The Red Thread

( 33 )

Overview

The new bestseller from the author of The Knitting Circle: “Is there anyone who can write about the connections between ordinary people as well as Ann Hood does?”—Jodi Picoult
“In China there is a belief that people who are destined to be together are connected by an invisible red thread. Who is at the end of your red thread?” After losing her infant daughter in a freak accident, Maya Lange opens The Red Thread, an adoption agency that specializes in placing baby girls from ...

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Overview

The new bestseller from the author of The Knitting Circle: “Is there anyone who can write about the connections between ordinary people as well as Ann Hood does?”—Jodi Picoult
“In China there is a belief that people who are destined to be together are connected by an invisible red thread. Who is at the end of your red thread?” After losing her infant daughter in a freak accident, Maya Lange opens The Red Thread, an adoption agency that specializes in placing baby girls from China with American families. Maya finds some comfort in her work, until a group of six couples share their personal stories of their desire for a child. Their painful and courageous journey toward adoption forces her to confront the lost daughter of her past. Brilliantly braiding together the stories of Chinese birth mothers who give up their daughters, Ann Hood writes a moving and beautifully told novel of fate and the red thread that binds these characters’ lives. Heartrending and wise, The Red Thread is a stirring portrait of unforgettable love and yearning for a baby.

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Editorial Reviews

Elle
“A wisely woven novel.”
Washington Post
“A subtle and unusual adoption story, many-layered, exquisitely told.”— Reeve Lindbergh
Good Housekeeping
“Hope sinks and floats again in Hood’s lovely, perceptive tale.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Hood wears her big heart on her sleeve. . . . Her prose . . . shines in the portraits of the Chinese families who give up their daughters.”— Tricia Springstubb
Reeve Lindbergh - Washington Post
“A subtle and unusual adoption story, many-layered, exquisitely told.”
Tricia Springstubb - Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Hood wears her big heart on her sleeve. . . . Her prose . . . shines in the portraits of the Chinese families who give up their daughters.”
Elle
“A wisely woven novel.”
Reeve Lindbergh
This is a subtle and unusual adoption story, many-layered, exquisitely told.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
In her engaging new tearjerker, Hood (The Knitting Circle) follows several families as they attempt to adopt daughters from China. Holding down the center is Maya Lange, who, as head of the Red Thread Adoption Agency, is the prospective parents' guide through the adoption process. Childless Maya is driven by a desire to make amends for a tragic accident in her past, though her clients have their own share of heartbreak—miscarriages and infertility—and, predictably, the expectations and reservations about parenthood that they confide to Maya are shaped by a host of personal issues. In a nod to Hood's last novel, several women knit to calm their nerves as they await their new daughters. Meanwhile, Maya, also a knitter, takes painful steps toward letting go of the past. The individual arcs are woven together beautifully, though the interspersed tales of how the Chinese children came to be abandoned tend to clutter more than add. Regardless, Hood's sensitive depiction of her characters' hopes and fears makes for a moving story of dedication, forgiveness, and love. (May)
Library Journal
Like her best-selling The Knitting Circle, Hood's new novel features the themes of loss and reconnection. After the death of her infant daughter in an accident, Maya Lange opens an adoption agency that places Chinese babies with American parents. Six couples waiting to adopt share the lengthy process and eventually create a bond, although they were previously strangers. Meanwhile, Maya is forced to confront her feelings about her child's death and her former husband so that she can heal and learn to fall in love again. The stories of the adopting parents are intertwined with those of the Chinese women who, for various reasons, had to give up their baby girls. The tone here is somber, but in the end these parents are transformed by the healing journeys they have made. VERDICT Hood offers a thoughtful novel about the yearning for a child that's primed to be a book club pick. Readers who enjoyed Hood's last novel or are fans of writers like Jacqueline Mitchard will enjoy this as well. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/10.]—Amy Ford, St. Mary's Cty. Lib., Lexington Park, MD
Kirkus Reviews
A group of Americans plan to adopt daughters from China through an agency founded by a bereaved mother, in Hood's moving novel (The Knitting Circle, 2007, etc.). Maya walked away from her husband Adam and her formerly happy life in Hawaii after the accidental death of her infant daughter left her in emotional freefall. (The exact circumstances surrounding the accident are not revealed until halfway through the novel.) In part to assuage her anguish, Maya started The Red Thread Adoption Agency, referring to a Chinese saying that a red thread connects people destined to be together. Operating out of Providence, R.I., Maya conducts her latest orientation of a group of couples embarking on the yearlong (or more) process of adopting abandoned Chinese girl babies. Without exception, the wives initiate the adoptions. Theo is bored by ovulation-driven sex with wife Sophie and, still a globetrotting beach bum at heart, views children only as a threat to freedom. Emily, whose efforts to win over her teenage stepdaughter Chloe have netted rejection, unwittingly abetted by her husband Michael, seeks family equilibrium. Nell and Benjamin Walker-Adams, New England aristocrats (he's descended from John Adams) have given up on Nell's mood-bending fertility treatments, but she's experiencing the most untrammeled baby-lust of her charmed life. Brooke, married to ex-Major Leaguer Charlie, yearns to fill the void left by her sterility, but Charlie thinks three's a crowd, until suddenly their attitudes reverse. Susannah, ambivalent about and vaguely shamed by the retarded daughter her husband Carter adores, wants a "normal" child. Interspersed throughout are italicized vignettes about Chinese mothers forcedby the quota on children and prejudice against girls to make wrenching decisions. The raw and riveting Chinese stories siphon narrative juice from the more conventional American angst that dominates the novel. Still, the tale ends with a pleasing sense that the red thread is more than a myth, especially in Maya's case.
The Barnes & Noble Review

When Ann Hood lost her five year old daughter Grace to a sudden and virulent form of strep, she was understandably bereft. But the journey through grieving ended on a high note three year later as Hood cradled the Chinese orphan she'd pledged to mother. "I knew that our hope of rebuilding our family again was indeed possible," she wrote in her blog. It was that hope, combined with the inspiration of the other families that made up the group she traveled with to bring their daughters home, which compelled Hood to pen a novel - a re-imagining of the secret histories of the abandoned infants and the heartbreaking sacrifices of the mothers who gave them up. So The Red Thread was born.

Centered on a Rhode Island adoption agency called Red Thread (after the Chinese legend that each child is connected to its parents by an invisible gossamer fiber) and its director Maya, the narrative unfolds in overlapping tales of six couples who come to the agency yearning for a child, punctuated by vignettes of the Chinese birth mothers. Through Maya's dual role as grieving mother and capable shepherd, Hood steers a compassionate course through the rocky shoals of infertility treatments, ovulation-driven sex, resentful stepchildren, and the overwhelming longing for a small being to love. Unspooling one bit of red thread at a time, Hood's novel is at once exuberant and elegiac, a touching meditation on the tensile bond between husbands and wives, children and parents, and friends bound by fate and the desire to belong.

--Lydia Dishman

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393339765
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/2/2011
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 257,654
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Ann Hood

Ann Hood is the author of six works of fiction, including the bestseller The Knitting Circle and, most recently, The Obituary Writer, as well as a memoir, Comfort. She is also the editor of Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting. The winner of two Pushcart prizes as well as Best American Food Writing, Best American Travel Writing, and Best American Spiritual Writing awards, she lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 33 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(12)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(3)

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(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 33 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 11, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    An amazing story by Ann Hood

    "In China there is a belief that people who are destined to be together are connected by an invisible red thread. Who is at the end of your red thread?"

    The Red Thread is a wonderfully written novel chronicling the lives of five couples, along with the adoption agency director, as they go through the process of adopting a baby girl from China. We see their high points.and low points; their excitement.and their jitters. Fraught with emotion, Ann Hood puts a spell on the reader and she seamlessly moves us through the families' stories, from their initial meeting, to the home study, to the paperwork, to the months and months of waiting to hear from the Chinese government, and finally to the trip to China to pick up the babies. Through each section of the story, we get the adoption director, Maya's, point of view, as well as the perspective of each family as they struggle with the emotional upheaval that the process brings onto them.

    Maya comes with her own set of demons and it is agonizing to read her inner turmoil and how she is haunted by a freak accident that resulted in the death of her infant daughter. It destroyed her and it destroyed her marriage. Through this book, Maya does begin to heal, but she is very tentative and does not want to get emotionally involved with anyone, for fear of losing them, too. I enjoyed reading about Maya's journey and how through her work as an adoption agency director, she is able to begin the healing process.

    One of the best parts of the book are the stories of the Chinese mothers and fathers who are forced to give up their baby girls. China has very strict laws about having one child, with the male child being the most desirable. If a family has a daughter first, they are allowed to try for a son, but if a second girl is born, there are strict punishments on those families. Thus, many women are forced to give up their little girls - leaving them in parks, on police station steps, or at orphanage doors - in order to avoid punishment. It is utterly heartbreaking and I cannot imagine the pain that these families must endure, hoping that their children end up in good homes. I truly loved reading their stories and it added so much depth to the novel.

    I love the magical theory of the "red thread", that people are destined to be together. I believe in fate and destiny and I loved reading about the invisible "red thread" that brought the American families and their abandoned Chinese daughters together. It truly was pure magic.

    I thoroughly loved this book and I would highly recommend it. If I could give it more than 5 stars I would - that's how much I loved it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An invisible thread binds all who are meant to be our family

    When I read Jennifer Grant's reference to a red thread connecting her to their then unknown adoptive child, I immediately remembered this book I read two years ago. Red Thread, named after the Chinese belief that we are tied by an invisible thread to all who will become important in our lives, is Ann Hood's novel centers around an adoption agency which specializes in Chinese adoptions. Six adoptive families seek Maya Lange and her Red Thread Agency's expertise in successful overseas adoptions. Chapters alternate between revelations about what has brought each couple to their decisions to adopt and emotional glimpses into the lives of six Chinese birth mothers. The differences between cultures will at time be jarring, even upsetting, but I guarantee you will better understand the painful decisions made by each mother. And for the six babies in this book, new opportunities to be loved and cherished await them. And as the day approaches when each family will be "born," you will learn more about Maya Lange and her secret heartache.
    I have to confess that although I remembered this book instantly when I reread the phrase "red thread" in Jennifer Grant's book, I did not recall too many details about the book. I did remember a strong emotional reaction to the story, a better understanding of reasons foreign children might be abandoned, and a strong woman who told the story. But in fact, I could not remember whether the story was fiction or nonfiction. In a way I believe that is a compliment to author Ann Hood; two years after reading her book I still had such an emotional response that I thought momentarily that Maya Lange was a real person. I am a strong proponent that well written fiction can help us examine some of our most serious topics and The Red Thread is that kind of fiction.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 5, 2010

    The Red Thread

    Ann Hood has always been a favorite of mine and so I had to get her newest book the day it came out. I was not disappointed. Maya runs an adoption agency called The Red Thread matching families with Chinese baby girls that have been abandoned by their families. In alternating voices we share the histories of the prospective families, the stories that led to the abandonment of each child and also Maya's secret which stands in the way of her own happiness. This story is especially poignant knowing that the author lost her daughter to a sudden illness at a very young age and adopted from China herself. The Chinese believe a red thread connects us from birth to the people we should be with. Read it and see if you agree.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2014

    Somewhat predictable.

    Good summer read. Interesting, but not fabulous.

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  • Posted January 17, 2014

    loved it

    This book speaks to the longing for a child and the process for adoption. Excellently written, good story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2012

    Intertwined stories

    The story of chinese mothers broke my heart.

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  • Posted October 11, 2011

    Very goof and heart felt

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  • Posted August 24, 2010

    An entertaining, quick read

    The Red Thread is the story of Americans adopting baby girls from China told from both sides. So as the American families are moving towards the decision to adopt, we also see the Chinese mothers moving towards giving their daughters up. I liked the plot device, its an interesting concept that I haven't seen done before. The central character of the story is Maya, the owner of the adoption agency connecting the two worlds.

    Unfortunately I found the development of both the plot and the characters to be a bit superficial and lacking. She could have done so many intriguing things with this story, but most of it is predictable and one-dimensional. Its still an entertaining, quick read, just not as deep as I had hoped.

    The audio version of The Red Thread is read by Hillary Huber. She a smooth, pleasant voice and does a fine job with the narration. Some of the raw, intense emotion doesn't come through, but that may have been more a fault of the writer than of the reader.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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