Book Review: Rock Needs River

I received Rock Needs River by Vanessa McGrady from Kindle First, a perk of Amazon Prime that allows Prime members to chose one book to have for free before it is published. Adoption holds a special place in my heart (as it does for many!) so this book was an obvious choice for me. rockneedsriver

I came to this book expecting the author to describe the years and experiences leading to her pursuit of an open adoption, but for the book to primarily focus on the struggle to adopt and the aftermath. The book is pretty short (only about 200 pages in the physical copy), so I was a little surprised at how the author chose to trace her story. She spends quite a lot of time talking about her bad relationships, extensive resume, and her brief nomadic lifestyle. I was pleased to discover that she used to live on the Olympic Peninsula! Hello from Bremerton if you are reading this, Ms. McGrady!

McGrady has a beautiful heart. She sees only the good in people, even when she shouldn’t. This manifests in many broken relationships, and ultimately, a toxic marriage. I related strongly to her deep desire to be a mother, and mourned every miscarriage she described. I felt the emotional turmoil with her when she found herself in her late 30s and wanting to adopt as a single woman. This gets more into my curiosity about human psychology, but her struggle to find a placement as a single woman makes me wonder if that was a subconscious motivation in her dating and eventually marrying her husband. She pursues a married man, is shocked when his wife is enraged by their relationship, and the later on, when she is divorcing her husband, wonders how things got so bad for them.

Essentially, much of what I learned from this memoir is that Vanessa McGrady is not the best at romantic relationships. She is, however, a wonderful friend, and an incredible mother. Reading about the way she loves and nurtures her daughter was incredibly beautiful. She knows her daughter, Grace, so well. She even generously opens her home to Grace’s biological parents for over a month when they become homeless. But when she realizes the unpredictability of Bill and Bridgett is adding to Grace’s anxiety, Vanessa puts her daughter first.

Rock Needs River is a memoir of bad relationships, a nomadic life, and an incredibly unusual open adoption. It has a little bit of everything and was fascinating to read. I do wish more focus had been put on the adoption and the process in general, but I appreciate what Vanessa McGrady had to say and relate to the struggle to put words onto pages.

Rock Needs River by Vanessa McGrady gets 3/5 stars.


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