Review / The Diaspora

Book Review | New memoir captures the joys and sorrows of adoption

By JENNIFER GILMORE,  Los Angeles Times   MAY 24, 2015

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Author Jillian Lauren, son Tariku and husband Scott Shriner Robyn Von Swank / Plume

“To be so unwanted and so wanted at the same time can cause a fault line in you,” writes Jillian Lauren of her own experience of being adopted in her superb memoir, “Everything I Ever Wanted.” Lauren, whose bestselling 2010 book, “Some Girls,” chronicles her time in a harem, tracks a very different journey here: the fraught path to motherhood.

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Cover of the book “Everything You Ever Wanted” by Jillian Lauren Plume


Plume: 272 pp., $16 paper

 

Now in a stable marriage to Weezer bassist Scott Shriner, Lauren expects motherhood to “finally unite this duality for me.” When she can’t get pregnant, though, she begins to split apart. She tries most everything to become pregnant: reiki and Kabbalah and colonics, even Maori tribal healers “who happen to be in town right now.”

While she skewers the celebrity-driven and consumerist Southern California culture she indulges in, Lauren also writes darkly and beautifully as well: “This is what happens when you want something so intensely,” she writes. “You lose all your power.” Her longing to be a mother makes her “live with the flutter of failure trapped like a bird under my rib cage all the time.”

Eventually Lauren and Shriner decide on international adoption. That she too is adopted is woven into the fabric of this book: She considers what her mother went through to find her, as well as what her own adopted child will face, making this journey nuanced, complex and self-reflective.

Here is where I should probably note that I have an adopted child. Being a writer and having held my own experience up to so many casts of light, I’m a very difficult nut to crack on the subject. But Lauren cracked me — cracked me up and cracked me open. In a particularly powerful portion of the book, she and her husband travel to Ethiopia with prospective adoptive parents to get their babies. Lauren and Shriner are finally introduced to their child, 11-month-old Tariku, whom they nickname T, in an orphanage. He is in “a puppy pile of adorable babies.”

In a harrowing scene that follows, they meet his birth mother and exchange promises for the future. “The loss in the room — everyone’s — flattens me,” she writes, illuminating what is so often unacknowledged in adoption, which is that most come to the experience with a fair amount of grief.

Read the full book review on Los Angeles Times 

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Copyright © 2015 Los Angeles Times. All rights reserved

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