Living in a home for home for orphans is never easy, but when you have physical difficulties such as being part deaf and having a speech impediment, it’s even more difficult.
Alice lives in an orphans home for girls run by some nuns. She spends a lot of time in the kitchen with one nun in particular. Alice has a hard time hearing and a hard time speaking. She gets made fun of from time to time. People constantly tell her how to pronounce things. When the girls are away on a retreat, a fire starts accidentally in the kitchen. Alice’s favorite nun is injured.
Alice makes a pact with God that she will consider being adopted when she knows what has happened to her favorite nun. The months go by and the nun doesn’t return. Alice goes to camp in the meantime. There she performs a duet with another girl named Naomi. Alice doesn’t particularly like Naomi, but she does the duet anyway. Alice is a gifted singer. She thinks people are chanting Naomi when she was up on stage, but they were really chanting Miami. In fact, people keep calling her Miami. Alice asks around and people tell her she was just at camp a few weeks ago. Alice knows she wasn’t at camp a few weeks ago. She pokes around and manages to get the address of the mysterious Miami.
Alice hops on a bus unbeknownst to any of the nuns and goes to Miami’s house. There she finds a girl who looks exactly like her. Miami’s parents have already adopted four children and have another on the way. They cannot adopt Alice as well. Everyone meets and agrees it’s best that Alice and Miami are allowed to see each other and develop a relationship.
In the meantime Alice gets better and better at speaking and listening. Someone finally tells her where her favorite nun is. A story to the newspaper gets Alice and Miami some attention. It also attracts people who potentially want to adopt Alice. Alice knows she cannot be with Miami all the time, but she’s found a little more of her past.
What I liked
This story is unlikely, but not something that would be unheard of. We’ve all heard these stories about twins getting separated and then finding each other again later in life. It happens.
Gregory wrote this book for young people to show them that being orphaned wasn’t the end of the world. There are still things you enjoy in life and there are still people who can be like family to you. Gregory knows from experience, not only did he spend time in an orphanage growing up, he has also adopted several children with his partner. He knows what orphaned kids go through. I think it’s great that he’s trying to put information and encouragement out there for kids who were just like him and for kids who were just like his adopted children.
I liked that Alice found somebody she could hold onto in her life. I liked that she was also recognized for the talent she had.
What I didn’t like
It’s sad, but it’s often that children placed in foster care are separated from their siblings. People just aren’t that willing to take on three kids who are siblings. Twins are more often kept together, but that isn’t always the case. I can see both sides of this argument. On the pro side, ideally it’s a good idea to keep siblings together because they’re used to being together and they could have their sibling(s) to rely on. On the con side, adopting a child is expensive. Providing for children is expensive. Not many people have the money to go adopting three children at once. Adopting a child will often run into the $30,000 range, that’s a house down payment. If you had to adopt three kids at that rate it would be like buying a house.
While it’s sad that Alice and Miami were separated, it was probably the best at the time for the adults involved. It wasn’t necessarily the best for Miami and Alice, but it’s better that at least one of them had a home to grow up in.
Mystery siblings…what fun!
If you discovered you had a mystery twin, what do you think his or her name would be?
How do you think you would feel not knowing where your family came from? [book-info title=”Missing Sisters” author=”Gregory Maguire”]