In Looking Into You by Chris Fabry, Paige Redwine is an English professor at a college in Nashville. Only her parents know her secret: some twenty years before, she became pregnant and placed her baby for adoption at the insistence of her parents. Told that the father of her baby died, Paige had no choice but to go on with her life. But she feels stuck: she’s supposed to be finishing her dissertation on a mother’s love in literature, but she can’t seem to make progress. She also feels stuck in a relationship with a nice man who wants to be more than friends, but she can’t seem to move forward.
Then one day a coworker tells her about a documentary she saw about a nursing home’s residents and workers (told in Every Waking Moment). Among the nursing home staff was a girl in her twenties who had been placed for adoption but ended up being passed through the system. The girl had nystagmus, which caused her eyes to move rapidly, and when overwhelmed she made a typing motion with her hands. She wasn’t very expressive, but she had an unusual way with the residents, especially those who couldn’t or didn’t communicate. Paige is jolted when she learns the girl’s name: Treha, the unusual name she had purposefully given the baby she had placed for adoption.
Shaken, Paige finds and watches the documentary. But even now, knowing where her daughter is and what she has been through, Paige is hesitant to reach out. But then, “indecision made the decision” for her: suddenly Treha shows up as a student in one of Paige’s classes, unaware that Paige is her mother.
The point of view switches back and forth between Paige and Treha, and also occasionally to Miriam, Treha’s boss at the nursing home. I enjoyed seeing both sides as mother and daughter learn to overcome their fears to reach out and have a crash course in mother-daughter relationships. I’m glad Fabry didn’t paint this too rosy: every relationship has its rough spots, and both women had a lot to learn in relating to one another. “Grace allows you to see yourself in light of the past, not in the shadow of it.”
This book drew me in right away, and the ordeals of both women touched my heart. I think this book could be read as a stand-alone – I had forgotten much of Every Waking Moment when I started this book. But I’d recommend them both.