December 18, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

Ithaka

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Sarah Saffian
genre
Nonfiction, Memoir
We gave it a B

The author, adopted as a newborn, grew up happy until her 23rd year, when a phone call from her birth mother threw her into a spiral of self-searching depression. Torn between wondering about her birth parents and wanting them to leave her alone, Sarah Saffian spent three years corresponding with them (excerpts of the letters are reproduced) until finally meeting them in person. Ithaka is the story of what happened in the meantime: Saffian’s struggle to reconcile nature with nurture and the shock to her own identity. The tale is gracefully and affectingly told, yet ultimately it fails to leap off the page. B

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