Thursday, April 2, 2009

Serendipity Road - Book Review

Serendipity Road - North American title
By Catherine DeVrye
McArthur & Co, Toronto 2007 (PB)
Published in Canada (HB) in 2006
Australian and UK title - Who Says I Cant?
Originally published 2002
Catherine's website

This is the story of a Canadian woman trying to find herself in two countries. Catherine was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and adopted at 6 months of age by Hank DeVrye, a Dutch immigrant and his wife Marg Smart (Canadian born of Scottish born parents).

Catherine did not find out she was adopted until she was 15 years old. In the middle of a fight with her mother (as all teenage daughters do) and her mother screamed, I should send you back to the Salavation Army where you came from.

That was a shock to Catherine. She tried to forget that she was adopted. In the 1960s, it was still a social stigma to admit you were adopted.

Catherine finished high school, and went to university. She graduated with a sports degree and became a physical educaton teacher. Shortly after Catherine graduated in the early 1970's, both her adoptive parents died - within months of each other.

Catherine was distraught and she left Canada. She found herself in Australia and started working there. She worked at various jobs but eventully got a job with the Sports Ministry of Victoria state. During this time, Catherine was married for a few years, but the marriage did not last. In the early 1980s Catherine became an Australian citizen. Which makes her a dual citizen - of both Canada and Australia.

Some time later Catherine got a job as a Sales Representative with IBM. This was her job for the next 20 years and she has travelled all over Asia. She even lived in Japan for a number of years. She was promoted numerous times, and eventually resigned around the year 2000 to start her own business as a consultant and speaker. Catherine has written several books about how to improve and change your life.

While she was in Japan, Catherine (who seems to have already obtained her original birth certificate) started writing letters to all the familes named Bachman in Alberta that she would find in the telephone directories located at the Canadian embassy in Tokyo. Bachman was her mothers name but Catherine had no idea if her mother was married or not.

It took some time, and several wrong turns, but in February 1988 Catherine received a telegram from a couple in Alberta. It was signed Harold and Pearl Mandeville and your mother Trudy.

It turns out that Trudy Bachman was Catherine's birth mother, and Harold Mandeville was Catherine's birth father. Pearl was Harold's wife. He did not find out about his daughter until after Catherine had been born and adopted. But he had never stopped hoping to find her.

In May of 1988 Catherine flew back to Canada to meet her biological parents. and her half siblings of which there were quite a few on both sides. She also met her maternal grandmother - Frida Bachman - the matriarch of the family. Frida Bachman was born in Switzerland.

Harold Mandeville was a very well known cowboy on the rodeo circuit. He and Catherine had 20 years to get to know each other. Last year (2008) Catherine's father Harold Mandeville was killed in a freak farming accident.

Catherine has lost two fathers in her life time. No human should ever have to go through that. BUT all adopted children do. Those who are lucky enough to find their birth parents and those who are not.

While I myself am not adopted, my mother was adopted. So I know a little something of what Catherine has gone through. I grew up with the uncertainty of not knowing who I was. It didnt help that I developed an interest in history and genealogy. There was always a huge blank on my mothers side of the tree. This may be WHY I became interested in genealogy.

However, since my mother has obtained her original birth certificate, I have been able to trace my biological grandmothers family back to Cornwall (UK) in the late 1600's. My maternal grandfathers side of the family tree is still blank - because her fathers name is not written on the birth certificate. But I am no longer uncertain about who I am.

I have never met my biological grandmother. She would be 90 years this year, if she is still alive. I am half thinking about writing to her son (she later did get married - that much I have discovered) and ask him if he knows he has a half sister. I am a bit scared of doing this, but if Catherine can do it, then why cant I? My mother will probably tell me its a bad idea.

I read this book for the Canadian Book Challenge.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

This sounds like an interesting book...great review. I gave you an award on my blog.