Monday, October 06, 2014

[Memphis Reads 2014] Fresh Reads Top Ten Winner Katie Dorsey

Fresh Reads Essay Contest Winner Katie Dorsey
        Throughout the book, readers see that Sepha Stephanos is constantly torn between his home in Ethiopia and his present life in America. Readers also get a constant feeling that he struggles with the sense of identity.
Towards the beginning of the book, Judith and Naomi invite Sepha to their house for dinner. “I stepped back from the mirror and practiced my introduction. I wanted to be ready for the moment Judith opened the door and found me standing on her steps” (51). This excerpt is one example of Sepha struggling with his identity. He wants the evening to go perfectly, so he practices different ways to say hello. Instead of eating at the dining room table, Judith suggests eating on the couches in the living room. “I tried to erase any sound of food being ground into bits by chewing slowly, but it was never quite enough. I was still there, with all of my flaws, in Judith’s immaculate living room, which was larger and grander than anything I had ever sat and eaten in since coming to Logan Circle” (55). Through this excerpt, readers see that Sepha wants to be the perfect gentleman, but then comes to the realization that he cannot, because he is flawed.
     Throughout the book, Sepha constantly refers to his life in Ethiopia. Towards the end of the novel, Sepha says, “I searched for familiarity whenever I went” (175). He was reminded of home when was saw streets that intersected at weird angles or in the layout of the buildings around him. Sometimes, he would let his imagination get the best of him. For example, he would walk across campus with his father and talk to him about what was going on that day.
       In today’s society, many people are going through the same struggle as the main character; we are being pulled between two “places.” Some of us are pulled between our parents in a divorce or between two friends who are fighting. For someone who is adopted, the constant pull is between wondering why your parents left and not really wanting to know why.
       When I was three months old, I was left in front of the court house steps in China. I was found and brought to the orphanage and from there I was adopted by my parents. Throughout my childhood, I never struggled with my adoption; I always saw my adopted parents as my real parents. As I started getting older, the topic of adoption was brought up through literature or in history class, whenever the country of China was brought up. I remember coming home from school and asking my mom about my biological parents. She said that neither she nor the adoption agency knew anything about them. I told her that it was okay and I was just curious.
       Around the age of sixteen, I struggled with my adoption more than I ever had in the past. I was constantly wondering why my parents left me and why didn’t they try to raise me. These questions consumed my brain night and day to a point where I had an emotional breakdown in class. My mom came and got me from school but instead of going home, we drove around and talked. I asked her why my parents didn’t even at least try to raise me and why they just threw me away. She said that they had a law in China where a family could only have one child. Another thing that I told her was what if I was a mistake? How could my mom just leave me, especially after carrying me around in her stomach for nine months? My mom said she did not have all the answers and that she wished she did. The most important thing my mom told me that day was, “You will always be my daughter, regardless of you being adopted. Your father and I love you with all of our hearts and nothing will ever change that.”
       The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears is a book that many people can relate to. The main character is constantly searching for a home in America while still remembering his home in Ethiopia. In today’s society, we also have the same feelings; we are continuously being torn between two people, places, or decisions.
-- Katie Dorsey

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