When I First Held You

Lake Union. Jan. 2023. 362p. ISBN 9781662503863. pap. $16.99. F
When the Scottish Committee of 100 protest group, was arrested in 1960s Glasgow, Judith was torn from her lover, James. She doesn’t hear from him until 50 years later, when he walks into her shop. When Judith informs him that she had been pregnant and was forced to give their baby up for adoption, he takes a DNA test in the hopes of finding their daughter; the result opens up past wounds, but also a chance for healing and reconciliation. Harris (The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton) evokes the heartache and grief of losing a child to forced adoption, a sad reality that many single mothers like Judith had to face in the 1960s. With a dual timeline from Judith’s past and present POVs, and an additional POV from Judith and James’s biological granddaughter, Ruby, who finds them through the DNA testing, Harris delivers a story of beautiful, prose and three-dimensional characters. Young Judith’s desperation to contact James and the callous treatment of unsupportive family is gut-wrenching. A surprise reveal of the events of that fateful day in Glasgow creates an intriguing layer to this emotional story.
VERDICT This profound story of loss delivers an emotional gut-punch but also displays human resilience. Recommended for fans of Jodi Picoult.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing