Hello everyone! Today I’m reviewing Fixing the Fates by Diane Dewey and Finding the Wild Inside by Marilyn Kay Hagar.
I was sent both of these books free for review purposes from JKS Communications, as was Wise Millennial previously. Just like that review, the fact that it was sent to me does not influence my review in any way, and all thoughts are my own.
Fixing the Fates by Diane Dewey
About the book
Fixing the Fates is a memoir by Diane Dewey. Dewey was adopted from Germany by an American couple and the memoir focuses on her life once she is contacted by her birth father, woven in with aspects of her life since her adoption. Throughout, Dewey also contemplates how deeply her adoption truly affected her and how her reconnection with her birth father continues to shape her.
Diane Dewey started her story with a visit to her mother which would set off the entire premise of the book. During her visit, Dewey’s mother gives her a letter which starts her contact with her biological father. Throughout the book Dewey looks back on her life as an adoptee and her past attempts to find out more about her past, while unraveling her previously unknown history.
I found Dewey to be very calm and level-headed throughout her story. Overall, I liked how she handled everything that was thrown her way. Even when her mother was freaking out that Dewey had obtained her birth certificate, Dewey remained calm and explained that it was within her legal right to have it. It seems a lot of the story really only could have occurred due to her persistence, thoughtfulness, and respect for everyone involved. There were moments when I felt she could have stood up for herself a bit more but it was a hard situation to try to navigate without a ton of help. That’s why when Dewey revealed she had has switched careers, from working in art galleries to working with adopted children, I was really happy for her and adopted children everywhere. From what her book reveals about her character and passion, I’d say it’s the perfect career for her!
I have to say, the writing style was not my favorite. It wasn’t at all bad, she was a very good writer and story teller but, for me, it felt too much as if Dewey was rambling her thoughts rather than just getting to the point. Of course, since this was her actual story, I’m sure she added as many details as she did in order to make it as realistic as possible and so we would really understand what she was going through. However, I felt a lot of the points were redundant and that maybe a few shorter reminders would have sufficed. Even if I thought she was repeating the same topics, it was really important to have in order for the reader to really understand just how frustrated she became at times. For example, there were times when her birth father would tell the story in a different way than the events transpired, and Dewey seemed to reference various times when this happened. For the reader, I think a few times would have been sufficient but this showed this was huge pain point for her, I understood why she included it.
I did enjoy that the memoir did include such a wide range of events of her life. Dewey also speaks about her divorce which occurred before the book took place and later she covered her new marriage. She also included some of her interactions with her friends, who didn’t always understand her desire to uncover more about her origins, and some of her thoughts on what that would be. She even her relationship with several cousins through her adopted family and how her relationship grew with her biological family as well. She very throughly covers her journey as she reconnects with her biological father and discovers a whole new family to get to know.
I also really enjoyed how she was so open and honest about how she felt her closed adoption affected her, positively and negatively. Dewey was clear that she loved her parents and thought they truly believed they were doing what was best for her by keeping as much information from her as possible about her adoption. Clearly she knew a lot as she was able to pinpoint books and research that she’d found that showed how these thoughts changed in the psychology field overtime. However, she didn’t shy away from openly saying that she felt that growing up knowing her birth family had placed her for adoption had affected her and made her think she wasn’t wanted or different.
Overall, I wish I had read this book earlier because I had a friend in college who was adopted. I didn’t understand her fascination with her biological family and while I always tried to be supportive of her curiosity I really understand so much more why she felt that way now. I don’t want to say much more on that because we grew apart and I want to respect her privacy on her story but reading Dewey’s story was really eye-opening for me.
I did rate Fixing the Fates four out of five stars. I really learned a ton and I did enjoy reading Dewey’s journey. Like I said though, some of it was too repetitive for me, but it did have a purpose so I can’t say it was not helpful to the story, it just wasn’t my taste necessarily.
Finding the Wild Inside by Marilyn Kay Hagar
About the book
I received an advance reader copy (ARC) of this book, which is really cool! This book will be published October 2019.
Finding the Wild Inside is meant to be an art therapy book, a self-help guide to foster inner creativity. The book is split into three sections which correspond to the usual three life stages of youth, midlife, and then elderly life for Hagar’s life. Each section had many chapters focusing on different aspects of life within the corresponding stage. Furthermore, each chapter had a reflection prompt and instructions for an art piece that corresponded with the message of that chapter. Throughout the book Hagar also shares some of her own art that she created during those times in her life and the significance of the piece to her.
When I got the email about the book I was intrigued as I didn’t think I’d read anything like it before. It was very different indeed! I don’t read a ton of self help books to begin with and this one was just a whole different lifestyle than what I would read.
I did enjoy the book more as it went on. I’ll admit, I found the first section on Hagar’s youth to be a little annoying because she was very judgmental of how her parents raised her, which I found surprising. She would comment a lot on how she felt that her parent’s stifled her creativity or how they stifled their own which then showed her to do the same to herself. Then she would comment on how she wished they’d raised her which was just a little awkward as she was so critical about it. Of course, it was easy to see and agree with her how she needed different parenting at times, since she was clearly more sensitive than her parents but there were some stories that didn’t fully make sense to me. For example, there a part where she was talking about a dream she had that strongly affected her and how she wished her parents had chosen to go along with her dream rather than tell her it wasn’t real so she could feel comforted. It seemed a little counter-intuitive but since she held onto those feelings for so long maybe she wouldn’t have been so fixated on it if there had been a different reaction. Even so, it was weird to read how sharp her criticism was of how her parents and extended family members raised her.
As she moved into her adulthood I did like it more. She spoke about how she chose to focus on self-discovery and focus on living her best life, which was very cool to see her reach that conclusion. She did a lot of reflecting on her marriage as well as some regarding her children or her siblings. The parts I found the most interesting, however, was her chapters about caring for her elderly parents. As many of you know I’m quite close to my parents so I really appreciated the frankness of her writing with how caring for her parents and watching them get older affected her. My parents aren’t anywhere near that stage of their lives but it was really interesting to hear Hagar’s experience and try to learn from that.
Hagar’s artwork is also featured in the book. While some of the art was a little, um, shocking in terms of nudity, but it was really cool to see the art and hear the story for it. Hagar shared the symbolism for each piece of art and they normally corresponded to the story she was telling as she would add paintings she’d done at the time that the events were occurring. I also liked that she would not only explain the meanings of the paintings at the time she painted them but also what she felt of them in present day.
Overall, I think the book offered some great lessons on self-discovery and really promoted getting out of your comfort zone, but it was a bit too on the “spiritual” side for me. I did enjoy her story, as I said, but the criticism of how others chose to live their own lives was quite prominent and strong. Since I was reading the book rather fast in order to review it before next month, I didn’t do any of the art prompts but I do wish I’d done a few just for fun so I might try those later! I did give the book four out of five stars as I did like it and it was really interesting, but it’s just not one of my favorites. I also think that perhaps I wasn’t quite the intended audience for it but even so it was fun to get through!
So those are my reviews for Fixing the Fates by Diane Dewey and Finding the Wild Inside by Marilyn Kay Hagar. Did these books interest you at all? Let me know!
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