Acquired Book By: In  I crossed paths with Sandra Danby – as I originally found her debut novel “Ignoring Gravity” as part of a pitched book to be published via the publishing platform BNB or Britian’s Next Bestseller. Shortly thereafter, our paths crossed via Twitter and we connected as writer and book blogger. I was meant to showcase ‘Ignoring Gravity” closer to the time I received the book, however, I was delayed due to personal and health reasons until this Spring 2018. Therefore, I received a complimentary (original) copy of “Ignoring Gravity” direct from the author Sandra Danby in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. By ‘original’, I refer to the fact my edition has the original cover art for the novel.
a word about ‘waiting on Wednesday’:
I have decided to start participating in this book blogsphere meme with a few small changes of how it’s regularly blogged about by my fellow book bloggers. I will either be introducing my current reads of upcoming releases as I am in the process of reading them and/or I might be releasing a book review about a forthcoming title by which I had been blessed to read ahead of publication. The main purpose behind the meme is to encourage readers and your fellow book bloggers to become aware of new books being released which caught your eye and which held your interest to read. Sometimes if your still in the process of reading the books, its the titles which encouraged your bookish heart. I look forward to spending the next seasons of the year, talking about the books I have on hand to read, the books I’ve been reading and the books I might not even have a copy to read but which are of wicked sweet interest to become a #nextread of mine.
In celebration for the second installment of the Identity Detectives series releasing on Thursday, I wanted to take a moment to share my musings about the first novel: Ignoring Gravity. As most of my readers are aware of – I’m a Prospective Adoptive Mum – who will be adopting out of foster care in the future, which is why there is a focus on adoptive and foster care stories both in Fiction and Non-Fiction throughout Jorie Loves A Story. I have garnished an appreciation from seeing all viewpoints and lifestyles within the parameters of this focus whilst finding the stories themselves are wicked uplifting for their honesty to portray characters with real-world composites in both circumstances and believable outcomes.
In this vein of interest, one thing I am aware of going into Adoption is there is going to come a time in the future of my own adoptive children’s lives where they are going to ask about their past, the family they had to leave and their birth origins. I want to be supportive throughout this process but also, honest about the realities of what they are facing when they try to ‘go back’ to their families. It can honestly go either way – positive or negative, where either the return is reciprocated or it is found unwanted. I’ve kept an eye on these kinds of stories for most of my life – I grew up in a family who was interested in Adoption years ago (in the 80s/90s) however the availability of legally free children is not what it is today (as the laws were changed) – to where I’ve seen both outcomes come alive in documentaries, Unsolved Mysteries (a tv series) and other outlets of exploration – such as the film Philomena.
What I appreciated about finding the Identity Detective series by Ms Danby is how she has dedicated her series to exploring the harder stories – the stories which evoke a longing of finding oneself and the family you’ve never known but with mixed outcomes during the search itself. In essence, she is carving out a footprint of the ‘other side’ of Adoption and placement – where some children as adults are finding their way ‘back to family’ is not quite the path they felt it might be – whether due to lost connections (ie. missing records, or unknown information blockages) or a disinterest on the side of the family (as an example) – there are hidden stories out there which speak to the ‘other side’ of where Adoption stories do not oft tread.
As this series is still underway, I thought it would be a wonderful selection for #WaitingOnWednesday – as this is my first reading of the novel and it has been a pleasure to assemble a few showcases on behalf of the series overall. Aside from this review, please take note of the following dates:
10th May | Connectedness Spotlight with Author Interview
17th May | Author Guest Post and Series Spotlight
Before you read my ruminative thoughts this #WaitingOnWednesday, kindly take a moment to play this lovely book trailer for Ignoring Gravity and gather a proper sense about what this novel explores through it’s dramatic story re-linking lives together and sorting personal identity.
A new meme inspired by Waiting on Wednesday is Can’t Wait Wednesday for which this marks my first #WaitingOnWednesday post I’ve been able to share with the bloggers following this version of the meme hosted by Tressa @ Wishful Endings! (Tressa introduces her meme) Here is the post by which I shared my link. Be sure to find out which book bloggers I visited who helped ADD to my #TBRList by finding my blog hop route below this showcase!!
Rose Haldane is confident about her identity. She pulls the same face as her grandfather when she has to do something she doesn't want to do, she knows her DNA is the same as his Except it isn't: because Rose is adopted and doesn't know it. Ignoring Gravity connects two pairs of sisters separated by a generation of secrets. Finding her mother's lost diaries, Rose begins to understand why she has always seemed the outsider in her family, why she feels so different from her sister Lily. Then just when she thinks there can't be any more secrets...
Places to find the book:
Also by this author: Connectedness
Also in this series: Connectedness
Published by Beulah Press
on 4th December, 2014
Format: Trade Paperback
the Identity Detective series:
Rose Haldane, journalist and identity detective, reunites the people lost through adoption. The stories you don’t see on television shows. The difficult cases. The people who cannot be found, who are thought lost forever. And each new challenge makes Rose re-live her own adoption story, each birth mother and father, adopted child, and adoptive parent she talks to, reminds her of her own birth mother Kate. Each book in the ‘Identity Detective’ series considers the viewpoint of one person trapped in this horrible dilemma. In the first book of the series, Ignoring Gravity, it is Rose’s experience we follow as an adult discovering she was adopted as a baby. Connectedness is the story of a birth mother, her hopes and anxieties, her guilt and fear, and her longing to see her baby again. Sweet Joy, the third novel, will tell the story of a baby abandoned, and how the now elderly woman is desperate to know her story before it is too late.
Ignoring Gravity | No.1
Connectedness | No. 2 | Synopsis → Happy Pub Day, 10th of May, 2018!
Sweet Joy | No. 3 → forthcoming third installment!
Published By: Beulah Press (2014)
Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook
Converse via: #IdentityDetective
on Adoption etc:
As this story is digging into the heart of Adoption both from the standpoint of not realising you were adopted (Rose’s story) and the consideration of why some adopt whereas others are not willing to give up the hope of a natural bourne child – Danby makes a critical case for exploring all facets of the divide from different entrance points and perspectives.
For instance, Lily (Rose’s sister) is aware of the fact others in her situation (a woman who dearly wants to conceive but hasn’t) have turnt to alternative routes to mumhood – some go the IVF route, others go for Adoption – in her particular case, it seemed as if the traditional route was the only one she would accept. Rose on the other hand was entirely blindsided by the news of her Adoption as unfortunately hers was a closed adoption by every definition – including the absence of being told about how and why she was adopted.
My Review of ignoring gravity:
Rose is the kind of journalist you want to have on the job – she keeps her interviewees honest, even if at times when she’s interviewing them, the challenge is maintaining her composure – such as it was when she first met Nick Maddox. There was something different about the bloke – his mannerisms, his approach of response (to her enquiries) and then, of course, there was the slight matter about how she felt a chemical reaction to his presence to where she quite literally felt the whole interview was compromised! The more maddening bit is that her head turnt to mush, her thoughts didn’t fully formulate properly and overall, the interview felt dashed before it began – you felt for her, you truly did – as somehow, how she walked into this office and how she left it were not the two versions of herself she wanted to celebrate.
I had to laugh – as surely anyone who knows anything about sisters knows they are definitely two highly charged individuals at any given moment in time! Meaning, both Rose and Lily have passionate beliefs – they don’t necessarily see eye to eye on half of their interests (mutual or otherwise) but they share a connection nonetheless. You could gather the sense Rose (at times) doesn’t have the patience she ought to have to entertain the notions Lily seems to have rather frequently but in the end, they’re sisters and listening in on her rambling ranting conversations is part of the relationship.
As Lily was growing more concerned about her inability to conceive a child, Rose was attempting to source an assignment which would give her the freedom to switch jobs. There was an incident at her work where I felt she was well within her rights to speak out at the absurdity of what was being discussed – the fact she was backing down to make it right again by doing her bit on the feature felt a bit short-changing as Rose should have buckled down and stood her ground. Though, from her own perspective on the matter, if she had, she wasn’t quite strong enough to deal with the repercussions – especially as she was still questioning the professional review coming her way! The interesting bit though – despite all of this, she was now on the trail of why women like her sister Lily were struggling to conceive – it was plausible it was early menopause which lies in wait for a woman and begins at a time in their life they never expect to be facing ‘the change’. The ages of women going through menopause today earlier than in generations past is increasing – this I know from my own observations by the testimonies and stories circulating in health news outlets. This is when I realised in the context of Ignoring Gravity – how well timed this story was to be published.
Even I could feel the frustration beginning to vent out of Lily was she tried to corner her husband William into a conversation ahead of his rugby match; perhaps not the best timing!? She had something weighing on her heart and mind – something not easily broached into conversation and the horrible part was that she blundered being able to share why it was such a scare for her to admit what was happening with her body and what this could mean for her and William. Where she needed a sounding board she instead received a bloke high-tailing it as fast as he could to the rugby match without too much concern leftover for his wife, who was truly feeling as if a crisis was descending on her shoulders.
Strictly from personal experience – there is nothing to prepare you for closing out a house after a loved one has passed on. Everything feels and smells the same – almost as if they could re-walk through the door at the moment your going through their things, sorting everything out and trying to decide what to keep as a memento of their life. As Lily and Rose started the difficult process of clearing out their Mum’s belongings whilst their father went elsewhere for the day, I could feel their apprehension and their earnest desire to get it done all the same. Of course, it is truly complicated if you start to ‘find things’ amongst the expected items you never felt you’d discover – that’s when it becomes an emotionally gutting period of growth – of recognising not everything can be put to rights before death nor can all secrets let out the truth before a person passes wherein the information between the ‘how and why’ could become lost to time.
Death and loss are eloquently empathsised throughout Ignoring Gravity, especially as both sisters come to terms with what it means not to have their Mum round any longer. It isn’t just the loss of presence or voice, but something more – something I don’t think any of us realise until the day we shift through loss and have to deal with the emotional anguish left behind as we grieve.
Igniting a spiral of epic proportions was the sudden loss of her self-confidence in who she was and who she was intending to be known as – as identity loss arrives in different ways and at different intervals of a person’s life. Rose’s spiral was sparked by the loss of her mother, but it could have occurred at any moment where she would have found the revelation of truth about ‘who’ she was and why she was uniquely ‘different’ within her own family. The harder part though bespeaks of the title ‘Ignoring Gravity’ wherein, you truly do feel as if you’ve exchanged the security of a world weighed by the experiences you’ve invested into your life but when the rug is pulled out from under you, gravity is elusively evasive. You never feel like you can put your feet securely back down on the ground – as what is going to keep you from rising into the atmosphere? It’s an interesting supposition about how we view ourselves and how we indent our impressions about who we are based on what we know or don’t know about our ancestral past.
I think the hardest part about the unresolved ambiguous loss a child would go through as an adult who was adopted without foreknowledge of this fact prior to adulthood – is the total sense of loss in everything they held dear to their life. They second guess everything they ever knew, ever felt or experienced and even if they truly have a family to call ‘home’ because the foundation of their lives were embarked on the wrong footing. They weren’t told their back-history in gradual increments as they were raised nor were they encouraged to learn more as they grew – to where they could process the information and understand the path they walked through Adoption. The saddest part I think is the complete reversal of how they feel – once they were loved and cherished, and now thoughts of being dismissed, abandoned and discarded come to their mind.
At the same time, even if their Adoption had been known, I also know not every adoptive placement works – in the end, sometimes the children who are placed outside their birth families never truly feel they ‘fit’ anywhere else – in an adoptive home, a group home, etc. However, not to be given the option to truly understand who you are as your growing up is short-changing the choices which would have come lateron – of giving the child something to hold onto and then to make a better informed decision later if they wanted to seek out their birth family. I never felt these kinds of secrets would lead anywhere good – they leave too many doors opened, too many ghosts without plausible answers or explanations to re-align with what they remember or never knew.
In this way, I felt Danby did an ace of a job at showcasing what an adult adoptive child would go through as they have to travel through the different stages of grief for the birth family they knew they had to find if only to better understand ‘who’ they are as their self-identity is now hinged on a past history which felt erased, altered and altogether voided from the one they recognised as their own. The pain and the unease of realising those of whom you considered to be your family were keeping something this important from you has to be devastating on several levels — you would have issues trusting anyone afterwards, as how would you assimilate truth from fiction?
The honest reactions by Rose’s family truly hit home how difficult it is to navigate your unknown birth origins but also, how you can destroy the relationships you’ve built thus far along in your life. The emotional wreckage is full force, as the adoptive family feels connected to you as you were there for the whole of your life – til the point you were adopted – in this instance, Rose was adopted as a baby, therefore, her family feels especially attached. Even I felt for her sister, as despite the truth coming out of the past, I did agree – they were still sisters. Sisters who grew side by side, shared everything between them and despite the hurdles in their differences, they still cared madly for each other as ever. You can’t break a bond simply due to a ripple of truth appearing out of nowhere, which is why I was thankful this one course of action in the novel was turning back round for Rose and Lily. They were both strong-willed and strong-minded – yet in the end, it was what they had shared as siblings which reinforced their bond even now.
Her own story is what inspired Rose to become the ‘identity detective’ in the series – as we watch her grow into this new role – her truer calling in life – we start to see how passionate research and a mission of seeking the truth can lead someone to uncovering their gift to the world. As Rose was motivated to learn more about her birth origins, she was also keen on understanding the process adopted children had to go through in order to access their records. I had known up to a certain period of time, most adoptions were private or never recorded. The records for those adoptions are harder to search – in many ways, the passageways of where Rose takes her research is very similar to the routes we take as Ancestry Sleuths when trying to uncover more information about our ancestral origins through genealogy. The work is grueling at times as you do not always receive ‘new’ information or ‘new’ leads but what makes the work worthwhile are the bits you do find and how all of that ties together in the end.
I found this section of the novel the most exciting, as Danby moves back and forth from the diaries Rose and Lily’s Mum left behind to be read in her absence to the database searches to the letters of enquries and all routes in-between you can take as an adoptee to back-trace your origins. Including of course, how sometimes different documents reference different kinds of information – you can definitely see why an ‘identity detective’ is necessary to help shift through the grunt work!
Counter to the pursuit for Rose’s truth about her identity is the truth Lily has been seeking about herself – for her state of mind (in regards to her marriage), her state of health (whether or not she is burdened with early menopause) and her outlook on life – as everything she’s faced has taken it’s toll on her well being. She’s not quite herself, full of doubts and fears – questions which rage in her head at all hours and a nauseating sense she knows more than she realises. Her compelling sub-plot not only re-fuelled the main focus on Rose but anchoured both sisters together in a life altering journey where each of them would emerge out of a cocooned period of self-growth.
The choices both sisters are facing are authentically real and honest to their realities – Danby does a brilliant job at asserting us directly into their lives, to where even at first meeting, we understand their individual needs and why this journey they’ve been cast into is so dearly important for them to take together. This is very much a story about sisters as much as it is about self-reliance, courage to face the past and the unexpected ways your innermost hopes are realised in ordinary hours where you never feel anything extraordinary could happen to you.
This is definitely as series to earmark to read, as we continue inside the footsteps of Danby as she charts her next characters and seeks to expound on the groundwork she’s placed within Ignoring Gravity as a re-examination on adoptive families and the reconstructive work it sometimes take to lead ourselves back to centre – back to where we understand who we are, why we’re here and from whence we came. If all of life is a journey, the hardest part is understanding the process which leads us forward – as not everything can be resolved out of the past but we can choose how the past will affect us in the future or if we can find reconciliation instead of resentment.
Fly in the Ointment:
In regards to language, I was a bit surprised Ignoring Gravity had any strong language within its chapters as honestly, the narrative itself was not just strongly illuminated by the voice of Danby but the weight of her message was already shining without needing anything to blight out the moments with a stronger word sprinkled into the text. The instances of vulgarity are blessedly minor, there are some which struck me as oddly placed but overall, if you overlook the words and dig back into the heart of what is being spoken about in regards to the story itself you can make it through without too much of the unnecessary interference distracting you. I, of course would have preferred this to be a bit cleaner – as like I said, the whole of the novel is writ so strong, those other words weren’t needed.
Until, of course, I reached the last quarter of the novel and my least favourite word is sprinkled so frequently, I skipped a few paragraphs to side-step it all! Honestly! I could do with less, not more! I still stand by my observation the story was strong enough without the explicits – even after a particularly hard truth is revealled for Lily – the higher frequency as not warranted or needed.
On the dramatic story-telling of ms danby:
Interestingly, the way in which we are first stepping into the Identity Detective series is with a birth announcement – as we can hear a child’s first cry and then are immediately removed to a scene where the Identity Detective herself is acting as a replacement journalist for a colleague whilst feeling muddled on the job. We gathered only a few crucial clues about why the knowledge of her Adoption was going to disrupt her cherished balance in life – of how startlingly disruptive this news was going to become for her as we noted her initial reactions to the news itself whilst finding the evidence left behind which spoke of her birth origins. (or at least we feel they are – as the scene shifts) In this way, Ms Danby draws your attention first to the pertinent facts necessary to ascertain the drama revolving round the background of the series – in particular, how Rose fits into the time-line of the series and why she will become rooted as the ‘gateway character’ throughout the series itself.
It is here we start to gather a proper feel for the writer’s style – as her narrative is writ with a different entrance of approach – you feel centred on her characters but in a way that is uniquely delivered to where the narrative doesn’t feel drawn out nor clipped; it has a pace which works with the story-line and a delivery of details which draw your eye into both the foreground and background of Rose’s life which are slowly starting to intersect with each other. In many regards, it keeps the tone critical and the reader has to stay aware of how quickly this story will alter course ever so slightly to draw us further into the heart of why finding out Rose is adopted is an emotionally distressing discovery.
Danby’s narrative evokes a strong exposition about identity and motherhood – how the two are interconnected but also, how a woman’s identity might be co-dependent upon her beliefs and views on motherhood itself – of what stipulates being a ‘Mum’ by definition and by cause – is it strictly through childbirth or is it the action of being a Mum to a child who needs a family (as through Adoption)? How do individual women self-identify their own sense of self whilst cross-referencing their views on womanhood, motherhood and the purpose of their lives? This is partially the juxtaposition Danby explores throughout Ignoring Gravity and I would suspect throughout the entire series overall.
A note Equality in Lit:
As you can gather from my review and the points I was making inside it – this novel broaches a hearty glimpse into the downfalls of closed Adoptions and the secretive ways in which Adoption is withheld from the child who is placed outside their birth family. There is a better way to address these situations and a better way in which to raise an adoptive child with the full benefit of knowing not only their past history but of who they are within the wider scheme of how they view their own self-identity.
Blessedly, since there are a lot of stories like Rose out there, left unsaid or unspoken until a writer steps forward to tell their stories – we have Ms Danby to light the way forward to honour the adoptive process from both sides of the ledger, whilst highlighting the stories which deserve being told due to how important it is to understand all the different avenues of how an adoptive placement can become muddled, complicated or broken apart by secreted lies.
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Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.
I’m a social reader | I tweet as I read
Hallo, Hallo dear #wyrdandwonder lovelies – before I return with gusto into the event, I'm #amreading an emotional drama about #Adoption called Ignoring Gravity (https://t.co/7hUh6RPXIY) which I'll be sharing my ruminative thoughts about lateron this morning! Stay tuned #JLASblog
— Jorie, the Joyful Tweeter 💜🦝 (@joriestory) May 9, 2018