Ross, Helen Klein. What Was Mine. Gallery. Jan. 2016. 336p. ISBN 9781476732350. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781476732367. F
Lucy has a great job and a fancy apartment in New York City. Twenty-one years ago, she stole a baby from a shopping cart and has lovingly and lavishly raised the child ever since, claiming to everyone, including her daughter, that she was legally adopted. Mia is now finishing college and is very happy with Lucy as her only family. Then a coincidence, and the pervasive reach of social media allows Mia’s birth mother to find her lost child, and life changes irrevocably for everyone involved. Ross’s second novel (after the e-pubbed Making It) is a compelling and moving story that asks many questions about family, love, and justice. It is told from different perspectives, even if some minor characters just get a chapter or a page or two, which highlights how many people the kidnapping has affected. The ending hints at possible forgiveness and redemption. Whether Lucy deserves this or not will give book clubs much fodder for discussion. VERDICT Moving at a hard-to-put-down, breathless pace, this is suspenseful domestic fiction at its best.
Sheehan, Jacqueline. The Center of the World. Kensington. Jan. 2016. 336p. ISBN 9781617738968. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781617738975. F
Best-selling author Sheehan (Lost & Found; Picture This; Now & Then) pens a breathtaking tale in her newest work. Kate Malloy has kept a terrible, heartbreaking secret from her child, Sofia, and Kate’s father, Sam, for years. Sofia, a dynamic, soccer-loving teen, believes she was legally adopted from Mexico by her mother. However, soon after her stepfather dies, Sofia discovers a new story about her childhood. A shocking letter from a lawyer reveals a past filled with war tales, heroic deeds, and a heritage that Sofia unknowingly was forced to leave behind. Kate, in turn, must face chapters of her past that she has fought for years to keep closed. Slowly, mother and daughter work their way back to each other through an epic journey that will change them forever. VERDICT Sheehan’s enthralling novel, through tales of grief and happiness, offers readers a strong sense of catharsis. The author smoothly captures the intricacies of cultural exchange with grace and intersection. Readers who enjoy family dramas, romance, and have a sense of wanderlust will easily fall for this captivating read.