The Language of Blood

In a frank, poetic style, Jane Jeong Trenka shares the saga of her life. At the painful center of her experience is the adoption that brought her from a volatile life in Korea to a wholesome adoptive family in small-town Minnesota. Yet dark and dangerous resentments run below the surface in this writer. Part of a wave of 150,000 to 200,000 Koreans who ended up with new American names and lives, Trenka has written one of the most circumspect--and also just pissed-off--books on international adoption. (One wonders if her memoir will reach the parents who are today engaged in a wave of adoptions from China.) Should she lay into her own parents for never wanting to visit the nation of her birth? And if she does, can she still complain that today's more sensitive adoptive parents are just engaging in something akin to cultural tourism? Ultimately, the author seems unsure how to balance her own biographical account sheet: "Would I rather have not been adopted?" she writes. "I don't know...How can I weigh the loss of my language and culture against the freedom that America has to offer, the opportunity to have the same rights as a man?...How many educational opportunities must I mark on my tally sheet before I can say it was worth losing my mother?" It's a credit to this probing book that Trenka never comes up with a simple answer.


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