Well, this was an interesting read. Mary Anna King — born second to a family of seven — grew up watching her mother give away sister after sister, as she and her brother grew up in poverty.
Born second in a family that would eventually number seven, Mary didn’t finish meeting all of her siblings until she was attending college. Mary and her older brother watched their grandparents take away their baby sister to Oklahoma, while they stayed in New Jersey with their extremely irresponsible parents. After their parents divorced, they kept meeting up every once and a while, resulting in four younger sisters for Mary and Jacob — but each one was given away at birth. Eventually, Mary and Jacob joined their third sister in Oklahoma, and they were raised fairly well by well-meaning but strict grandparents. Mary remained rather isolated from the sister (Becca) who was raised by her grandparents for years before she arrived, and Jacob was sent away quickly for behavior issues (which sound they weren’t his fault at all) to live with his father. Mary tried her best to be a very good child, to make up for her grandparents’ sacrifice to raise her. Meanwhile, Becca partied and drank and caused all sorts of trouble.
About half of the memoir is devoted to the rather horrible way Mary was raised, while the rest focuses on her 1) meeting those younger sisters, who were adopted out by 3 different families and 2) recovering from that childhood. While I thought the writing was decent and it’s certainly an interesting story, it felt like Mary really stays on the surface of things — we don’t get too much of a glimpse into her psyche, or more importantly (in my opinion, anyway), her parents’. Still, it’s definitely a view into a very different kind of life, and those are always worth reading.