I Hope You Have a Good Life:
A True Story of Love, Loss, and Redemption
by Campbell Armstrong
Crown Publishers, 2000

Reviewed by Barbara Free

     The subtitle of this book is, “A true story of love, loss, and redemption,” and it certainly is that. The author is the ex-husband of the woman who is the main character in the book. She is a birth mother, originally from Scotland, who gave birth to a daughter in 1955 in England, and relinquished her. Her family was so scandalized by her teenage pregnancy that they all moved to England until after the baby’s birth, making up a story about the birth grandmother having a nervous breakdown, apparently far more acceptable than an unmarried pregnancy. The author met Eileen, the birth mother, several years later. Eventually, they had a son, married, had two more sons, and moved to the United States. The author’s drinking steadily escalated, and eventually the couple were divorced, but remained in contact.
     The relinquished daughter was seldom mentioned, but was always in Eileen’s thoughts. Little did she know that her daughter was searching for her from the age of twelve on. The story of her search, and their eventual reunion, has several twists that distinguish it from most other reunion stories. This is not a cheerful book, hut it is a compelling story, and one that should he read by all who are procrastinating in their search. Sometimes time is all too short. Anyone who still believes that closed adoptions with no access to the truth are not harmful should also read this hook.
     The story is also about the author’s addiction and recovery, and writing the book was his final promise to Eileen. He is a professional writer, a novelist, and the book is very well written from that standpoint, but it’s also a story told from the hearts of all those involved. I sat down one morning to start the hook and did little else that day, finishing it that night. I would recommend it to any triad member and to any professional who works with triad members.

Excerpted from the April 2002 edition of the Operation Identitiy Newsletter
© 2002 Operation Identity