Time for Book Club! This month our friend Rachel from Utah reviewed the book. Here's what she thought about the memoir...
You Carried Me: A Daughter's Memoir by Melissa Ohden
Reviewed by Rachel Holdaway
“This is the story of how I died.” This opening line from Disney’s Tangled could appropriately be the opening line of Melissa Ohden’s autobiography You Carried Me. The book follows Melissa’s relentless and courageous search for her biological parents and the truth surrounding her birth - and the failed abortion that was intended to take her life.
Melissa was placed for adoption in a loving family as an infant. Growing up, she never knew her birth parents or the circumstances surrounding her adoption. When she was 14, she found out part of the truth; she was the survivor of a failed abortion. Learning that truth about herself led her to search for answers. Why had her parents attempted to abort her? Were there other factors in their decision? What could she learn about herself by learning about them?
The 178-page book reads like a private-eye novel as Melissa follows clues that lead her closer to the identity of her birth parents and the incredible truth about her origins. As the saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction. The details she uncovers make for a riveting story and an ending no one could foresee. But I’ll let you discover all of that yourself.
I love several aspects of Melissa and her story, but one character trait that stands out is her resilience. As she learns more about her beginnings and the tragic circumstances surrounding it, she allows what she learns to develop a passion for helping others affected by those same issues. When she could easily become disillusioned, hardened, and bitter, she instead chooses to adapt, love, and forgive. Melissa is using the pain she and her birth family experienced to bring beauty and healing to the lives of others. In her book, Melissa expresses the message she shares: “God’s grace has transformed my anger to grief, for myself and for the woman who had carried me. For me, grief led to forgiveness, and its fruit has been love... I don’t hide my scars anymore, but wear them proudly, for they are a sign that God heals.”
I do wish the book gave a bit more information on Melissa’s adoptive parents and their part in her unfolding story. After describing the loving childhood they gave Melissa and her siblings and telling us that they were supportive of Melissa’s initial search for her biological parents, Melissa tells us very little about them. They seem like people I would want to meet; they certainly gave Melissa and her sister Tammy (who was also adopted) a positive outlook on being adopted. Melissa shares that her adoptive parents taught her she was “doubly loved.” Loved by them, who had chosen her to be their daughter, and loved by the mother who carried and gave birth to her, then allowed her to be placed in their care.
The heart of Melissa’s story is embracing circumstances you can’t change and finding the beauty within them.
Following along her journey from anger and confusion to love and forgiveness will change the way you look at life. Her story is a powerful reminder that we are all, as Melissa says, “influenced by our beginnings” - influenced, but not defined. Melissa found beauty and meaning in her personal struggles as she searched for her birth parents. She came to realize, in her own words, “My true identity didn’t come from my birth parents, but from my Creator. I was a child of God, and that meant I was never - not even for a second - unwanted.”
No matter the circumstances under which our lives began, we all can choose to find beauty and meaning in the story that’s been given to us. The journey we take as we find it, with all its ups and downs, is often the most beautiful part of all.
Want to join the BraveLove Book Club? It's easy. Here's how.
Read the books we're reading at any time, then leave your comments below on the respective post. So if you've read You Carried Me, comment below. Click on the "Book Club" tag below to see what other books we've read. Typically we read a new book every 4-6 weeks. If you have a good book you'd like to read or review, contact us. We'd love for you to join the Club and read with us.
What book are we reading next?
The Waiting by Cathy Lagrow. Order online here. Then finish the book by the end of June!