Karen Kingsbury,
Like Dandelion Dust
(Centre Street, 2006)

Karen Kingsbury likes to pull the heartstrings, and she does so again in Like Dandelion Dust. Can you imagine adopting a child and later finding out that the signature, on the adoption papers, of one of the biological parents was forged? Forged, by the mother, because the father was in prison for domestic violence and the mother wanted to protect her child.

The father gets out of jail and learns he has a child. After four years, the Campbells, the adoptive parents, receive news that legally, the adoption has never taken place. They are required to send "their child" for visits with his biological parents -- visits that will lead to a permanent return.

This story reveals a plot that I didn't enjoy reading through. I think it probably wouldn't bother most people, but it weighed heavily on my mind. If it had been nonfiction and that theme, I wouldn't have picked up the book.

I couldn't even rely on a happy ending. I've read other of Kingsbury's books where the ending was closer to the realm of reality and less of a happy-ever-after tale, so I couldn't even be sure this fiction tale would end on a happy note.

As usual, Kingsbury's characters are just like you and me, everyday people in tough situations. She paints them well, and loves each of them. In this book she shows how the biological father makes efforts to improve his character but he faces a great challenge. And I did like the solution the adoptive parents picked, even though I wasn't sure it would work.

The end of the book has a Reading Group Guide with 20 questions to aid discussion about the story.

This book has the true Kingsbury touch, and if you haven't read her yet and you like sentimental but spiritually difficult entanglements you'll enjoy paging through this one.

by Virginia MacIsaac
9 December 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.