Saturday, January 28, 2012

Between Light and Shadow by Jacob Wheeler

Between Light and Shadow.  A Guatemalan Girl's Journey through Adoption by Jacob Wheeler

Between Light and Shadow is a poignant journey through Guatemala's landscape, international adoption and the effect adoption has had on its people.  The focus of the story is a beautiful 14 year old girl named Ellie who was adopted by a family from Michigan when she was seven.

Wheeler is a journalist who follows 14 year old Ellie and her family as they make the decision to reunite with Ellie's birth mother and her siblings in Guatemala.  Ellie was given up by her mother, Antonia, when she was seven years old and she has vivid memories of love and loss.  The last time she saw her brothers, they were chasing after the car she was riding in, Ellie turned to wave goodbye, tears steaming down her cheeks, not knowing if she would ever see them again.

Her adoptive parents, Judy and Bob, make a daring decision, against everyone's advice, to try and find Ellie's family. Wheeler is there to support, guide and record the process.  Wheeler is a veteran journalist who speaks fluent Spanish and lived in Guatemala for several years.  His book Between Light and Shadow evolved from a journalistic look into international adoption to a very personal story between two families, one American and one Guatemalan, who share the love on one very special girl.

Currently, adoption in Guatemala is no longer possible.  Wheeler takes a deep look at the Guatemalan adoption economy and explores all the possible aspects of a system that had good intentions and made a lot of U.S. families complete.  He delves into Guatemalan's violent and racist past to discover that extreme poverty has manipulated the adoption process.  We have all heard the horror stories of babies being sold and stolen and Wheeler investigates these claims and more. 

Ellie's personal story intrigued me.  I felt myself caught up in the story between Guatemala and the United States and between two sets of parents.  I know several people who have been adopted and several sets of parents who have adopted from the countries of Guatemala, China, Korea and Russia.  This is a story that everyone can relate to and enjoy.  You will laugh and cry and cherish the moments of Between Light and Shadow.

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