But Homes expects knowing her biological parents to mean something, and the rest of the book is devoted to figuring out what that something is. The tone is detached, shading into brittle. You’ll find the same kind of cool exterior masking the same kind of bubbling rage in much of Homes’ fiction, but, as is the case with Hilary Mantel (whose fiction I’m mad for), what can make for narrative economy and restraint in a novel or short story reads differently in autobiography.
“I found myself weirdly disliking AM during the book,” someone told me. “That can’t be normal in a memoir, can it?” I didn’t feel dislike, exactly, but I did feel very distant from Homes — and coinsiderably more sympathetic toward her adoptive parents than she allows herself to be.
In the latter sections, Homes copes with her father’s rejection. She sifts through her mother’s things. She spends hours searching genealogical records online.
The memoir in its contemporary iteration seems to demand a Triumphant Conclusion. Homes, to her credit, mostly sidesteps this trap, focusing on her adopted grandmother. The result is a muted finale honoring the mystery of family.