Author Laura Dennis’ memoir “Adopted Reality” tells the story of how expectations of personal perfection inevitably lead to sorrow and failure.
For Dennis, her sense of self-worth and her desire to maintain unreasonably high standards arise from her feelings about being adopted:
“I hadn’t been wanted, but now I was wanted. The Dennises were my second chance, chosen especially for me. … My child’s mind deduced that the Dennises could also give me away. So I decided to be the Best Child Ever.”
More than a story of adoption, however, this is a story of bipolar disorder. Dennis describes in painful and surprising detail how her mind unraveled as she descended into a manic episode involving hallucinations about being a bionic spy who caused 9/11 and a death-defying escape from a mental hospital.
Part of Dennis’ trip to “crazy town” (her words, not mine) involved her obsession with her dance career and the typical dancer’s compulsion to be thinner. Any woman who has ever felt too fat will be able to relate.
Dennis does an admirable job of describing her adoption experience by giving credit where credit is due without glossing over the pain she felt about being given away. I was brought to tears by her birth mother’s and birth grandfather’s words about their love for her, even in her absence during her childhood, and I was so happy to read how both her mothers supported her through her mental illness. As a stepmother, I related to both of Dennis’ mothers in one way or another.
I appreciated Dennis’ straight-forward writing style and description, but sometimes I felt like she glossed over important details, especially near the end of her story. After her manic episode and diagnosis of bipolar disorder, she announces she quit her medications cold turkey and a chapter later, the story is done. Sanity can’t be that simple. Dennis is otherwise a good storyteller, and I liked the character Dennis created enough to want to hear more of her story.
I have exchanged a couple of emails with Dennis and the existence of the book itself is evidence that Dennis turned out OK.
Anyone who is adopted, a dancer or bipolar and anyone who knows and loves such a person will appreciate “Adopted Reality: A Memoir” for its honesty, drama and ultimately the peace Dennis finds with her adopted reality.
I enjoyed reading this book on my iPad with my Kobo app. The app is free and downloading ebooks is easy at Kobo.com. Kindle is not the only game in town so consider giving Kobo a try (my memoir is available at Kobo, too, and so are thousands of other books from big name publishers and self-published authors). Check it out.