When Beth Nonte Russell travels to China to help her friend Alex adopt a baby girl from an orphanage there, she thinks it will be an adventure, a chance to see the world. But her friend, who had prepared for the adoption for many months, panics soon after being presented with the frail baby, and the situation develops into one of the greatest challenges of Russell's life.
Russell, watching in disbelief as Alex distances herself from the child, cares for the baby -- clothing, bathing, and feeding her -- and makes her feel secure in the unfamiliar surroundings. Russell is overwhelmed and disoriented by the unfolding drama and all that she sees in China, and yet amid the emotional turmoil finds herself deeply bonding with the child. She begins to have dreams of an ancient past -- dreams of a young woman who is plucked from the countryside and chosen to be empress, and of the child who is ultimately taken from her. As it becomes clear that her friend -- whose indecisiveness about the adoption has become a torment -- won't be bringing the baby home, Russell is amazed to realize that she cannot leave the baby behind and that her dreams have been telling her something significant, giving her the courage to open her heart and bring the child home against all odds.
Steeped in Chinese culture, Forever Lily is an extraordinary account of a life-changing, wholly unexpected love.
I received this book last night and read through it quite quickly. It is an easy and flowing read but I had difficulty with some parts of the book.
The dream sequences seemed out of place and certainly didn't add to the story as a memoir of adopting a child in China. If this had been a fictional tale the tie in to the reincarnation dreams might have added an intriguing layer but as part of a real life tale it just felt clumsy and as if the author was trying to add another element of interest to keep the reader's attention and to flesh out the story.
I was confused a bit about why her friend Alex was not only indecisive about wanting Lily after they arrived there but then seemed to enjoy the power struggle of denying the baby to Beth. I certainly hope that Beth didn't remain friends with her after this.
If Beth had written more about her struggles with feeling lost and empty before the process of adopting Lily...I might have felt more connected with her and more interested in her vivid dream recollections. I myself have incredible dreams and oftentimes would rather be dreaming than living my life now.
I did finish it though and maybe if there had been more editing done with the dream sequences...there wouldn't have been enough left of the book.
Because I finished it...I give it a 2 out of 5 stars.