The Finding Place is a story about a teenage girl, Kelly, who is dealing with the recent separation of her parents and her father walking out of the family. This painful situation is compounded by the fact that she is learning about herself as a Canadian girl who was adopted as a toddler from China. Kelly is very angry with her mother as she feels her mother is keeping her father away from her and driving him away. This anger only gets worse when her mother sells some of her father’s possessions. With the proceeds from the sale of these items, her mother decides to surprise Kelly with a trip to China. This trip is meant to provide Kelly the opportunity to experience the trip her parents took to adopt her as well as to learn more about her birth country and heritage. Although the trip is also meant to help improve the relationship between Kelly and her mother, Kelly continues to leave her mother, who experiences painful headaches, to explore China on her own. This time on her own allows her to feel more connected to her origins. During her time alone, Kelly helps a young Chinese student who has been hurt on her way to school which gives Kelly the chance to experience what a school in China is like. Kelly also meets Clare, a woman from Canada who has come to China to adopt a child just as Kelly’s parents had. This relationship helps Kelly feel more empathy towards her parents and their experience with adoption. It takes a medical emergency with Kelly’s mother to rebuild their relationship, to face the facts about Kelly’s father leaving them, and to move forward with their new life back in Canada.
Classroom Connections: This novel would be a wonderful book to read with upper intermediate and high school students. The novel lends itself to discussions and journal response activities. Some of the issues Kelly deals with may be similar to those faced by teenage readers, allowing them to relate well to the character.
Review by Cindy Haack