The Making of Her

Dutton. Aug. 2022. 352p. ISBN 9780593186138. $27. F
DEBUT Dubliners Joan and Martin Egan rarely mention Emma, their first daughter, born in 1965 when they were unwed teenagers; the infant Emma was placed for adoption at Martin’s insistence. A short time later, Joan and Martin did marry, much to the disapproval of Martin’s tyrannical mother, Molly. Neither Molly nor the Egans’ second daughter, 27-year-old Carmel, knows anything about Emma. The four of them have lived under Molly’s roof in a strained version of a successful family all these years, running the profitable Egan business. Joan mourned the loss of her first child, while Martin forbade any discussion of her. Now, out of the blue, Joan receives a letter from Emma, who is desperately seeking a bone-marrow donor to save the life of Ben, her three-year-old son who is dying of leukemia in a London hospital. With that one letter, the brittle exterior of the Egan family unit crumbles, and decades of simmering resentments explode, putting Joan, Martin, and Carmel on a collision course with the past and the truth in a race to save the life of an innocent toddler.
VERDICT Jiwa offers a cautionary tale about the bruising, explosive power of secrets kept for far too long. Her fully realized, sympathetic, often desperately imperfect characters make for an irresistible read.
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