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Yafi’s Family

By Linda Pettitt with Sharon Darrow $17.95; Amharic Kids

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When we were about halfway through reading Yafi’s Family together, my 13-year-old daughter, Hanna, turned to me and asked, “Is this our story?” It sure felt like it—although the makeup of Yafi’s family is different from ours, his experiences were familiar.

Yafi’s Family describes how Ethiopian-born Yafi came to live in an orphanage after his mother died and his grandmother was no longer able to care for him. It tells of his new sisters’ delight in meeting him—and the challenges that anybody who has adopted an older child can relate to: the inability to communicate in different languages, the sadness and anger that manifest through acting out, the overeating before food insecurity finally fades. It is a charming story, and the illustrations by Jan Spivey Gilchrist are beautiful and lifelike.

And there is a bonus! Melissa Fay Greene introduces the book with the poignant story of her son Jesse’s first glimpse at a photo of his birthmother. Her insightful words about the importance of birth country, birth family, and the path to wholeness are worth the price of Yafi’s Family.

Reviewed by RITA RADOSTITZ, a communications director at the University of Oregon. She lives in Eugene with her twin daughters, adopted from Ethiopia.

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