Review: Tish Cohen, The Search Angel

Posted on Dec 28 2014 - 4:00pm by Claire Herbaux
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Reading369 pages, first published by Harper Collins June 2013

Tish Cohen is known in her adult and young adult novels to write around the topic of family, how dysfunctional or tricky they can be. Her latest book fits that pattern. The Search Angel is all about finding your family, may it be blood relation or not.

Eleanor Sweet owns an upscale baby boutique in Boston and seems to have it all: Her husband Jonathan, a job that surrounds her with happy expecting mothers and the cutest new born accessories; and a baby on the way! Her adoption has finally gone through and Sylvie is waiting for her new parents in California.

In stocking shelves with organic hemp diapers, Swedish soothers, and washable bibs made of antique linen, she was collecting the most elaborate layette an infant could ever hope for.

Her own baby never came.

She is so close to her dream she can almost touch it. But as the taxi is there to take them to the airport, Jonathan gets cold feet and backs out. That changes everything. The adoption went through for them as a couple. As a single mother, she would need a support system which is non-existent in her life. Suddenly Eleanor Sweet is alone. She has no husband, no child, her adoptive parents passed away and she never made contact with her birth mother, her only friend is her colleague who is swamped with her three demanding sons. It doesn’t bode well for Eleanor, who has been so desperate for a child and struggled with her infertility until the adoption finally went through.

With little Sylvie in mind, she sets out to build herself a support network. She looks for a Search Angel, volunteers who help adopted children find their birth parents. If she can find her family, she can be a family to Sylvie.

And there is the other, painful side of adoption: A mother is introduced in the dramatic prologue that describes a mother giving up her child for adoption in 1959, being told not to look at her new born’s face because it will stay with her forever; she does look at her son’s face and it torments her for the rest of her life.

“Don’t give him a name,” the chaplain had said in the labor room, gold crosses strung from her neck. With her stout frame, in white suit and hose, sturdy beige nursing shoes, she could be a carton of milk. “Makes them too human.” Isabelle had allowed them to take her son away the moment he was born. The chaplain was right. Seeing the child’s crumpled brow and pursed lips, his fists balled and ready to fight, it was a mistake.

On her journey to create a family for Sylvie, Eleanor learns about this other side of adoption, what it is like for a mother who has to give up her child, and about what it means to be a mother.

ISBN: 1443410829; ISBN13: 9781443410823

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