really liked how the chapters were structured with each woman alternatively telling her story. I also appreciated that there were plenty of photos of the women and their families (I like to see what people look like). One of the best memoirs I've read in quite some time. ...more
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed and definitely didn't like this book. Bunny and Jil, the daughter she gave away and found 40 years later through searches on both sides, seem self-absorbed and mostly interested in how much alike they are. Jil attaches herself to her birth-mother's ex-husband, only to find out later that her birth father is a famous writer who really isn't that interested in her. The political statements at the end were a real turnoff. ...more
Mar 10, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011-books
A wish we could give half stars..I would rate this one at 3 1/2. A powerful story of a biological mom and her daughter that she put up for adoption. I didn't give it 4 stars because at times it was hard to remember who was writing. The story is written from both the mother and daughters point of view and their writting styles are very similiar.

Worth the time to read it...
Jezebel Parks
Mar 13, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: reviewed
I tried so hard to love this book, but it just wasn't meant to be. It was a very slow start, and I barely got into it at all. The fact that the chapters are written from different points of view threw me off to the point where I couldn't tell who was talking at times. I couldn't finish this. It looks like a short read, but it's so boring that it feels three times as long. ...more
Feb 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
I thought this was an extraordinary story. I loved how the birth mother and adoptee daughter alternated the storytelling from chapter to chapter. I even felt empathy for the adopted mother, who wanted children so badly and yet, was unable to truly accept the blessings of the children she adopted. I would have loved to read her 'side' of the story. ...more
Nikki Myers
Feb 29, 2012 rated it liked it
It was okay! I'm always interested in the nature vs. nurture side of humans. Its intriguing that you can be so much like someone you never met. And is interesting how a mom can come to the decision to give a child away. I may go back and reread the part on how exactly she found her bio-parents. It just so happens that I'm adopted also and 40. It was a nice book to add to my read list! ...more
May 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-biography
A woman decides to find her birth parents in her 40's. The journey leads her down a path that is joyful and sad. She finds a very good connection with her birth mother, but discovers some confusion about her birth father. Things did not work out as hoped. In the process, she discusses what she thinks about her mother, her birth mother and the mother she is. How all of this affected her. ...more
Diana Vuiller
Apr 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Adoption stories are all different.,.theres no right or wrong way to ones feelings. This book was amazingly truthful & hard to read at times, but that's how most of everyone's lives are. I enjoyed the honesty of both women's views of their lives. Would recommend...and I'm not adopted nor given a child up for adoption. ...more
Kinyorda Sliwiak
Oct 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very creative format. It is interesting how similar the birth mother and adopted daughter's lives are even though they are apart for so many years. A little slow in the beginning when they are giving the background info and would have liked more information on their lives as adults towards the end but overall a good read. ...more
I got this awhile back from Goodreads First Reads. I had to keep picking it up and putting it back down again. Nothing about it really drew me in and after months I still havent brought myself to finish it. Maybe others can find more enjoyment in this book, but I cannot.
Jun 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookclub
Being an adoptive mom, I really enjoyed both the perspective of the adopted child and the birth mother. Very well written, and even suspenseful. It's sad how secretive and somewhat damaging closed adoptions used to be, and I'm glad they have gotten much more open. ...more
Melissa Stickney
Aug 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Birth mother/ reunited daughter autobiography. Well written if you read through all of Jill's, then all of Bunny's chapters. If you have a connection to adoption, I would recommend it. A mostly happy story. ...more
Nov 30, 2011 rated it liked it
I liked the book, and no I am not adopted, or have I given up a child. The story seemed from the soul, and I can see how these events have lasting effect.
I found it a good quick read, and I too at times had to check to see who the chapter was from
Dec 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
This was a little slow, though it picked up once Bunny gave up her baby for adoption. There was nothing really wrong with it, it just took longer to read than I wanted it to and wasn't as good as I had hoped. ...more
Apr 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
A story of adoption told from the point of views of the "baby" and birth mother. This was a freebie on my nook, so I read it...and enjoyed it. It's written in a journal type manner and it was easy to emphathize with all parties. ...more
Very good. The mother and daughter alternate chapters, which was effective, but a little confusing at times. I love the story. Both mother and daughter write very well. The book was moving, but probably not as much so as Following the Tambourine Man, which had a lot of similarities.
Mar 17, 2011 marked it as to-read
Thank you Goodreads First Reads for this free book. Looking forward to reading it when I get it.
May 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
A compelling memoir about adoption - from the perspective of both the birth mother and the daughter.
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