Selected Reviews

 

“The Baby Room,” in Oh Baby: True Stories about Conception, Adoption, Surrogacy, Pregnancy, Labor, and Love

“Adoptions are the subject of some of the most poignant entries, including Mary A. Scherf’s “Becoming His Mother,” about spending several days in a women’s prison in Guatemala on kidnapping charges, and Nancy McCabe’s “The Baby Room”.

Read the full review.

“A few essays strike similar tones of levity and concern as they chart the divide between parents’ ideas regarding their impending new roles and their often different reality. The finest invite deeper engagement by juxtaposing multiple layers, such as. . . “The Baby Room,” a memory of adoption interspersed with studies on cortisol levels in adopted children”

Read the full review.

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“Gifts” from Every Father’s Daughter, named by Parade Magazine
a “2015 Sizzling Summer Read” and “Best Gift for Fathers Who Read”

I appreciated Nancy McCabe’s “Gifts,” in which she reflects on how she felt like the odd man out in her own family. “This is the real reason people have children, I think. Not just to pass on genes or wisdom to the next generation, not just to replace ourselves in the world, but because of the strange and miraculous way that the mere presence of children can heal lifelong fractures. We laugh a lot more. We don’t take ourselves so seriously.”

Read the full review.

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“Threads” – from The Review Review

Heavy and Hearty: The Thanksgiving Dinner of Literary Magazines Review of Prairie Schooner, Fall 2011″: “The first essay in the collection is “Threads” by Nancy McCabe. It is lovely, sad, and a little bit hopeful. It is a pleasure to read. In the essay, an American mother brings her adopted daughter back to her birthplace in China. The mother and daughter hope to discover something additional about the daughter’s past. McCabe writes:

Ten years later, here I am again, searching for the one right question, looking for an answer that will assure my daughter of her enormous worth. But the sun and all the food have turned me sluggish or maybe just resigned, knowing that few of us ever really find any such question or answer.

Read the full review.

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“Threads – from NewPages.com

Nancy McCabe’s poignant essay “Threads examines the triumphs and struggles of child adoption. . .

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“Threads” – from The Review Review

Heavy and Hearty: The Thanksgiving Dinner of Literary Magazines Review of Prairie Schooner, Fall 2011″: “The first essay in the collection is “Threads” by Nancy McCabe. It is lovely, sad, and a little bit hopeful. It is a pleasure to read. In the essay, an American mother brings her adopted daughter back to her birthplace in China. The mother and daughter hope to discover something additional about the daughter’s past. McCabe writes:

Ten years later, here I am again, searching for the one right question, looking for an answer that will assure my daughter of her enormous worth. But the sun and all the food have turned me sluggish or maybe just resigned, knowing that few of us ever really find any such question or answer.

Read the full review.

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Can This Troubled Marriage Be Saved: A Quiz from NewPages.com

Nancy McCabe’s nonfiction contribution, “Can This Troubled Marriage Be Saved: A Quiz,” written in the style of a magazine quiz, complete with answer key, is quite distinct from the essays mentioned above in structure (the quiz), tone (sarcastic rather than earnest), and style (more casual, breezier prose).

Read the full review

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“The End of the Tunnel” – from Review of The Pushcart Prize 2011 XXV by Kim Chinquee

This 25th Anniversary Edition . . . [demonstrates] the fine work that writers are producing today . . . A dazzling collection of essays fills this edition. . . Nancy McCabe’s striking memoir from Prairie Schooner, “The End of the Tunnel,” tells of Ms. McCabe’s . . . encounter with the Flashlight Man, and how she overcomes her fear and her sense of powerlessness.

 

 

Reviews of From Little Houses to Little Women

from WPSU Bookmark

Still, books take me to places, introduce me to people, and enable me to experience things that might not otherwise happen in my life. Nancy McCabe has taken me on an epic road trip defined by cherished books. There is a certain gaggle of us who will appreciate that ride – you know who you are. Read the entire review here.

 

 

Reviews of Crossing the Blue Willow Bridge

 

from yahoo.com

Looking over my notes after reading this travelogue/memoir by adoptive mom Nancy McCabe, I found myself smiling at her vivid, well-chosen examples and wry humor. She articulates as well the daily dramas, responsibilities, and revelations of parenthood, especially that of being an adoptive parent and a single parent. . . . Anyone who has been, or plans to go on a homeland trip will eat up the details of what the trip was like: the emotion, the sights, the food, and the sorts of trials that always go along with international travel. . .Her descriptions are especially evocative. Speaking of the haze in Xi’an, she says, “I can’t see the sun . . . light glimmers like a twenty-watt bulb behind a heavily frosted globe.” Throughout the trip, McCabe reflects on mother-daughter relationships, and Sophie’s impressions and thought processes as she discovers China and strengthens her bond with her heritage. . . It’s easy to find books in which parents talk lovingly about their children, but McCabe really captures these day-to-day moments which make parenting so rewarding….

McCabe has put a lot of thought into the issues she addresses in her book. She has read widely on adoption, and said that she’s uncomfortable with some of the cozy assumptions about adoption; that children are always better off with middle-class parents, that only a minority of adoptees suffer ill effects, “that internationally adopted children have been saved from terrible lives. . . .” Sometimes the book had such a sense of melancholy that I had to put it down for a bit. But I always picked it up again, drawn in by her turns of phrase, evocative scenes, and sense of pacing that kept her narrative moving along.

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from Lincoln Journal Star

Careening between disappointment and joy, ‘Crossing the Blue Willow Bridge’ is the story of two journeys woven together. One is a travelogue of the trip to China. . . the other is a memoir about parenting an adopted child. McCabe presents the journey through the lens of expectations, both her own and the culture’s, and treats their complexities with insight, humor and sensitivity….

Read the full review.

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from Adopton Today

From the adoption community perspective, McCabe is one of us. She exercises the courage to write what the rest of us only think about our children, our relationships with them and the many nuances the adoption component adds to the family mix. . . . McCabe asks as much from the reader as she shares in this open book memoir. . . Wonderfully entertaining, serious at the right moments, sensitive and compassionate enough to give it heart, humorous and honest enough to make it real, McCabe hits another home run with this title.

Read the full review.

 

 

Reviews of Meeting Sophie

 

from Adoptive Families

On one level, Meeting Sophie is a chronicle of single parenthood that focuses on these difficulties by recounting a period of great hardship and stress in the author’s life, the years before and after McCabe adopts her daughter, Sophie. Written in the present tense, the story immerses us in her troubles of the moment: the exhausting first weeks with her new baby; the political wrangling of teaching in a church-connected Southern college; the perversity of adoption regulations; the grief of watching her father sicken and die. Throughout, we feel her isolation from both family and community—and her fierce love for Sophie, who is as strong-willed and determined as her mother.

McCabe writes realistically about the obstacles to single parenting, and (almost too exhaustively) about exhaustion. Her descriptions of life with her daughter are punctuated by moments of giddy hilarity, the ongoing comedy of motherhood.

Read the full review.

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from Publisher’s Weekly

Here is a story of a single professional woman adopting a baby from China, losing her father to cancer and moving on after being denied tenure at a conservative Southern college. But it’s also a meditation on the meaning of family: blood family, adoptive family and even the dysfunctional family-like structure of a college English department. It begins with McCabe’s (After the Flashlight Man) first moment with her new baby in a Chinese hotel. As she gradually fills in the details of before and after, the unlikelihood of this adoption attests to McCabe’s near-mystical desire for a child. A feminist liberal at a church-affiliated college, McCabe is ill-suited to her new department, whose members patronize her and hound her to act more like them: “Southern ladies.” This attitude strikingly mirrors her role in her own family, where she was cast early on as “the dumb one” and a selfish outcast, despite her good grades growing up in the Midwest and her adult attempts to help out when her father is ill. The family myth shows its effect as McCabe doubts her ability to care for her baby until, seemingly through intuition alone, she guesses, contrary to the opinions of doctors and adoption professionals, her new daughter’s allergies (to lactose and antihistamines), which are serendipitously similar to her own. As a new mother and grieving daughter, McCabe struggles poignantly and triumphantly to maintain her own identity as she creates her place within family. Her tale will be familiar and inspiring to those interested in delving into their own family relations, as well as to single women considering adoption. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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from Literary Potpourri – Review by Season Harper

The night before we left Beijing to meet our babies in Hangzhou, we went to an acrobatic show, all of the parents-to-be in our group vacant-eyed with exhaustion, swaying rather than walking, slumping into red velvet seats. I thought maybe I was hallucinating all the bright costumes, the traditional music, the movements combining martial arts and tumbling and body contortions. I kept dozing off while children stood on their hands, spinning cloth and tables and each other on their feet. I’d start awake to watch them walk across swinging ropes, twirl plates on long poles as casually as if they were holding umbrellas, balance on boards and barrels, build a rickety pyramid of chairs, and climb long tubes while rearranging their bodies into impossible configurations. My dreams were shattered by a table falling and breaking, a plate clattering to the floor. I jerked to consciousness to see the pyramid of chairs become so quivery that the performers gave up on it, hopped down, and signaled for the stage lights to dim.

For the first time in hours, days, maybe weeks, I was free of anxiety: fatigue and serenity felt like the same thing. Each mistake, each falter, seemed purposeful, choreographed and executed to emphasize the precariousness of objects and bodies, the difficulties of equilibrium.

While McCabe’s title may suggest a simple story of adoption, this book is anything but simple. Rather, it is a compelling journey, encompassing loss, death, the fragility of memory—a journey of shattered dreams and renewed hopes. It is the bravely truthful story of one woman’s determination to balance the plates and chair pyramids and tables of her life while embracing the unknowns of adoptive parenthood. . . .

It is our good fortune that McCabe was never ground into submission, was never one to “follow the rules,” that the rigid, Southern, church-connected college she taught at never managed to squelch her spirit. She recognized, in her adoptive daughter, Sophie, a kindred spirit, a Chinese girl who wailed loud and long to get her needs met in a world where girls are considered unimportant. McCabe’s fervent desire to make a place for herself in the world and to give her child a better life may be the result of a childhood longing to fit in, but it is the author’s strength, her wisdom to use negative experiences as springboards to growth, that ultimately deliver the tools she uses to bulldoze headfirst through every obstacle.

McCabe has managed, magnificently, a feat worthy of the greatest admiration. Her memoir suggest a life lived with vibrance, passion, and a breathtaking ability to daringly embrace “the difficulty of equilibrium.”

 

 

Reviews of After the Flashlight Man

 

in Literary Potpourri — Review by T.J. Forrester

After the Flashlight Man: A Memoir of Awakening is an elegantly written memoir about a violated woman’s determination to reclaim control of her emotions by defining her identity. . .It is [her] poet’s vision that makes After the Flashlight Man soar with searing imagery, fresh language, and intense reflection.”

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in Pitt’s University Times — Review by Peter Hart

For Nancy McCabe, mixing autobiographical memory and the desire to reinvent her life spawned an intensely personal account, a coming of age story melded seamlessly with an adult awakening story, titled After the Flashlight Man: A Memoir of Awakening . . . .The book chronicles the interconnections between seemingly unrelated — and sometimes surreal — episodes in her life.

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