“Secret Storms” by Julie Mannix von Zerneck and Kathy Hatfield is a compelling story of two women, separated at birth. Born into an affluent, fame-seeking family, Julie had an extraordinary childhood. After refusing to abort an unplanned pregnancy, nineteen year old Julie was sent to a state mental hospital where she remained until the birth of her daughter, Aimee, who was immediately adopted. “Aimee” (renamed Kathy by her adoptive parents) spent most of her young life unaware that she was adopted. The death of her mother, and the remarriage of her father changed Kathy’s life forever when her stepsister announced that she was adopted.
“Secret Storms” took me on a journey of happiness and heartbreak. One moment I’d be laughing out loud, the next tears would be flowing. This book was more than a story of a daughter reuniting with her birth mother. Themes of loss, forgiveness and love are woven throughout this book.
We’re given a behind the scenes tour of Julie’s life, a Mainline Philadelphia debutante brought up by upper crust unconventional parents. Her large Pennsylvania home included a menagerie of exotic animals (a tiger, llamas, monkey, snakes and bats) that her parents brought home from their world travels and were allowed to roam freely. While her parents traveled the world writing and film making, Julie was sent to various boarding schools from Capri to Paris.
This is a well written, compelling memoir. While Julie’s story is exciting and entertaining, Kathy’s story is powerful and emotionally stronger. Julie’s account of her mother being at “the top of her game” and “her wheeling and dealing” resulted in her being signed on with General Artist Corporation seemed contrived. Especially since her parents were world-renowned writers and film makers. Understandably, Julie’s account of her life is dramatic, yet it occasionally distracted from her story.
Secret Storms is an emotion-filled memoir that exposes the intricate forces that exist in adoption. Julie and Kathy expose all of their pain and frustration in a beautiful, yet heart-wrenching account of searching for their identities, as well as each other. A must read for anyone touched by the pain and separation of adoption. This is the type of book that you’ll read many times over.
RATING: 5 STARS