Title: Daughters for a Time
Author: Jennifer Handford
Daughters for a Time by Jennifer Handford is a heartbreaking tale about a woman who lost her mother at a very early age, may as well have lost her father for all the good he did her, then spent years of her adulthood trying (and failing) to get pregnant. Only weeks after the first time she finally held her daughter in her arms, her sister drops a bomb on her: she has the same cancer that took their mother.
Helen, the main character, was instantly easy to relate to for me because of my own difficulties trying to conceive. She voiced the same thoughts that I had during that time. For example, her sister, Clair, says something to the effect of “maybe it’s God’s way of telling you that you’re not ready to birth a child,” to which Helen responds “So God finds crack whores and single teenagers suitable to birth a child, but not me?” Exactly what I said, or at least wanted to say, to all the well-meaning people who said such hurtful things. I knew people weren’t trying to offend me, but seriously, how can anyone think saying something like that isn’t offensive?
Claire, Helen’s sister who is diagnosed with the same cancer that took their mother when Helen was just 14, is more like a mother figure than a sister. She was 20 when their mom died, so she stepped up to raise Helen. Where Claire is careful, dignified, and a bit on the stuffy side at times, Helen is more of a free spirit. When Claire is diagnosed, however, Helen needs to step up and be supportive to her sister while at the same time trying to adjust to motherhood.
Although I did find the story a little slow in some parts, overall it was beautifully written and engaging. The process for adopting a daughter from China was very interesting too, and actually could be very useful to someone planning to go through that at some point. Several chapters of the book cover Helen and Tim’s journey to China to pick up their new child, and advice is given to them from a seasoned expert in the process.
Another major part of the book was Helen’s struggle to forgive her father for walking out, and the harder task of getting Claire to forgive him too. I don’t want to give away the ending, but this isn’t exactly a happy book. Well, maybe in a way it is, because even though sad events do occur, Helen manages to cope and help those who need it most. In a way, that’s really what life is all about: a series of sad events mixed with happy times. I guess it all depends on what you choose to take out of it. While I found it a little sad, I also think it’s a great tale about triumphing over difficult times and situations.