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Twice a Daughter, A Search for Identity, Family, and Belonging

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The heartwarming and intricate story of one woman's journey to find her and her twin sister's birth parents several decades later.

In 1959, Julie and her sister were adopted from a Catholic orphanage in Chicago. They've both lived happy and fulfilling lives after being raised by their loving adopted parents, but following a health scare, Julie begins the process of finding her birth mother to learn her health history. The desire to know her birth parents has always sat in the back of her mind, but she has never attempted to search for them out of respect to her adopted parents. There is also the hurdle of closed adoption records leaving Julie with little information to start. Now with the important goal of gaining a medical history for herself and her family, she begins the long and complicated task of finding her birth mother with the few pieces of information she has. Twice a Daughter is an emotional and detailed look into the world of adoption.


Julie Ryan McGue does a fantastic job of building the narrative of her story in a way that keeps the reader invested in her ultimate goal of finding her birth mother. For Julie, this whole process took several years, and she masterfully condenses those years down into a couple of hundred pages. The pacing of the story is also very well done, stopping at important moments to explore the emotions of events and moving quickly over the periods when Julie's search hits a roadblock.


The most compelling aspect of Twice a Daughter is the emotional journey that Julie and her family face during the adoption search. Julie is very concerned when she first starts the search that her adopted parents will think they weren't good enough as parents. Her father is very supportive throughout, but Julie's relationship with her mother becomes difficult because of the emotional toll the search brings.


Julie Ryan McGue's memoir is a deep look into the world of closed adoptions. In addition to her debut memoir, she has a website where she regularly writes blog posts and essays centering on the themes of identity and family. She is currently working on a collection of essays for her next book.

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Sarah is a freelance book reviewer in the Greater Chicago area. She has a lifelong love of reading and learning and believes that books can change lives. Her goal is to work with and help authors bring their writing to a community of readers.

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About the author

Julie Ryan McGue writes extensively about finding out who you are, where you belong, and making sense of it. She received a BA from Indiana University and a Masters from Northwestern University, and she splits her time between NW Indiana and Sarasota. Twice a Daughter is her first book. view profile

Published on May 11, 2021

Published by She Writes Press

80000 words

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

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