A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life

by Dana Reinhardt

Book, 2006



Call number




Wendy Lamb Books (2006), Edition: 1st, 240 pages


Sixteen-year-old atheist Simone Turner-Bloom's life changes in unexpected ways when her parents convince her to make contact with her biological mother, an agnostic from a Jewish family who is losing her battle with cancer.

User reviews

LibraryThing member PatriciaUttaro
A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt - It took me a couple tries to get into this one, but once I did, I was hooked. Sixteen year old Simone is confronted with the possibility of meeting her birth mother, an introduction she does not want nor relish. Once they meet, however,
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their relationship becomes precious, but is ended abruptly by Rivka’s death. At first, I found Simone petulant and annoying, but she grew on me after awhile. I particularly liked her confrontations with the Evil B*tch outside the coffee shop and at the ACLU rally. What unsettled me about this story was the number of budding relationships the author was juggling –Simone and Rivka, Simone and the boyfriend, Cleo and Darius — too many to develop properly. I also thought the Orthodox family was one-dimensional, although I loved how Rivka introduced Simone to the parts of her faith and ritual that were important to her. Simone’s struggle with atheism versus faith was handled well, although I think it could have been developed more.
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LibraryThing member kaburns
A thoroughly enjoyable read. A young girl, who is adopted, does a lot of maturing when she discovers her birth mother and the story behind her adoption.
LibraryThing member edspicer
Simone is adopted and, like my own adopted son, has very little (if any) desire to discover her biological parents. She has her own life and her own problems. She loves her adopted parents and sees little reason to search for parents she has never known. When Rivka, her birth mother, shows up in
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her life, Simone is annoyed, but soon discovers some very unexpected blessings. Rivka is Jewish and comes from a very orthodox upbringing. Reinhardt has written a book to show teens eager to write about their own faith traditions. Usually when teens write about faith, there is nothing in the writing to distinguish the student’s faith and beliefs from those of a thousand or more other students. Reinhardt incorporates writing about faith in a way that personalizes it and, consequently, makes it more powerful and universal. Read this book with a box of tissues handy. Highly recommended for middle school and high school libraries.
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LibraryThing member theteenspot
Excellent! A coming-of-age story. Simone has always felt different, though her life seems pretty normal. Her mom's a lawyer for the ACLU; her dad's a political cartoonist and a fabulous cook. Her little brother, Jack,is a jock who seems to have it all together. Her best friend, Clio, has a new
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boyfriend. And Simone has a crush on a really smart and funny guy who spends all his time with another girl. But you can tell what really makes Simone different just by looking at her: She doesn't resemble anyone in her family. She's adopted. She's always known it, but she's never wanted to know anything about where she came from. She's happy with her family just as it is, thank you very much. Then one day, she meets her Jewish birth mother, Rivka, and everything changes.
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LibraryThing member GaylDasherSmith
Engaging story because the voice is so authentic. This girl has the maturity to know that sometimes even within brief chapters of your life, there can be turns in the road that color the rest of the trip. I admired this spunky soul even as she stumbles through a lot of unfamiliar territory...like a
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Jewish birth mother she's never met.
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LibraryThing member TigerLMS
Simone knows she's adopted and is happy with her family. Unlike other adoptive kids, she has no desire to meet her birth mother, even when her birth mother repeatedly calls hoping to get together. The two do eventually meet, and Simone finds out a lot of surprising things about herself-- including
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that she's stronger than she realized. Reinhardt's writing is solid and Simone's voice is both brave and full of doubt-- in other words, authentic for most teenagers. This is a Missouri Gateway Reader nominee for 2008-2009, and this is in my top 5 of the 15 nominees.
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LibraryThing member abbylibrarian
Simone has always known that she was adopted, but she never has any interest in knowing more about her birth parents. Then one day her birth mother Rivka calls and Simone begins to learn the story behind her birth. Her birth mother was a Hasidic Jew and still keeps up Jewish tradition. Simone, who
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has always considered herself an atheist, begins to examine her faith and question her beliefs. The narrative voice is totally awesome. Simone is smart and funny. Although it deals with serious subject matter, the tone is not depressing. This is one of my top picks for a Printz!
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LibraryThing member skwarner26
This is a must read. I am a middle school media specialist and I recommend this title to a lot of 8th graders. Samone is the real deal and she is mature for her age; however, life throws curve balls at you when your 16, 25, 32 or anytime in your life. It says a lot about someone's character in the
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presence of these life changing events. Samone beliefs in family, faith and friendship are challenged in this powerful novel.

Because of the language and some of the content, I would recommend this book for 8th grade and up. But remember, the maturity level of the student, not their age, should be a good for selecting books.
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LibraryThing member MeriJenBen
A teenage girl learns more about the circumstances of her adoption, when her birth mother contacts her for the first time.

Simone has a comfortable, upper-middle class liberal life. Mom is an ACLU lawyer, Dad is a political cartoonist. She has always known she is adopted, but has never wished to
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find her birth parents or questioned the love of her family. However, when Rivka, Simone's birth mother, initiates a contact, it sends Simone into a tailspin. She resists the urge to meet with Rivka, seeking solace in the drama of her best friend, but when an unrelated ACLU case brings the facts of her adoption to life, her curiosity wins out.

Rivka, who comes from a Hasidic background, has much to tell Simone about her family and history. She also helps Simone explore her Jewish heritage. Rivka is beautiful and talented, unfortunately, she is also dying.

This story, while enjoyable and interesting, feels a bit... shallow? Simone is grappling with huge issues of family, identity and religion, but the story never really delves much beyond the surface, and Simone never really struggles for answers. All in all, Simone is strangely underdeveloped, she seems bland next to the more vivid Rivka, or even her younger brother, James. The romance elements included here -- Simone's best friend's forays into sex, and Simone's crush -- feel grafted on, and not an organic part of the plot.

I enjoyed this book a great deal, and would recommend it to teens, however, I feel as though there is an even better book lurking just beyond the surface of this one, which is frustrating.
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LibraryThing member samanthawarren
Good read. The main character is very believable--you like her from the beginning. Deals with adoption and religion--two topics that work well in this book.
LibraryThing member stonelaura
This is another “issues” YA book, with a nice enough storyline that it’s not too pedantic. Sixteen year-old Simone always knew she was adopted but never had any interest in meeting her birth mother. She finally concedes to do so after her parents apply some gentle but persistent pressure. In
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doing so she learns all about her Jewish heritage and gains a whole knew depth to her existence. Of course, as is predictable, the reason she was pressured is because Rivka, the birth mother, has cancer and is dying – (choke, choke). But really, it’s handled modestly, almost understated, by Reinhardt. There’s also a romance element where Simone finds a nice (Jewish) boy. There’s some underage drinking and Simone’s best friend smokes and has an active sex life, but Simone is more reserved. She does drink, make out with a boy and then puke at a party, but she’s the kind of character who learns from her mistakes. Overall a nice enough learning-type story with a good, not overly dramatic reader.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
I liked this story and found it entertaining, but also found some parts of it unrealistic. For instance, Simone says at one point that she is mad at her birthmom - but then she just moves on and never "goes" there again. Although I appreciated the positive take on life that Simone has. As an
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adoptive mother, I found myself wondering how my children will respond/react as they get older and start thinking about their birth family in more mature ways.
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LibraryThing member sassafras
Simone has always been very comfortable in her family, despite the fact that she looks nothing like the rest of them. Simone is adopted and has known this all her life, but has chosen not to learn about the other side of her family tree. Things change, however, when Rivka, Simone’s birth mother,
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calls and wants to meet with Simone. Why now? As Simone, at first reluctantly, moves down this path, she begins to question her understanding of family, faith and life. This funny and sad story is told in a very authentic teen voice, but I think it’s a story that will appeal to adults as well.
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LibraryThing member mrsdwilliams
Simone has always known that she was adopted, but she was never interested in meeting her birthmother. Suddenly, when Simone is 16, her parents start pressuring her to contact her birthmother, Rivka. Simone resists at first, but eventually calls Rivka. As they get to know each other, Simone deals
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with important questions about love, family, friendship, and religion. Satisfying coming-of-age story.
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LibraryThing member sweetiegherkin
“A Brief Chapter” is told from the point of view of 16-year-old Simone. A cursory glance at Simone’s life would make it seem like everything is going well, but her biological mother, whom she has never met, suddenly wants to speak with her. At first Simone resists her adopted parents’ pleas
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that she talk to Rivka, her biological mother who was just 16 when she found out she was pregnant. However, Simone finally decides to call up Rivka and ends up becoming friends with Rivka within a short time. This friendship, among other things, has Simone questioning her thoughts about God – her adopted parents are atheists and Simone thinks she is one, too, until she learns about Judaism through Rivka’s example. The story is an interesting take on a teenager’s quest for identity, but somehow it did not thrill me. Simone’s voice never felt quite right to me and while Reinhardt’s writing style isn’t bad, it isn’t stellar either.
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LibraryThing member coolmama
LOVED this book!

Very impressed that it is her debut fiction.

Told with such warmth, and wisdom; humor and sadness - I found myself crying at the last pages.

Simon has always known she is adopted. At 16 she is in those awkward years of teenagehood. Her parents don't understand her, she is ugly, on and
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on it goes.

However, her birth mother reaches out to her, and she accepts.

A delightful young adult novel. Can't wait to read more by this author!!!
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LibraryThing member satyridae
I loved the book with all my heart. The CD is nearly as good. Whichever way you prefer, I recommend this one.
LibraryThing member Dairyqueen84
Heartrending in parts but a happy ending for those who like happy endings.
LibraryThing member satyridae
Achingly realistic, beautifully told story of a young woman who meets her birthmother under difficult circumstances. A very promising debut novel from Reinhardt. Deft characterization, tight plotting, and an interesting, multi-layered story about love, adoption, religion and family.
LibraryThing member KristySP
I've been reading many YA books these days and, while I've enjoyed a good many of them, few have really inspired me. A Brief Chapter in my Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt changed that pattern, and left me feeling truly happy and fulfilled...I would even go so far as to say that it filled me with
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a kind of peace. It's a simple story about a Simone, teenage girl whose life is interrupted when she is given the opportunity to meet the woman who gave her up for adoption, 16 years earlier. As a liberal, avowed atheist, Simone is surprised to learn that her mother came from an orthodox Jewish family. The two meet and forge a quick bond, prompting Simone to re-examine what she thought she knew about herself, her family, and the idea of a spiritual life.
Reinhardt managed to write a truly feel good story without being preachy or sentimental, and she writes Simone's voice with such a familiar, warm quality. I wanted the story to go on and on.
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LibraryThing member br14loin
A Brief Chapter of my Life by Dana Reinhardt is a young adult about the life of a teenaged girl named Simone Turner Bloom. Simone Turner Bloom is a girl who was left by her parents to be adopted at a young age. Throughout her life she knew she was adopted. She has a few great friends, and is living
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a pretty good life.
The main problem with the book was that I could not connect with the characters. In the first part of the book, there is underage drug use, which I am highly against as a whole, partying, and drinking. The use and talk of it all threw me off, and discouraged me from reading the story further.
From what I did read, the Dana Reinhardt went into good detail about Simone. She talked about what she was going in school, gave backstory and information on her and her friends, and described details on the people around her. It allowed me to envision what was going on, even if I didn’t like what was happening in the story. Even when Simone is puking in a bush, Dana Reinhardt tries to write it in a way so the reader can understand everything that is happening.
Overall, though the there is good in A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life, the bad shines over it, and takes away from the book.
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LibraryThing member MickTheChick
This was an interesting book about a girl's struggle with her faith. Simone was raised by adoptive atheist parents, but she meets her birth mother who is Jewish and has cancer, and her perspective on life changes the way Simone views the world. At the conclusion of the book, Simone is not sure what
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she believes, but she is aware that she doesn't have to be sure just yet. The end of the book implies that Simone's journey will continue, but not in a way that there will be a sequel to the book. It is just a realistic ending to a story. People don't always have things figured out right away. As interesting as the story was, Simone was not the most likeable main character. She was kind of obnoxious and bitchy. The story would have been better if Simone had a more relatable personality.
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Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

240 p.; 8.52 inches


0385746989 / 9780385746984
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