Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday Salon: Review: Lucky Girl by Mei-Ling Hopgood

Lucky Girl is a a memoir by Mei-Ling Hopgood, a Tawain born girl child who was given up to be adopted by an American couple living just outside of Detroit. This might not seem like such an unusual story but given that Hopgood was adopted in 1974, it is a story from the infancy of international adoptions. Not only was Hopgood among the first children adopted from outside the country, but her circumstances were incredibly unusual as well. As an adult, she was given the unique experience of not only reconnecting with her birth family, but being embraced as the lucky daughter adopted out and embraced again with open arms. The memoir itself talks of Hopgood's growing up as the oldest child (her parents later adopted two younger brothers from Korea as well) in the blue-collar Detroit suburb of Dearborn. She mentions but doesn't focus much on the fact that she and her parents were so obviously of different races and perhaps she didn't experience much racism at all, although she speaks of her desire to distance herself from anything Asian. As she scrolls through her memories of childhood and adolescence, she also writes of her almost unintentional discovery of the family she left behind, a family who didn't quite match her imaginings. Over time, and with the blessing of her parents, she visits and comes to know her birth family: the sisters who were not given away, the brother adopted in when no boy was born and lived, and the other sister who was given away as well. Hopgood was very blessed in the parents who adopted her, especially when she was coming to terms with being the "discarded" child trying to understand how her birth family could possibly make that decision. She must wrestle with not only trying to understand a decision that was decades old, but also with the understanding of who these biological family members were and are now. There has certainly been enough in her life that could make her uncomfortable in her own skin, but with the loving grounding of her atill somewhat awkwardly integrated family, it would seem, in the end that Hopgood has come to forgiveness and a peace about the lucky path her life traveled.

I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir and the look at what an adopted child must feel when faced with the large and boisterous family Hopgood found. Having lived outside of Detroit myself, I was familiar with the landscape of her childhood and found the common ground there to give me just that extra bit of joy at the recognition of schools and places. I'm certain that Hopgood censored some of her feelings a bit out of courtesy towards family members but overall this was an interesting look into a very complicated situation that is probably going to become more common as today's international adoptees grow older. Recommended. My thanks to the lovely folks at Algonquin Books for the chance to read the Advanced Reader's Copy.


  1. This sounds interesting.. Enjoy your week! :)

  2. "especially when she was coming to terms with being the "discarded" child trying to understand how her birth family could possibly make that decision"

    I am going to disagree. I received an advance copy of it. Mei-Ling barely touched on it. It's there, but it just ends there; she doesn't explore it or express anything regarding it in-depth.


    Even when it is revealed that Min-Wei was almost surrendered to the Hopgoods as well, all she says is, "Interesting."

    That's it. Mei-Ling herself narrates that she wonders how Min-Wei is handling it aside from that one word, but then goes on to say "Well it happened in the past and you can't change the past, so no point in dwelling on it."


    It's not that I "expected" to find Mei-Ling dwelling over it all the time. But I got the distinct impression she felt it just wasn't significant enough to explore, and that irritated me.

    Anyway, I'll shut up now before I spoil anything else. I liked her book, it gave me valuable insight as well, but I didn't agree with some aspects of it.


I have had to disable the anonymous comment option to cut down on the spam and I apologize to those of you for whom this makes commenting a chore. I hope you'll still opt to leave me your thoughts. I love to hear what you think, especially so I know I'm not just whistling into the wind here at my computer.

Popular Posts