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Looking for Lost Bird: A Jewish Woman Discovers Her Navajo Roots: 01/29/11

cover art

I am in the process of converting this book blog from one that took review copies to one that tracks my wishlist reading. When I was so focused on writing reviews for authors and publicists, I was stopped having fun with my posts. The writing became formulaic and to some degree, so did the reading. Now that I am back to doing this blog for fun (as it should be) I'm going to go back to telling the stories behind the books I chose to read. These are my stories. They might be nonsense but I want to tell them. You can, of course, skip ahead to when I actually talk about the book.

Looking for Lost Bird, Yvette Melanson's memoir has two stories attached to it. The first part comes with my choosing to read the book. The short version is, the book was research.

An on-going project of mine involves a series of books set in the distant future, on a distant planet. One of my characters is a doctor and a Navajo who has left the rez for his own reasons and will never be able to return. Being that far from home and not being able to return, even if he has some uncomfortable memories, has dredged up a need to return to traditions, rituals and beliefs he had abandoned years ago. I don't want any of my characters to be stereotypes or paper doll cutouts. I want them to be well rounded, flawed, and believable. I also don't want Mary Sues or Marty Stus.

In 2008 I started another round of research. Most of the titles that came up where either ones I'd already read or were college texts that I didn't have easy access too. Then there was Melanson's memoir that had two points in its favor: it was written for a general audience and her being raised Jewish just piqued my interest.

Fast forward now to New Year's Eve 2010. We were driving down to Southern California and Looking for Lost Bird was my current read. While my husband drove I had my nose buried in Melanson's memoir. By the end of the first chapter, I couldn't put the book down.

Yvette Melanson doesn't bog down her story with too many extraneous details. So many memoirs and biographies start with grandparents and only get to the titular subject fifty or a hundred pages in. Melanson jumps right into things: weaving together her decision to move with her husband and daughters to the reservation with her own birth and adoption.

She and her twin brother were stolen from the hospital when she had been jaundiced as a newborn. She ended up as a three or four year old being adopted by a Jewish family but after her adopted mother's death and her father's remarriage she found herself without a loving home and no sense of belonging.

After years of dead ends, the internet offered her a new tool. It lead her down an unexpected path and she found family who had been looking for her all her life. I'm not going to go into the details of what she found or how her reunion went. Those parts are the heart and soul of the book.

The book was a page turner. The long trip flew by. Although I'm skeptical about some of the details here and there, I still loved the book. I would some day like to add a copy to my personal collection.

Comments (6)

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Comment #1: Sunday, February, 6, 2011 at 01:32:59


Sounds interesting and I like your story of why you read it. That project sounds interesting too!

Comment #2: Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 20:29:13


Thank you. You can read the first part of the project here.

Comment #3: Monday, February, 7, 2011 at 01:53:29


ow,I bet this was a page turner! It sounds so intriguing to me. I added it to my TBR. I come from a Jewish family and my sister you to tell me that I was adopted but that my parents where going to give me back to the Indians. Of course, it wasn't true.

Comment #4: Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 20:30:15


It was certainly a page turner. It was also turned into a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie but I haven't seen it.

Comment #5: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 10:21:35

Yvette Melanson

I just came upon this site and glad to know that you liked my book. The movie is not that good or realistic but I guess that is "movie Magic".

If you have any questions, I will be glad to answer them.

Walk in Beauty,
Yvette Melanson LaRochelle

Comment #6: Sunday, April 01, 2012 at 22:37:02


Thank you for the generous offer. I appreciate it!

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