The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be: A Speculative Memoir of Transracial Adoption (Paperback)

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The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be: A Speculative Memoir of Transracial Adoption By Shannon Gibney Cover Image
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(Young Adult Fiction)

Staff Reviews

This book is uniquely singular in its subject matter and approach. Shannon Gibney’s experience is undeniably specific, but resonates with a universal context and emotion. What are the ways my life could have twisted and turned differently than they have? What are the ways these different paths could have shaped me? What if I could travel through time and space to see my past self, my future self, my self that exists in some other plane? What if I don’t like what I see and feel? What if I do? What if, what if, what if.
Chaotic at times, but always deeply human.

— From Gigi


A Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book

Part memoir, part speculative fiction, this novel explores the often surreal experience of growing up as a mixed-Black transracial adoptee.

Dream Country author Shannon Gibney returns with a new book woven from her true story of growing up as the adopted Black daughter of white parents and the fictional story of Erin Powers, the name Shannon was given at birth by the white woman who gave her up for adoption. 

At its core, the novel is a tale of two girls on two different timelines occasionally bridged by a mysterious portal and their shared search for a complete picture of their origins. Gibney surrounds that story with reproductions of her own adoption documents, letters, family photographs, interviews, medical records, and brief essays on the surreal absurdities of the adoptee experience.

The end result is a remarkable portrait of an American experience rarely depicted in any form.

About the Author

Shannon Gibney is an author and university professor. Her novel See No Color, drawn from her life as a transracial adoptee, was hailed by Kirkus as "an exceptionally accomplished debut" and by Publishers Weekly as "an unflinching look at the complexities of racial identity." Her sophomore novel, Dream Country, received five starred reviews and earned her a second Minnesota Book Award. The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be earned a Michael L. Printz Honor. She lives with her two Liberian-American children in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Praise For…

A Booklist 2023 Editor's Choice
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year

★ "An ambitiously authentic adoption story where fiction does the work of truth, and archives, correspondence, and health records provide the roots of fantasy."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ "A fantastical, transcendent memory collage that shirks convention in search of what is real and true about familial bonds."—PW, starred review

★ "Readers will praise the raw honesty and insight in this lovingly crafted memoir."—Booklist, starred review

"An authentic journey for adoptees who are not allowed to feel sad but thrust into a stance of gratitude for a life they were given and for all readers who, after a loss, are reconstructing their identities."—SLJ

"This deeply felt and unusually creative book is recommended for readers aged fourteen to adult, and will be an especially important resource for people of all ages with a connection to transracial adoption. The final section of the book, a group text thread including the author and other writers with this background, resonates with the solace of shared experience."—Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Gibney captures such interior and intimate adoptee feelings. It's so rare to see it evoked on the page. Breathtakingly beautiful."—Kimberly McKee, PhD, author of Disrupting Kinship: Transnational Politics of Korean Adoption in the United States

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593112014
ISBN-10: 0593112016
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 9th, 2024
Pages: 256
Language: English