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Summary

Living in Oklahoma with her maternal grandfather, Mary gets a new name and a new life. But she's haunted by the past: by the baby girls she's sure will come looking for her someday, by the mother she left behind, by the father who left her. Mary is a college student when her sisters start to get back in touch. With each subsequent reunion, her family becomes closer to whole again.

Moving, haunting, and at times wickedly funny, Bastards is about finding one's family and oneself.

©2015 Original Material by Mary Anna King, recorded by arrangement with W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. (P)2015 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

Critic reviews

"Is it OK to repeatedly burst out laughing in the middle of a crowded coffeehouse before explaining to fellow customers, 'It's this hilarious new book about a crazy family that gave away their children the way other families send out Christmas cards'? If not, I apologize for all the interrupted coffee breaks and lift my cup to Mary King and her glorious Bastards, a rib-tickling yet deeply moving debut memoir. Only a writer with King's keen eye, expert storytelling skills, and from-the-heart honesty can turn a childhood this deficient into a book so rich." (Franz Wisner, author of Honeymoon with My Brother)
"With Bastards Mary Anna King has crafted a wise and indispensable meditation on the true nature of family, the dislocations of adoption, and all the vital species of love. She brings light to them all." (Steve Almond, author of Against Football: One Man's Reluctant Manifesto and Bad Poetry)
"An impressive debut.... [Mary Anna King's] prose moves with lyrical wit and cultural texture as she persists with all of her protean self to figure out the nature of family and the deepest human connections amid trauma and confusion." (Peter Balakian, author of Black Dog of Fate)

What members say

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Exceptional Memoir

What an amazing book. Mary is the epitome of love, she writes from her heart (brimming with love for her brother and sisters) I feel sadness for her and her family's experiences and joy when she is reunited with her siblings (babies and children that had been taken from her world) They all went through so much... I wish them all fulfilment and happiness in their lives.

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  • michele leavitt
  • 26-06-18

No sugarcoating, no bitterness, just brilliance

My habit is to listen to books while driving, and I was always glad to be back in my car because this memoir was so beautifully written and so riveting. . Toward the end of the memoir, though, I had to listen in the house and while walking since my need to know how things turned out for Mary and her sisters was so strong. I felt as if I were right with her in her longing to meet the sisters who'd been adopted by strangers.

Early parts of the memoir describing her childhood in New Jersey are some of the best writing I've read from a child's-eye point of view. You can't help loving the little girl who loves her brother and all her missing sisters, and you can't help loving the young woman who tries to make sense of a very chaotic situation.

It's not easy to write a book with so many characters in it and to make all of the characters memorable, but Mary Anna King succeeds at this, even though the relationships between characters are complex. As an adoptee, I appreciated her honesty and her insights about what makes a family feel like family - - she doesn't sugarcoat, but there's no bitterness here, either. A major accomplishment by a young and gifted writer.