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The Lucky Gourd Shop

By Joanna C. Scott MacMurray & Beck, $25. An adoptive mother imagines her son's birthmother's life.



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In the absence of concrete information about their histories, adoptees sometimes create elaborate fantasies about their birthparents in an effort to answer basic existential questions about themselves. In The Lucky Gourd Shop, however, the fantasy is constructed by an adoptive mother, who weaves a complex history from her adopted son's spare recollection of his past. The result is a heart-breaking, sometimes awkward account of the birthmother's imagined life.

The novel opens with an autobiographical prologue in which Scott and her three teenaged Korean adoptive children read an anxiously awaited letter from Korea. Disappointed that the letter provides no meaningful details about their past, the oldest boy, age 17, begins to reveal long-repressed memories about his childhood, from which the author then constructs the remainder of the novel.

The Lucky Gourd Shop
provides a glimpse into the living conditions and changing social mores of South Korea in the 1980s and gives readers an opportunity to imagine a painful and haunting relinquishment scenario.

By Deann Borshay Liem, a Korean adoptee and filmmaker of the award-winning documentary
First Person Plural.

2001 Adoptive Families Magazine.  Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

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