The year is 1996. For the past 30 years of marriage, Joan Egan’s days have been shaped by the choices her husband, Martin, makes for her and by the duties her domineering mother-in-law imposes upon her.
Joan is a mother herself, though her relationship with her 27-year-old daughter, Carmel, has always felt distant. Joan and Martin’s life together may look picture perfect from the outside, but Joan feels the weight of a long-held family secret weighing her down and affecting her relationships.
Rewind the clock to 1966. Joan is a beautiful young woman from an underprivileged section of Dublin, but she catches the eye of wealthy young Martin Egan and becomes pregnant before she and Martin are married. At Martin’s insistence, they arrange a secret adoption out of fear that Martin’s reputation might be ruined at a time when he is poised to take the reins of the family business.
The past catches up to the present when Joan receives an envelope in the mail from her long-lost daughter, and Joan has a decision to make.
In The Making of Her, debut novelist Bernadette Jiwa gives readers a beautifully complicated and nuanced look into the life of a woman whose choices in life have been limited but who is on the precipice of taking a brave leap toward carving out her own path and being true to herself and what her heart tells her is right.
Tracy Hvezda-Lehtola is a patron experience supervisor for the Hennepin County Library–Excelsior. Read more at hclib.org.