Tenacity by Rebecca Tillou

★★★★  In Rebecca Tillou’s memoir, Tenacity, a woman goes on a dogged, heart-wrenching mission to find the answers she has always craved about her birth parents. Her adopted family’s support allows her to utilize all possible resources to discover the truth of her birth—and any unintended effects of the circumstances surrounding it. With great patience, she shepherds the reader into the complete story of her life and the large (and evergrowing) number of characters who populate it. Tillou places emails, pictures, and other sources at the reader’s fingertips so they feel the same shock, sadness, and joy at the connection between Rebecca and her birth mother as she did during her inspirational journey.

Tenacity is obviously a well-researched piece—there are citations and documentation for just about every detail—but what one craves in a long and personal read like this is connection with the author. Intimate details abound, but to increase engagement in the story, the author should tell the reader more about her own feelings on the subject. In the memoir’s current state, these thoughts come across as only fleeting sentences shoehorned between bits of her research, or condensed in the last three chapters of the work. Clearly, it is the mark of a charismatic memoirist who can leave readers asking for more detail, as in less capable hands, the sheer volume of territory covered in Tenacity would leave them clawing for air. From birth to the adoption process to the search for her birth mother, Tillou uses her vast knowledge to educate the reader on both her methodology and small familial details that make the culmination of the memoir that much more meaningful.

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