June/July 1998

God Bless the Child

Ellen Feldman
Simon & Schuster, 1998 251pp
ISBN: 0-684-83121-4

review by Harriet Klausner

Be careful what you wish for because one never knows when it is granted. Bailey Bender desperately searches for her son, who she gave up for adoption many years ago. Driven by a compulsion, she needs to find him. However, in spite of her efforts, so far she has come up empty.

Bailey heeds the advice of an investigator, who recommends she check birth records at the New York Public Library. The number on the original birth certificate matches that of the one adoption agency gives to its' clients. However, all does not end well as the name of her son has made the newspaper headlines of a Long Island town. He has been accused of murdering his pregnant girlfriend. Bailey does not know whether she should visit him, but she is well aware that her life will never be the same no matter what she decides.

Ellen Feldman explores life in all its complexities, spanning the range of human emotions so that the audience will feel the soul of each character. God Bless the Child is about choices and how they impact a person's life. It is also about second chances and the hope that, with maturity, people will make peace with their past in order to obtain a better future. Ms. Feldman understands people and is able to brilliantly weave that knowledge into a coherent, fascinating tale about everyday individuals struggling with extraordinary experiences. This novel is a moving story filled with suspense and a maternal love that accepts even as it questions.

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