Desert Isle Keeper
What Was Mine
I was intrigued by the synopsis of Helen Klein Ross’ novel What Was Mine from the moment I saw the synopsis. The book itself lived up to my expectations. I read it in just over twenty-four hours, and even now, over a week after finishing it, I find myself thinking of the characters and situations created by the author.
Lucy Wakefield will do anything to have a child. She and her husband tried for years to have a baby, but were unsuccessful. Now, her husband is gone, Lucy feels like a failure and the one thing that would make her feel complete seems to be a physical impossibility. Then, Lucy is faced with an opportunity she simply cannot pass up. She finds a seemingly unattended infant in the isle of a local store. Quickly, she scoops the child up and leaves the store. It only takes a few seconds, but the effects will be felt by countless people for over two decades.
For twenty-one years, Lucy is able to keep her secret from everyone, including the baby she has raised. Mia has grown up believing herself to be Lucy’s daughter, and when, at the age of twenty-one, she learns the truth of her birth and subsequent abduction, she is devastated. She reaches out to her birth family and vows never to speak to Lucy again. Lucy herself is desperate to escape prosecution and flees the country.
This is a complex story, told from numerous points of view. Some people find this type of narrative shift confusing, and there are times when it definitely can be, but in this case, it works well. The author allows us to peek into the lives of a number of people who were affected by Lucy’s actions; her birth parents, Marilyn and John, her sister Cheryl, and Lucy herself. Ms Klein Ross handles everyone’s side of the story with sensitivity and grace, not sugar-coating Lucy’s actions, but not hiding her humanity either. We are able to see everyone as flawed and multi-faceted human beings. This is a novel that clearly illustrates the shades of gray with which we live every day.
I didn’t like all the characters, and Lucy was especially difficult for me to relate to. I can’t imagine ever doing what she did. There were times, quite a lot of them in fact, when she almost seems proud of her actions, pleased to have gotten away with the crime. She rarely stops to consider the pain she caused anyone else. But every so often, she seems to come to her senses. When she is insightful, it’s incredibly poignant. Ms. Klein Ross has definitely created a compelling, if not fully likable character in her.
A large portion of What Was Mine is given to the time immediately following the abduction, and unfortunately, when the end comes, it feels a little bit rushed. It seems as though the author grew concerned about the length of the book and hurried to finish it. I would have liked to see her take her time a bit more, setting the stage for the future of her characters. As it was, I ended up feeling a tiny bit of incompleteness, a real shame when you compare it to my utter fascination with the first ninety percent of the book.