Review: Lucky Girl
Mei-Ling was born in Taiwan and at seven months old, she was adopted by a loving American couple, Rollie and Chris Hopgood. The Hopgoods also adopted two boys from Korea. The three children grew up as all-American kids and Mei-Ling was never really curious about her birth family or her life in Taiwan before her adoption.
One day, after Mei-Ling had finished college and was working as a journalist, her adopted mother called her and told her that Sister Maureen, the nun who had facilitated her adoption wanted to see her. Mei-Ling decided to meet with Sister Maureen and when it was suggested that Mei-Ling could probably find her birth parents, Mei-Ling declined. Several months later, Mei-Ling asked Sister Maureen to write to the hospital where she was born. This started communication and eventually visits between Mei-Ling and her birth family.
Mei-Ling Hopgood‘s memoir, Lucky Girl does give her background, but mostly focuses on her contact and relationship with her birth family after she was an adult. And, what a family it is! I don’t want to give too much away, but her birth father is a domineering man with archaic ideas and her mother is a submissive woman. A lot of this is a result of their age and culture, but it was all quite a shock for Mei-Ling. Mei-Ling was thrilled to discover that she has seven sisters (only Mei-Ling and one other sister were given up for adoption, though). Mei-Ling struggles to understand her mother and the choices she made, but her meetings with her birth family only reinforces what she already knew – that she is a lucky girl.
I really enjoyed Lucky Girl – it’s a beautiful tale of self-discovery without a hint of self-pity. Mei-Ling readily admits that there were times when she felt different when she was growing up because there weren’t many Asians where she lived, but she’s also quick to point out that the Hopgoods were wonderful parents who encouraged and loved her and helped her become the strong woman she is today. When she says, “Giving our children even a fraction of the love and generosity that my mom and dad shared is the best legacy that I can think of leaving,” she is of course speaking of her adopted parents. After reading her book, I think she will leave a fine legacy.
There’s a great trailer for this wonderful book:
Review copy provided by Algonquin Books.