THE BOOK REPORT: Somebody Else’s Daughter

Somebody Else’s Daughter
by Elizabeth Brundage
(Viking Adult)

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Elizabeth Brundage takes a much bigger bite than she can chew in the complexity and multitude of issues she tries to address in Somebody Else’s Daughter. Included among the many conflicts her characters face, are those of post-adoption identity crises (on the part of both parent and child), the return of an adult to childhood haunts, eating disorders, drug abuse, physical abuse, animal abuse, sexual assault, prostitution, AIDS and confrontations resulting from socioeconomic disparity.

Perhaps the most relevant theme of the novel is that of women’s rights. Brundage’s message however, seems to be lost, as the female character who initially demonstrates the greatest strength, ultimately is lured first, by the male protagonist whose wealth is secretly acquired through his success as a bigwig in the porn industry, and later by the weakest male character who sheepishly harbors an identifying secret of his own, that he is the true father of the female protagonist, adoptive daughter to Mr. Porn CEO.

The title subject manages to retain a healthy sense of stability for the majority of the novel, yet the downward spiral that she eventually enters is somewhat abrupt. Furthermore, the author could stand to do, as English teachers say, a lot more showing than telling.

Clearly this novel involves a tangled web of characters, and Brundage absolutely deserves to be lauded for her ability to develop all of her characters’ in full via a plot that is easily followed and, at times, pretty suspenseful. That being said, maybe next time she will consider implementing a narrower focus on the conflicts her characters address.

Jessica Stein

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