You Carried Me

Ohden, Melissa. You Carried Me: a Daughter’s Memoir. New York: Plough Publishing House, 2017.

Reason read: an Early Review for LibraryThing (December 2016 batch).

Ohden knew from an early age she was adopted. For anyone, that alone would conjure up questions surrounding identity. How could it not? Add “survivor of botched abortion” to the resume and a whole new set of mysteries emerge. What happened? Did the birth mother not want me? Did my birth father even know about the pregnancy? How could this happen? What started as a series of mysteries when Ohden was 14 turned into a purpose for life as an adult. You Carried Me is Ohden’s attempt to explain the process.

Ohden tells her story at breakneck speed. Eager to get to the heart of the story she glosses over most of her adolescence and is in college before page 50. It’s no secret I had a love-hate relationship with You Carried Me. Even the title caused me some consternation: I read it as “you should feel guilty for trying to abort me; you carried me.” At times I met Ohden’s words with distracted frustration. Ohden speaks in absolutes. For example, she makes assumptions about the nature of mother/newborn bonding. It’s not always an automatic relationship. It’s pretty typical of some mothers to never emotionally attach to her child; despite it being the child she carried for nine months. Strange as it may seem, there are even hospital classes to help some new mothers connect with their infants. Another example: Ohden describes an accident her father had as a teenager and she blames the altering of so many lives on that accident. How does she know? How could she know? I would have been more comfortable with the assumption that the accident could have altered so many lives. Yes, it might have.
One thing is clear. Ohden writes in an unsophisticated but determined and enthusiastic voice (lots of exclamation points!). Her absolutes and assumptions are all her own. It’s a story impossible to put down once started. At only 166 pages it’s easy to read in one sitting. I read it on a lunch break.

Editing question: is Isaac really someone named Nathan?
Copyright question: did Ohden have permission to reprint Kelly Clarkson’s lyrics to “Stronger”?

Book trivia: black and white pictures were included. What a nice surprise.

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