Thursday, October 07, 2010


When I lived in Marin I loved going to my writing support group, The Writing Mamas -- and there were certain mamas there who were my favorite. Jessica O'Dwyer is one of them.

She was working incredibly hard on a manuscript about adopting her child(ren) from Guatemala. I'd see drafts of chapters in small groups, I'd review pages with her in Joyce Maynard's living room, I'd watch her get essays published in The Chronicle and on-air at KQED, and I'd always think that Jessica O'Dwyer was going to go the distance and get that thing published.

Well, it's published! By Seal Press! And Publisher's Weekly just gave it a rave review:

Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir
Jessica O’Dwyer, Seal, $16.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-58005-334-1
O’Dwyer’s harrowing and moving journey to adopt a Guatemalan baby offers a look into one person’s experience in the frustratingly convoluted process of adopting from unscrupulous “facilitators.” O’Dwyer had gone through an early divorce and menopause at age 32 before marrying Tim, a divorced dermatologist over 50. They put together an adoption dossier and found an L.A. agency that promised a quick adoption while cutting the bureaucratic red tape. Intent on adopting a certain “Stefany Mishell” (they fell in love with from her online photo), the desperate couple soon discovered that the agency’s methods were dilatory and sloppy, neglecting the important legal paperwork, such as filing the requisite DNA test, and using shady notarios (private attorneys), so that in the end the promised six-month adoption extended over a year. Moreover, O’Dwyer’s occasional visits to Guatemala, where she met Stefany’s foster family and spent a weekend with the baby at the Camino Real hotel in Guatemala City, turned into a permanent residency, as she moved to a city north of the capital, Antiqua, to live with Stefany (now Olivia) until family court finalized the adoption. Dealing with the greedy foster family, managing the baby’s early separation anxiety, navigating the middlemen and interminable waiting are all deftly handled in O’Dwyer’s somber tale. (Nov.)
If you like a good read, if you crave some good new nonfiction, and/or if you have any interest in international adoption, read Mamalita. I guarantee it'll be good.


Anonymous said... wonderful for your friend Jessica.
I can't wait to read it! I have been reading so much non-fiction lately, and really enjoying learning in such different areas.
Thanks for posting such good news.
I look forward to seeing your name on a publication of your own one of these days!!

anjie said...

Would Mim be Mom?

Thanks :)

Jessica said...

Anjie, thank you! So wonderful to share my good news with good friends. Hope you enjoy reading the final version of Mamalita. xox Jessica

Jennie Englund said...

I've been hearing so many wonderful things about this book, and have been looking forward to reading it!

It's always inspiring reading a hardship-turned-joy story, especially with an adorable baby at the core.

Anonymous said...

Yes,Anjie, Mim IS Mom.

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to Jessica's book - and yours down the road somewhere and sometime.
Congrats, Jessica, on Olivia in your home and your book of insights onto the challenge of international adoptions.
JJJ (Mick's Mom)

Jennifer Margulis said...

Congrats to your friend. I totally totally totally want to read this book!