Monday, November 10, 2008

Forever Lily

A lady in the US accompanies her friend to China when she (the friend) goes there to pick up a baby that she has decided to adopt. In China, the friend suddenly decides to back out of this plan because she doesn’t feel the way she expected to feel towards the baby. Meanwhile, a strange thing happens. The lady (our protagonist) starts experiencing a strange set of dreams. What is fascinating is that her dreams are continuous. The story pauses when she wakes up and resumes when she goes back to sleep. So, effectively, she is almost leading two lives – one during the day as a lady accompanying her friend to China to help her adopt a baby there. The other life is her dream-life whenever she dozes. In this, she’s a Chinese woman in Imperial China. The king is attracted to her and decides to make her the mother of the heir to his throne. She however has a child with someone else and is forced to give the baby girl away before the king finds out that she has not been loyal to him.
 Our protagonist suddenly realizes that the dream is nothing but her own story in a different lifetime and that she is actually getting a chance to make up for having had to give away a daughter in her previous life. She is aided in her realization by a psychic who is in America but can “sense” that the baby is hers and that she has to take it. To strengthen the aid, random people pop out of the blue and tell her how she and the baby were meant to be together. Eventually, the friend hands over the baby to our protagonist and they both return to the US to live their happy lives.

I must say that this is a pretty interesting tale and I definitely enjoyed reading it. Here’s the part that I found hard to accept – this is not a fiction. This is a memoir! Yes! Beth Russell, who accompanied her friend Alex to China, brought back her baby Lily after realizing that she was meant to have this baby as a result of the happenings in her previous birth. Am I the only one having a tough time dealing with this? I have never felt the urge to discuss anything personal about the author in relation with the book until this. But when the book happens to be a memoir, I am not left with any option. I read the entire book in disbelief. Was she serious? Did she actually have one long story broken up into dreams for every night? It almost felt like episodes of a TV show that airs every time she falls asleep (or sometimes, even just closes her eyes to meditate). The whole thing seemed too story like for me to accept it as a true life story.

At the risk of offending the author and anyone who happens to accept this memoir for what it is, I HAVE to say that I had too many issues with the story line. I can understand Alex’s nervousness when she is handed the baby in China. You can plan to adopt a baby and think about it for years, and do all the paper work, etc – but somehow, nothing is as real as actually carrying the baby in your own arms! I would be scared.

Somehow, I felt that Beth made no attempt to assuage her fears about adopting the baby and rather promptly announced that if Alex didn’t need the baby, she would take it! And then she proceeds to bond with the baby. When Alex has doubts about giving it away, Beth allows her to bond with the baby but makes no effort to hide the fact that she is upset that Alex might change her mind! To top that, the whole dream sequence feels like something straight out of a Bollywood movie. For the uninitiated, “Bollywood” refers to the thriving film industry of India “Bollywood” actually just stands for “Hollywood of Bombay”. Many bollywood movies, much to our amusement, deal with re-births and fantasy tales not too different from what I described above as Beth’s memoir. After having mocked such insane story lines throughout my life, I find it very hard to be able to accept something like this as a memoir. I cannot be more honest here. This is just my view! To me, it felt like the dreams were Beth’s way of convincing herself and Alex that she was actually meant to be with Lily.

Well, here’s the deal. Beth is a good writer. I liked her style of writing and enjoyed the book. If it were a fiction novel, I would have even praised it and recommended it to everyone who is actually reading this post. But unfortunately, the only issue that I have with this book is a big one. It is a memoir and I cannot understand how it can be one!

One thing I must mention though is the fact that I absolutely loved the cover of this book - the white motifs on those tiny blue shoes in the palms of an adult - fascinating picture and very very appealing. Someone please tell me that it is not actually a memoir and I will feel so much better!

If you have read this book and completely disagree with me, I would love to hear your views. Agree with me? Please tell me that I am not the only one to feel this way!Haven’t read this book? What do you think? Would you want to give this a shot? What are your reactions to this review? 


Serena said...

This book sounds like it has an interesting premise. I hope that the storyline is not as troubling as you say, my cousin would probably enjoy this memoir...she has two adopted children from China.

Dar said...

Truthfully as I was reading your review I thought wow this sounds great-as a piece of fiction. Then you said it was real. Not sure if I buy into that either from what you've said. I guess one would need to read it for themselves to form a true opinion. I had never heard of this book either-where do you find your books. You read some of the most interesting and different stuff I have seen. I do however agree on this cover - I think it's absolutely gorgeous.

softdrink said...

I'm with you...I don't think I could take it seriously.

Anna said...

I recently received this book, but I haven't read it yet. I'll let you know what I think about the memoir aspect when I'm done. I won't get to this book until next month, though.

Diary of an Eccentric

Ramya said...

@serena - I really think that the parts about child adoption from China are authentic. I only had issues with the dream sequence from another life. i just don't believe in that kinda stuff..

@dar - isn't it a fascinating plot for a fiction? i would have definitely liked the book if it was fiction. I got a review copy of this book from Bostick communications. I only request for books i find interesting. I find it hard to read books that don't appeal to me:)

@softdrink - well, maybe this whole thing is true but somehow i just find that hard to accept. esp knowing how hard it is to recollect a dream once you wake up i have issues understanding the clarity with which she dreams up the sequence!

@anna - i shall wait for you to be done with this book. I'd be interested in seeing what you thought of it!

S. Krishna said...

Wow, I totally agree with you...maybe someone should novelize the plot of Om Shanti Om :-)

I think this would work well as a piece of fiction. But I actually believe in reincarnation and still would have trouble with this.

Ramya said...

swapna! lol.. i thought of Om Shanti Om when i read this!(hence my reference to bollywood movies!)..:) it would have been a great fiction book.. but the trouble is that it is not!

Nymeth said...

"Am I the only one having a tough time dealing with this?"

Nope! I think this would be a bit too much for me too. I'm all for suspension of disbelief, but when something is presented as non-fiction, the author is the one who is setting some limits.

Priya Iyer said...

i haven't read this book, but,yes, it does sound like fiction to me too. typical om shanti om style. :) would like to give it a shot sometime. and yes, i loved the cover too. it is adorable! :)

Trish said...

Sounds like how I felt about A Million Little Pieces--trying to separate fact from fiction and trying to separate the book from the author. I've heard some of the same criticisms about this book--one interesting one from a lady who actually adopted her daughter from China. It sounds like it could have been a really fascinating book but maybe just not written in the best style.

Veens said...

Well, can't comment on this w/o reading!

But it seems to be popular belief!

Ramya said...

@nymeth - i agree. I felt like I was slandering the author but then realized that by writing a book about yourself, you are opening your life to review and comments!

@priya - you should definitely give it a shot sometime. you might end up liking it way more than i did.. sorry but no mush for you here;)

@trish - i read million little pieces a while ago. even though parts of the book were fabricated, i still liked the message that came across. it should how bad addiction can be and then it always showed that there's always hope..for anyone!

@veens - popular belief? what do you mean? the rebirth thing or the possibility of having dreams like her? i didnt get you..

Priya Iyer said...

why do you think so? :O too many unrealistic stories i read? :P

Lotus Reads said...

This is going to be my next read...I'll have more to say after I read the book so look out for a comment or two. Thanks for the review!