Book Review: Disrupted Lives
Published By: Eloquent Books
Publication Date: April 2011
Page Count: 246
Source: Provided by Elizabeth Kolodziej for Blog Tour
Disrupted Lives was such a pleasant deviation from the YA books I had been reading lately. The story focuses on how family secrets can cause pain, but ultimately they shape the people we become. Our upbringings and families certainly influence our actions, but sometimes they are also the catalyst that provides the courage to turn down a path less traveled.
This novel focuses on four main plot strands. The first discusses the arranged marriage of Sterling and Fiona. Both hail from prominent southern families who are seeking to increase their power and wealth by merging. While Sterling and Fiona aren't thrilled to be marrying someone they did not choose, they soon find that over time love can grow in the most unlikely of places. Fiona will rule her family with an iron fist and her choices as an old school southern mistress lead her children to scatter. Her favorite son, Chad, will become a lawyer who defends the rights of African Americans in a time period where there wasn't always an acceptable career for a southern white man. He will further alienate his mother by choosing to marry a woman who did not grow up in the high ranks of Georgia society.
The other plot strands focus upon Chad's marriage and the adoption of his son, Ben. The adoption occurs because the Lakes believe that they cannot have children of their own, but soon after they bring their adopted son home, Lori finds out she is expecting. Despite Lori and Chad's attempts to make sure that Ben is treated no differently than their biological children, this is not always what happens. My heart broke for Ben as he had to deal with his grandmother and feeling like he didn't belong within his own family. I was so frustrated with his parents for allowing things to progress to such extreme levels. The remaining two strands focus on Ben's birth parents and Ben's adult life.
I was originally drawn to this book because portions of the story were set in Georgia. I lived in Georgia for most of my life and have always been drawn to stories set in my former home. It was nice to bring a little of that setting into the Pacific Northwest to keep me company as the skies turned gray and the rain threatens to begin its descent. I feel that Youngerman did a good job of capturing glimpses of southern culture throughout the decades she covered. It was nice to see things come full circle with the marriage of Prudence. I felt this was a nice symbolic touch to illustrate how the south has grown and changed since the early 1900's.
These characters get under your skin - both in good ways and in bad. I found myself thinking of them and their situations even when I was not reading. My heart broke for Ben, Darren, and Amelia. In the end, I feel like everything worked out as it should, but it was hard to see their pain and struggles. Families are messy and complicated beasts. We all have to struggle with finding where we fit within familial structures and Youngerman does a nice job of showcasing that for readers. This book truly makes you think. As someone who is considering adoption, I hope that my child would never be made to feel the way Ben does as a child. As a mother, I don't think I could handle someone putting pain like that upon my child's shoulders. I was so upset that Lori didn't fight harder for her son. I feel like she truly let him down.
However, this book is not written in a traditional format. There wasn't a linear plot. This felt more like a character study or a collection of short stories. I feel that this book could have easily become one of my favorites if there had been more connecting plot pieces. I also was frustrated that a vast amount of this book was told through dialogue. I don't need a book jam packed with descriptions, but I would have liked a bit more balance between the telling and the showing. In addition, there were a few minor typos here and there.
One Last Gripe: I was so frustrated with Archie at the end of the book. I wanted to reach into the pages and shake him. It was also so hard for me to understand the choices Amelia's parents made.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: Watching Ben's life from beginning to adulthood
First Sentence: Amelia woke with a start, unsure of her surroundings.
Favorite Character: Ben
Least Favorite Character: Fiona
A name does not make a person, a person makes a name.
Such is the theme of Disrupted Lives, the story of how one adopted child touches and intersects with many lives, but ends up destroying one family name, while building another family's legacy.
Darren and Amelia Kane were high school sweethearts torn apart by war. They reunite and discover that they both must put their nightmares behind them to build a life together. Betrayed by her parents, Amelia was earlier forced to give up their child.
Fiona Porter and Sterling Lake are thrown together as part of a business proposition. They end up surprising both their families by enriching the Lake empire and family name. The Lakes become synonymous with society, power and money, and their children must carry that torch forward at all cost. When an adopted grandchild is brought into the family, he questions the definition of "family."
From 1920 to present-day Georgia, this saga of family secrets and old Southern prejudices are explored in the explosive novel Disrupted Lives.