Finding Karen Black: Roots Become Wings

Wings. Aug. 2022. 294p. ISBN 9780578373713. pap. $17.49. MEMOIR
Bay writes an adoption memoir/cinema biography on Karen Black (1939–2013) who, for film fans of a certain age, was an icon: beautiful, quirky, and very successful. Her success hid a secret: as a teenager in 1959, the actress gave up a baby for adoption. Bay, a happily married artist with a family of her own, had always longed to find her birth mother. In 2012, when Illinois finally opened its birth records, Bay applied for her original birth certificate and discovered her biological mother’s name. A quick internet search suggested that her mother may be the famous actress. Black also longed to find the daughter she had given up but had declined to make her search public for fear of hoax responses. Reunited with her birth mother, the author also discovers that she had many new family members, including half-siblings. Their happiness is shaded with sadness as Black faces a reoccurrence of a rare cancer that will quickly claim her life. In the short time they have together, Black and Bay forge a connection to cover the lost years.
VERDICT Focused more on Bay’s journey than on her mother’s, this memoir may appeal to other adopted children searching for their roots, plus to those seeking self-realization.
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