A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt is the story of Simone, a high school junior in a suburb of Boston. Simone has known since she was able to understand words that she was adopted. Her mother is a lawyer with the ACLU and her father is a cartoonist who spends most of his time at home trying out new recipes on his family. Simone has never felt a reason to meet her birth mother. Her history is here with her mother, father, and brother who look nothing like her. Simone has accepted the fact that her biological family tree is bare until her birth mother shows up and sends her life in a different direction.
Simone is bumping along through life – helping her mother canvas for the ACLU, joining the Atheist Student Club to protest a political issue she only just heard about yesterday and still barely understands, studying for SAT’s, dating, partying – when she finds out that her birth mother, Rivka, is asking to meet.
While gathering information for a school newspaper article she is writing, Simone learns the story of Rivka and the story of her adoption. This opens her up to meeting Rivka and trying to understand her better, which in turn leads to another bomb being dropped. Through this change, Simone starts to learn about who she is and she realizes that where she came from is a big part of where she is going. This is a story of amazing family love and support and of taking all of the good and bad in one’s life to create an identity for oneself. It is laced with acceptance, faith, and maybe a few PG anecdotes here and there.
A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life is obviously directed at young adults as the main character is in high school and deals with high school situations (parties, gossip, school social clubs, crushes), but I think it can span through several generations. The underlying theme is one that everyone deals with throughout his or her life. The humor and wit of the main character is not at all childish and Simone includes the reader in on her every thought throughout the story. It actually reads more like a diary which immediately pulled me in and kept me interested in the life of this teenager until the end of the book.
This is Dana Reinhardt’s first book and she has done a great job at taking her readers through every emotion one can go through while reading this book. The thoughts and feelings of this teenager are very realistic, neither too dramatic nor filled with rainbows and butterflies. I felt exactly how Simone felt when she felt it and when the book was over, I was a little sad that I had lost a friend. I’m very excited to read anything else that Ms. Reinhardt puts out.