Grade: 3 out of 5 stars
Summary: “My Quest to be a Single Dad” is a journal like record of Gary White and his experience with the adoption process. The book starts off with a brief detail of Gary’s childhood in the 50’s & 60’s and quickly speeds through to his adult life. On the night before his new adopted son was set to arrive, Gary has a panic attack and checks himself into the hospital. Due to this incident, he loses his son and negatively effects his future attempts to adopt. The book continues to the present day, with Gary continuing his attempts to adopt a child. I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that you never know what to expect with this story.
Thoughts: After I finished this book, I felt pretty “meh” about it. I wasn’t particularly moved by it but I didn’t hate it. One of my biggest problems with this book is the writing style that Gary uses. In the summary I said this was a “journal like record” and I feel that phrase really captures the author’s writing style. This book is written much like a journal with big events being condensed down to a few sentences. “We talked for a few hours about adopting”, “I cried on my bed and thought about my loss”. It’s phrases like that left me craving more details and ultimately failed at delivering. There lies the biggest flaw of this book. Gary wants to present the facts but didn’t bother to keep hard records at the time (could you blame him? Some of these events happened over 20 years ago). So in the end we’re left with a vague idea of what happened which left me wanting more. I personally wouldn’t have cared if he made up some dialogue if it gave us an idea of what happened. If no one kept a written record of what was said, then the only people who could argue the truth would be Gary and who ever he talked with. As a removed 3rd party, any dialogue would only enhance this book.
The book does have some redeeming qualities as you get deeper into the story. The first half of the book is devoted to Gary’s younger days and roughly covers 50 years. The second half of the book covers a much smaller time, roughly 5 years. Due to the space that Gary takes in the second half of the book, he puts in much more information including case documents, official responses and more. I feel like the first half is more of an outline while the second half has a lot more meat to it. We spend chapters on specific adoption attempts as opposed to a few pages.
So after reflecting on this book I had to stop and ask myself, “who would enjoy reading this?” I think the answer is simple: those who are trying to adopt. This story gives you an idea of how adoption works, a few tips on what to do (or not to do in Gary’s case) and general ways in which kids end up in adoption. It’s not a how-to guide but it will give you one man’s story and readers can take from it as they wish.
So if you’re looking to adopt or you want to read about one man’s rough journey through the adoption process then you might pick this one up. Just don’t expect any huge revelations or life altering changes.
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